He is drop dead good looking. He combines the smashing elegance of John F. Kennedy with the Hollywood drama of Ronald Reagan all in one showmanship. CNN even calls him a Rockstar. His constant smiles hide serious mind in constant state of shrewd political calculation. His neatly packaged words flashing with electrifying energy and strong rhetoric, The future occupant of white house for at least the next four years and probably the next eight is a pure Kenyan male. Forget about the African American label. It is just convenient and necessary for politics.
How can the almighty cramp so much into such ordinary man with such humble Parentage. From a beginning of broken dalliance between an rugged looking charcoal black but brilliant Masai Kenyan and a bissorted fine looking American lady. The randy black man later went back home to pick up fertile preoccupation in polygamy. The tradition of typical African male with particular excuse found in Islam. His abandoned son, Barak Hussein Obama from a little village of Kogelo somewhere in Kikuyu land in Masai Kenya has arrived to print his funny sounding name in the World encyclopedia of history. Barak Obama’s mind is clear, his vision is focused his ambition is huge. And all his calculations and theories are entirely his.The young man is his own man.
SPEAKER DIMEJI BANKOLE
Atlantic Ocean away from America, in Lagos Nigeria again is an athletic looking shy smiling dashing young bachelor from Owu in Abeokuta. Entirely poles apart from Barak in pedigree and enjoying the harvest of a long suffering political father who himself has not been entirely successful in politics but has created a niche for dramatic calculations in political networking. He has also become a house hold name for challenging the unstable tempers of Olusegun Obasanjo at every convenient opportunity standing at least ten meters away for his safety. Chief Alani Bankole is the father of our present shy smiling Speaker of the Nations House of Representatives. The number four position in the most populous land of World Black Nations. His son, the Speaker is Dimeji Bankole or Banky, as his fellow Youth Corpers called him barely five years ago. Dimeji Bankole is highly intelligent. He has the complex moves and cunning manipulations in the House to show for this.
He has yet to apply the gift of intellect to the crying needs of the poor and the fatally sick patients in our Hospitals. He is highly educated. All the photocopies of his numerous degrees from the best Universities in the World are neatly filed in the archives of the National Assembly. But he has not found a vision to focus his quick mind on. We know this because he has been groping helplessly for a tablet to draw a map of the future for Nigeria and sign his name for safekeeping in the archives of history. Instead, like a little kid, he has been joy riding in long convoys celebrating nothing. He is young. He needs no testimonial to prove this. We can all see the baby fat on his chubby cheeks, and can almost spot one or two milk teeth around the gaps where his molars should be. We are baffled that with youth on his side, he has not found enough strength to confront the baggage of a generation whose sins he has now inherited. Dimeji Bankole is still held down by the political inheritance he came to claim. Yet to find his own place in the entire confusion he was thrust into, our tested patients are rapidly running out. While we thought Bankole might one day be our own Barak, that hope is fading rapidly.
NIGERIANS AND THEIR GULLIBILITY
Nigerians are easily excitable. Quick to judge and slow to react, they give little license for studied reflections and quite easily conclude on matters with large latitude for benefits in the negative even in light of positive premises. I am more honestly worried by a barely literate hairdresser pilot than a confused bachelor novice navigator. My worries therefore affords generous license to the current Speaker. My disappointment however continues to flow like a waterfall out of control.
Dimeji Bankole has been in the House of Representatives for more than four years and Speaker for some time now. In all the long periods of heated debates and sometimes pugilistic encounters in the chambers, very few can remember his position in the sharply divided aisles.The sharpness of his unguarded tongues as a just graduated Youth Corper, the dimension of his innocent contributions in an adult House with little education, , the impetousity of his boxing jab in a House given to unprovoked violence would, I am sure have been noted somewhere in furious creative writings of our ever malicious magazines. The Press is sadly untouched by Dimeji Bankole’s presence in the House. Otherwise, his debate records would surely give evidence to a revolution in incubation. Where does Bankole’s belief lie.
In the traditional truths canvassed at Oxford or the practical life realities that Harvard promotes? How are his original thoughts expressed to a gang just gathering its strength for the next 419 scheme? How have our intellectual class been enriched by his take on the ethics of traditional philosophical thoughts taught to him at Cambridge, with generous research on the original submissions of Greek philosophers and the research findings of his rather arrogant facilitators whose interpretations are recorded in voluminous books dedicated to fundamental truths they struggle to interpret. If you ask me to confess, I am as confused of Bankole’s role in moving the Nation forward as he is on getting his colleagues off his back. The truth, if we are forced to confess is that Bankole was Gbenga Daniels’ invention and perhaps a good compensation for local support of his experienced politician father. The young man showed no imagination in four years of sitting in the House.
