The newly sworn in Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole, has refused to speak on the allegation that he evaded the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme.
Some unnamed members of the House had alleged that he evaded the mandatory scheme for Nigerian graduates of universities, Colleges of Education and Polytechnics who are not above 30 years on graduation. Only those beyond that age are exempted.
Graduates who have served in the Nigerian military or the police are also exempted.
Responding to the allegation this morning in a brief telephone interview with P.M.News, Bankole said he won’t speak on the issue for now.
“I don’t want to be distracted in my new responsibility to Nigeria,” he retorted.
He said those who are alleging that he evaded the scheme should go to the NYSC to clarify the issue.
Also speaking with P.M.News this morning on phone, Funke Egbemode, former media assistant to the speaker, said the allegation was a figment of the imagination of those peddling it.
She said detractors should avoid heating up the polity through spurious allegations against public office holders.
Egbemode also said she can confirm that Bankole participated in the scheme.
A member of the House, Hon. Sampson Osagie, who nominated Bankole as speaker before he was eventually elected, said the allegation was the handiwork of the speaker’s detractors and called on Nigerians to disregard it.
It was reported in some national dailies that the speaker would address a news conference today on the issue.
Meanwhile, the speaker’s father, Chief Alani Bankole, has started deflecting the darts being shot at his son.
Speaking in Ibadan yesterday, the senior Bankole said the ‘banana peel’ that usually brought down top political office holders was not for his son.
It has been argued in some quarters that since Bankole served in the British Army and was discharged honourably, “whatever allegiance he had to that country subsisted while he was in active service and not after his discharge.”
Some members of the House of Representatives who opposed Bankole’s emergence as speaker sent SMS (Short Message Service) on their mobile phones to other members of the House not to vote for Bankole because he evaded the NYSC scheme.
Checks at the NYSC secretariat, Abuja did not yield any result at press time.
Bankole represents Abeokuta South Federal Constituency of Ogun State in the House of Representatives.