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Date Published: 11/24/09

Dimeji Bankole, enjoy while it last By Emmanuel Onwubiko


Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives Mr. Dimeji Bankole will never stop amazing analytically -minded and rational Nigerians with his warped logic and fallacy in his attempts to always sweep serious national issues under the dusty green rug in the chamber of the lower legislative chamber. If you are wondering why I used this strong but innocuous expression, then think no further but remember the less than impressive argument advanced last week by this young speaker when he unsuccessfully sought to defend the unprecedented expenses incurred by the legislators in the federal house of representatives in the last two years on ‘meaningless’ foreign trips which was conservatively put at a whooping N52 Billion of tax payers’ money.

The speaker whose friends, business associates and political acolytes have spent a fortune in flamboyant Newspaper adverts congratulating him on his fortieth birthday anniversary, attempted to put up a spirited defence that the Federal house of Representatives’ members have spent at least N52 billion as allowances on foreign trips since coming to offices just two years ago saying the amount was meagre compared to the funds that were approved for each ministry for the same purpose. Dimeji Bankole was quoted in the media to have said that the spending is in the national interest considering the value the lawmakers have added to the Country. Crossing the space of normality to the absurd, the Speaker, noted for his sophistry which is sometimes mistaken for erudition, stated that one such trips to Turkey attracted $1 billion USD into Nigeria in investments translating to N160 billion which in his illogical estimation, justifies the spending  of N52 Billion by the legislators.

The speaker failed spectacularly to tell Nigerians whether the parliamentarians in other nations spend such hugely obscene amount of public funds so as to attract foreign direct investments into their countries that have tremendously developed far above Nigeria. Nigeria recently bagged the notorious appellation as the nation whose political office holders are the highest paid in the World, courtesy of a study by the Transparency International, the Berlin-based international non-governmental body.


The speaker failed to appreciate the fact that in compliance with part two,  section four of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the members of the Federal House of Representatives were first and foremost elected by the Nigerian people to make quality laws to improve the living condition of the citizenry and that they are to be located in the National Assembly of Nigeria in Abuja and not to globe trot in direct competition with the members of the executive arm of government. Section 68 [1] [f] of the constitution even made a provision for a mandatory period of time that is two third of the total number of days that the house meets in a year that each member is expected to be in attendance else the person loses his/her membership. This provision shows that the drafters of the constitution were aware of the damage that frequent foreign trips by members could cause the nation adversely because of the fact that the members ought to sit down in the chamber of the national assembly to make quality laws for the good governance of Nigeria and to also undertake their oversight functions over the agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria. Rather than make good and quality laws for Nigerians, the law makers since the inception of the current democratic dispensation have largely operated like stooges of the executive arm of government and other private business concerns so much so that they travel on the tickets of these government ministries and private firms to foreign countries on the so-called capacity building seminars to the detriment of their most fundamental work of law making. Only last week, both the Senate and the House could not agree on the acceptable venue for the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to make his 2010 budget presentation. While the Senate claims seniority over the House of Representatives, the House claims that the chamber of the federal House of Representatives is the proper venue for the presentation of the budget proposals. Concerning budget presentation, I will go with my senior brother Dr. Reuben Abati who argued rightly in his The Sunday Guardian column of 22 November 2009 that the President should separately lay his budget proposals on the different tables of the two chambers since the so-called law makers are quarrelling over a thing as simple as an appropriate venue for the joint sitting to be addressed by the President.

In any case, section 67 [1] which talks about right of attendance of president states that; ‘’ The President may attend any joint meeting of the National Assembly or any meeting of either House of the National Assembly, either to deliver an address on national affairs including fiscal measures or make such statement on the policy of government as he considers to be of national importance’’. The drafters of this document did not contemplate a situation whereby Nigerians will be foisted with lazy law makers who would rather than settle down to work, would engage in meaningless foreign and ego trips just to  frustrate the institutionalization of  good governance in Nigeria. What a shame?

Dimeji Bankole please enjoy youth and your larger than life position while it last. But remember that power is transient. While you look down from your Olympian height on the rest of us who are at the receiving end of the regime of maladministration that is the hallmark of the current democratic experiment in virtually all parts of Nigeria, please remember that power is not permanent and that one day you will return to join us in the traffic jams and attend the same markets with the rest of us and even though your position may confer on you some levels of wealth, merited or unmerited, but the wealth will not shield the faces of the heavily impoverished millions of Nigerians who are now eking out a living in extremely precarious economic condition made worse by the incompetent ways that the current political office holders have managed our commonwealth. As your contemporary, I am obliged to advise you to thread softly and remember the poorest of the poor who are in the majority. Please stop talking down nonsense on the poor by saying that N52 billion that can comfortably create over a thousand jobs was well spent on legislators’ foreign trips. As Fela said ‘teacher don’t teach me nonsense,’ Bankole stop this joke.

+Onwubiko heads Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria.  

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