Apart from the funny tilt in his Obasanjo cap, nothing creative can be described of his personality, posture and position on discussions. He challenged nobody in a debate and voted predictably in the box Olusegun Obasanjo and Gbenga Daniel took interest in. No voting ever contradicted the Governors position, either in the tragedy of third term , local government creation or the controversial arguments on budgets and extravagant foreign journeys of the then President. Bankole was never his own man then. How then can he be his own man now? He held no views to justify a fresh vision. He made no remarks to assure Nigerians of a radical political position. He expressed no sympathy for his youth corps colleagues not so lucky like him roaming the streets of urban centres in the land. Alani Bankole’s son, Dimeji was just there. The very reason why he survived the election of 2007. Where then did the hopes of a revolution spring from. And what were the justifications for hope when he supplanted the hairdresser turned Speaker.
THE HOUSE FROM GRASS TO MUD
If the great Zik of Africa were alive to see the shenanigans of the House of Representatives today, he would probably say in typical pre Independence verbosity “ IDEOLOGICAL SPECIMEN IN THE SAME PROXIMITY DO FLUNCTUATE TOGETHER IN THE SAME VISSINITY” Meaning of course that most crooks gravitate towards the House of Reps. The House of Representatives, from beginning has never been a House of hope for the Nigerian electorate.
It has never actually promised happiness to all and does not really care to pretend it does. It travels on a dangerous trajectory opposed to the sophisticated direction dictated World civilization. That position escapes from the people without a wave of good bye. The House of Representatives, and indeed the Senate were doomed right from the very beginning. All it attracted in 1999 were the original inheritors of a culture invented by Abacha and Gerry Useni. Massive Fraud and torrential flood of corruption formed the foundation of their very beginning. Right from the first month, Salisu Buhari, its Speaker’s fraudulent certificates had threatened to burst lose. But with cunning connivance of President Obasanjo who is ever so quick to see opportunity in blackmail, the young fraud was sworn into the number four most powerful position in the most populous black Nation.
It took internal political intrigues within the house combined with agitation for lucrative committee positions by whistle blowers to burst the bubble lose. And the inventive young man who barely made grade three from Kings College Lagos parading fake intimidating Business degrees from Toronto University was thrown out into the dustbin of politics along with his fake papers. The takeover of pompous Na’aba and the huge feast on National Treasury was far more brazen in extravagance. Personality cult, financial opacity and drunken megalomania took hold of the house for the entire four years he held court. The public gallery was always filled with curious loafers who came to watch the political pornography in the House as they struggled, fought and shouted on one another. While scandals piled over scandals, the Country grew in mass poverty. Drug pushers became important Committee Chairmen. In fact, many will remember the late Morris Ibekwe, a 419 suspect who was once appointed House Committee Chairman on Police Affairs! It was that scandalous.
BANKY ARRIVES ON THE HOT SEAT
At the beginning of the current regime in 2007, a helpless looking hairdresser was imposed on the House by a mischevious dictator in retirement. A few weeks later, scandals broke out . A timid looking renovation contract soon exploded in the face of the Nation in brazen fraud and all hell broke loose. A so called Integrity group was set up to flush out Speaker Etteh who was determined to hang on to power. Bankole finally emerged from the ruins of Etteh’s House of fraud to succeed the woman as the new speaker. And now, here we go again. The present allegations confronting the Speaker makes Etteh’s scam look amateurish.
At least, Etteh had not spent a quarter of the funds before her scheme caved in. What puzzles Nigerians most is the character of fraud and stealing etched in the mind of the House no matter who leads it. They serve huge feasts on their table and look down on hungry Nigerians pretending the poor are fasting. They go abroad to tummy tuck their over ripe intestines with public funds while helpless Nigerians die because they cannot afford a lousy 500 Naira to obtain Hospital cards. How else do you define sin? THE HOUSE AND ITS PROBES The House of Representatives appears to have finally packed up all activities of lawmaking in preference for probes. Since its inauguration in the current term in 2007, not one law has been passed. Those very significant proposals aimed at curbing National excesses and brigandage like the FOI bill have been tossed up and down and cruelly fillibusted without care. And now, they have perfected a most ingenious device to make money by blackmail.
They call it probes and every committee of the House struggles to outdo the other. The scheme is very neat and tight. The invention ingenious. They have devised a cable through our emotions. For the tired public, they raise our anger level by brandishing humongous scandals in our face, shouting blue murder. Now for Contractors, they connect a wire to pull them into the House by creating fear and anxiety asking them to bring all their contract papers as well as Bank details where money was paid into. They do not care about corruption, rather they are determined to benefit from it by blackmailing the beneficiaries. And credible rumour alleges that they have been raking in huge income from all these . This year alone, the House has constituted over half a dozen probe panels investigating the most lucrative Ministries where blackmail can be most rewarding . The process is typical and ingenious. First, they open up a can of worms on National television to generate sympathy for their actions by applying high voltage shocks to a traumatized society. Next, they bring key actors of the past who are now very wealthy and powerful.
