Who is Mr. Speaker going to speak for?

by Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku

Members of the House of Represettehtives must be given credit for ignoring the rope-a-dope antics of the erstwhile chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Ali Ahmadu. He with his party had hemmed and hummed, they blew hot and cold, and employed all the arm-bending political gimmicks at their disposal to whip party members into line concerning their represettehtive, the former speaker. At last, he eventually swallowed his spittle and spite, and settled down to want to do business with the choice of the members of the house, Oladimeji Bankole. Nobody can tell at this stage of the election of the youthsome Mr. Speaker what and whose interest he is likely to serve as he begins to settle down to the pushs and shoves of legislative business, and in trying to dodge the banana peels strewn in his path by the enemies of our progress. The fact that it is impossible to know which direction he leans, and the fact that nobody can read the handwriting on the wall of his mind now, is probably because it is a little too early for anyone to do so. Otherwise, since politics in Nigeria is a game of dark motives and Machiavellian derring-do, it will do us no harm whatsoever if we undertake a sneaky little psychoanalytic ride into the famous antecedents that ushered him into the nation’s much feared and very powerful position of speakership.

First of all, we have already made the mistake of falling in love with that gap in his dental configuration, forgetting that not too recently, a gap-toothed general helped himself to $12.5billion of the Gulf War oil windfall with the instrumentality of an unctuous gap-toothed grin that was reinforced mostly by coercion. Now, there are reasons why we seem to have allowed ourselves fall for that gap-tooth ruse this time; one, we desperately needed a breather from the indiscretion and the trauma that the removal of the former speaker put us through. Two, some of us are also blown away with the young Tutankhamen’s seemingly impeccable antecedents and carriage: here is one young man, who studied mostly in the United Kingdom and now the most eligible bachelor worldwide after William and Harry, Prince Charles’ boys, thereby making him a big contrast to his predecessor who lacked the grace of uneducated and allegedly a divorcee. Such is our hunger for respect and for dignity after the fall of Madam Speaker that we seem to have allowed the hallelujah of the moment get us drunk, forgetting that the young man was not elected into that house because respect in the house of represettehtives will put food on the table of Nigerians. Such is our regard for his youth and for the location of his education that we have forgotten that we once had ‘educated’ and ‘young’ speakers like Chuba Okadigbo and Ghali Na’abba who spent a lot of public monies on flowers and on sending their uncles for medical treatment abroad. What about Adolphus Wabara? Is he not an educated man? And Salisu Buhari? Was he not the uneducated but young Toronto Turk who first of all introduced a measure of disrespect to the office of Speaker by claiming to be what he was not? Was he not the same age as the new speaker? Or is it because he speaks what you may say is the Queen’s English, with a semi-cockney accent, and you think that that quarantines him from being a willing and an unwilling tool in the hands of those that want him as a willing tool? Whose interest will he be serving at the House of Represettehtives? How is he ever going to break free from the shackles of the so-called Integrity group that fought tooth and nail to get him into the speakership? How is he ever going to cope with the eternal battle waged by the centripetal forces in the house that recently lost in the game of long knives played among the trio of Ibrahim Babangida, Abubakar Atiku and Olusegun Obasanjo? How is he ever going to convince you and I that the circumstances of his upbringing makes him unfit to speak for us?

The time has come for Nigerians to begin to express a good measure of pessimism (as they are doing now) concerning those who put themselves up for public office. And that is because the Nigerian leadership project is like one that has been hijacked by a virus introduced into the political space by whom, we may not be able to tell for now. But it does appear that our politicians are more interested in the acquisition of power than in the spirits and principles that guide their acquisition of power. Examine Mr. Speaker again – his condition is the unfortunate tragedy of most Nigerians who want power at all costs. A lot of them (if they have ever heard about it) think that places like Mushin, Ajegunle, Maroko and Ketu are places you find on atlases or on the moon. A lot of them are not aware or feign ignorance that eight years ago a state in Nigeria, Borno, was considered the least developed in terms of the human development index in the whole of the West African Sub-region, and that that condition remains so even today. Many of them, like Mr. Speaker, have no idea whatsoever about the appalling living conditions of Nigerians, not until some of them had the good sense to visit the Niger Delta to see the squalor and the unspeakable filth that certain pigs, with some good breeding will never want to live in. In that case, what kind of represettehsion will he be doing on behalf of a people he hardly knows? What kind of laws will he and his honourable colleagues be making for a people they hardly know?

The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Ghatso, who was recently awarded congressional honour by the United States government had said in his acceptance speech of the Communist government of China, that, ‘’it is not enough, to provide people with food, shelter and clothing. If we have these things but lack the precious air of liberty to sustain our deeper nature, we remain only half human’’, end of quote. But we must also have the courage to tell Mr. Speaker and indeed the Nigerian government, whose officials have never visited Maroko, or gone to see the filth Nigerians live in, in Mushin, and whose children may never attend school somewhere in Ajegunle with schools nearly submerged by water, that they are useless to Nigerians if they cannot use this sweet air of freedom that we enjoy now to provide food, decent living conditions, health and clothing for our people.

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