Date Published: 09/30/09
BANKOLE: THE NEW “MR. FIX IT” ON MISSION TO ANAMBRA. By Chief Nnamdi Okorie JP
Last week, Alhaji Sayyid Abba Ruma, the Minister of Agriculture was announced by the publicity secretary of PDP, Professor Rufai Alkali as the chairman of Anambra State Congress Committee. A day later, he was replaced by Rt. Hon. Dimeji Bankole, the Speaker of House of Representatives. Why the sudden change of this critical position in a state that is noted for its volatility and brimming with powerful forces?
Professor Alkali offered the explanation that Alhaji Abba Ruma informed that he will be facing some national assignment in the area of agriculture but that may just be a plausible way of saying a ‘better’ politically correct person is needed for the job of using Anambra as a test case of a new PDP. Some have since revealed that the change was at the instance of no less a person than President Umaru Yar’Adua, who wanted to use a successful Anambra primary to enhance his democratic credentials among not only party faithful but also Nigerians.
President Yar’Adua was said to have ordered that members of the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) and the State Executive Council of the party be excluded from the conduct of the primary to produce PDP candidate for the February 6, 2010 Governorship election in Anambra.
But who will lead the team to actualize the Presidents attempt at re-invention of PDP electoral process. Who will manage a state congress in a state that have produced such personalities as Zik of Africa, Professor Chinua Achebe, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, Dr. Pius Okigbo and his brother Christopher, Louis Ojukwu and his son Ikemba, Francis Cardinal Arinze, Papal Nuncio, Bishop Jude Okolo, beatified Rev.Fr. Iwene Tansi, Professors Chike Obi, Kenneth Dike, Martin Aghaji, Dora Akunyili, Ben Enwonwu, Philip Emeagwali, Ben Nwabueze SAN, Oby Ezekwesili, Chiefs Nwafor Orizu, Philip Umeadi SAN, Mokwugwo Okoye, Emeka Anyaoku, Cyprian Ekwensi, Chimamanda Adichie, Power Mike, Mary Onyali-Omagbemi, Innocent Egbunike, Francis Obikwelu and the first Nigerian to win gold medal in an international sporting event in Vancouver 1954, Emmanuel Ifeajuna etc. Who indeed have a reputation as “Mr. Fix It” of a new order devoid of negativity of the past? Who can manage the godfathers, the money bags and warlords that is part of Anambra political tapestry? No doubt, the choice of Bankole must be pursuant of the President wish to make PDP truly and genuinely democratic and to insulate himself from any charge of partisanship as Abba Ruma is known to be related to the President and it could be assume that it is the President’s agenda he is sent to implement.
Apparently, Bankole represent the new face of PDP and an emerging national leader that could be counted on to do the right thing not only for his party but also the nation. His track record as a leader speaks volume about the above assertion. Since his assumption of office as Speaker, Bankole has shown a determination to right a few wrongs in our national life using the platform of the 360 members of the House of Representatives. One can talk about his championing the return of unspent fund starting from 2007 Budget instead of public and civil officials pocketing billions of naira of budgetary allocations. Same could be said for the issue of MDAs not remitting revenue generated totaling over N5 Trillion to the Federation Account as they should constitutionally in the last five years.
But more importantly, the choice of Bankole to fix Anambra PDP primary must have been informed by his believe and championing the enthronement of internal democracy in political parties as a minimum in the quest for a credible electoral system. Bankole on the floor of the House and at other for a on our electoral system, always says that we cannot get it right in our electoral system without internal democracy in our political parties. He will want the curtailment of godfathers and moneybags in the internal democracy of political parties. So who else could foot the bill of fixing Anambra primary democratically to fulfill a Presidential and PDP agenda of setting an example in internal democracy?
Of course, Bankole have been given major national assignment by the President which he fixed creditably. One recalls his role as the Amirul Hajj of the 2008 Holy Pilgrimage to Mecca and how reportedly, for the first time in two decades, Nigeria successfully airlifted all intending pilgrims ahead of schedule. The same happened on the homeward journey after the Hajj as all pilgrims were brought back home 48 hours before the scheduled time.
It will also be recalled that it was Bankole that President Yar’Adua sent to Jos on December1, 2008 following the sectarian violence that erupted during a local council election. On arrival at Jos, Bankole went to the thick of still raging violence and pacified those bent on revenge as well as saved the lives of some officials who those aggrieved want to attack for their alleged role in the mayhem. On return to Abuja the House passed a resolution on the crisis and an investigative committee was set up. Indeed, Bankole was instrumental to de-escalating the crisis as some members in the House tried in vain to use the platform of the House to fan embers of violence.
Bankole credential to fix Anambra PDP primary is also buoy by his antecedent in the quasi-national assignment as a member of the campaign committee of the Ekiti Governorship election rerun. Prior to his intervention, there has been all manner of threats and violence. People were killed prior to the election, palaces attacked and burned. So when Bankole stepped in, his major task was to assure of security, law and order using all legitimate means including the possibility of calling in the soldiers. Not surprisingly, the election was conducted with minimum violence in relation to what the prognosis portends.
One is not surprise however, on the choice of Bankole. In addition to his antecedents, some of which are enumerated above, his forthrightness, patriotism and enlightenment perforce push him towards assignment requiring diligence, impartiality and equity. And the situation in Anambra PDP requires one that is above board, with a track record of integrity, penchant to redress wrongs and unwillingness to compromise or use his position for personal gain. No wonder, when the President went to France for bi-lateral talk, he specifically asked Bankole to join the executive arm for the talk in an unprecedented move in the annals of our foreign policy.
Without doubt, Bankole is now assuming the toga of “Mr. Fix It” of a new order in PDP in which the President as party leader want to enshrine democratic ethos in the running of the party. It only remains to be seen if the gladiators of Anambra politics and the 47 contestants would buy into the vision of creating a democratic environment that makes people count and not money bags, godfathers and warlords.
Chief Nnamdi Okorie JP
13, Uratta Road, Aba,