The letter of invitation sent to these big goons is expected to prompt them to some action. The very smart ones are suspected to promptly settle before they appear at the public hearing. You can tell who settled by the standing ovation that usually greet the submissions of these cunning men. Those unwise in the ways of the World who fail to settle are unkindly bombarded by cruel inquisitions and harassed and embarrassed out of the rooms . Some Foreign contractors not tuned to body signals have been whisked away straight to EFCC detention camps. Usually, after the public show of nationalism and anti corruption, these legislators now arrange for contractors to meet them on the field. They want to physically inspect their projects. This provides the opportunity for those who want to be left off the hook to deliver. Those who fail this unique opportunity face the challenge of penalties and proposals for sanctions in the reports that would usually follow.
One such probe appears to have backfired for these legislators as some stubborn contractors have refused to play ball and decided to stand up to them punch for punch and blackmail for blackmail. I am referring to the Committee on Power . A Committee which appears to be facing up to allegations of corruption by contractors they seek to indict.
SCANDALS AND CARS
The issues involved in what appears to be emerging rapidly as the House Car scandal are quite clear. There are allegations of corruption and perhaps creaming of profits from a 2.3 billion Naira car deal . That really remains allegations until proved. It is the implication of purchase of bullet proof cars to insulate leaders against the people they rule. For political leaders who should be waving in rickety old jeeps, shaking hands with the poor in Ajegunle and kissing babies in Umuahia just the way we see them do it abroad, this is abnormal. It is the outrageous management of the resources of a poor people. It is also the commandeering of the patrimony of a Nation. Finally it is the deprivation of critical sectors of the economy of growth and progress while criminally delaying budgets and padding them.
BULLET PROOF CARS AND A CONVOY FOR A YOUTH CORPER
Like earlier submitted, it is the issue of Bullet proof cars for the Speaker and his Deputy at such atrocious prices in a depressed economy that troubles common sense. It is also the unacceptable extravagance of 12 luxury rides aggressively kicking up dry dust on horribly maintained network of roads as the Speaker cruises around towns and villages. It is also about the nauseating ceremony of public office in an environment of abject poverty and decease. It is about a young bachelor barely through Youth Corps enjoying such horrible heritage of insanity in affluence. Nothing in normal society threatens the Speaker’s life. He is expected to control no funds directly and confer no benefits on contractors in any way as the constitution spells his roles clearly denying him of executive contract awards. And as we observe in advanced democracies after which we have designed our constitution. What threats confront the Speaker? Where except for the threat of armed robbers facing all Nigerians and against whom Bankole the bachelor and his ilk are expected to fashion out great laws to contain. Aside of the threats he faces at Abeokuta where he currently provokes Daniel in attempts to strengthen his ambitions for 2012 I fail to understand the enemies stalking the Speaker in Abuja.
12 CARS FOR GRAND CELEBRATION OF OFFICE
Then we are told the Speaker has a convoy of only 12 cars and he is replacing them all right now because some have started enjoying the mechanics attention. Does he realize that majority of youth corper graduates like him have no shoes to walk on? Can you imagine the effrontery of the baby legislator and his poor sensitivity to mass suffering. God Almighty!, twelve cars in one man’s convoy most of them bullet proof for what purpose. How many cars are in the convoy of Speaker Pelosi of the United States of America. The Speaker of the leading democracy in the World. A democracy projecting its awesome strength in space and one with almost a dozen Aircraft carriers the size of Abeokuta and Ijebu Ode combined policing our entire planet through International waters the Country has exclusively commandeered all to itself. Were Pelosi a Nigerian Speaker, her convoy of Aero planes would be close to a mile long in the atmosphere. And we are told she does not ride to her constituency in Air Force 1 Executive jets like Bankole the bachelor does. By the way, when Bankole retires from position of speaker in 2011 if he lasts that long, how many cars will follow him around town.
Because, by then, he would be married, probably have children and acquired a little more body fat. How much can he afford to buy cars for his wife’s shopping, cars for his children’s convoy to school and more cars to enjoy a convoy ride after having surrendered the House rides. He would need a convoy of at least 20 cars. How much money is he making to buy and attend to these distractions in an atmosphere of intense political discomfort he will soon suffer in Ogun State. That boy, with all that education must be so myopic that he cannot predict the loneliness he will surely suffer out of office. As for us, we must not give up on his promise. Let us first ascertain that there is no corruption traceable to his desk. If he is clean, let us forgive and request an unambiguous apology for his profligacy. Let us show him the inauguration speech of Obama and banish him from riding this sinful convoy until he quits office.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters