April 2021
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Bankole without the White Cap

How people change under different circumstances! Honorable Dimeji Bankole, former speaker of the House of Representatives, looked quite different without his signature- the white kaftan, especially the white cap, on the day he was whisked away in a T-shirt and a pair of pants by the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). In those three white items- a shokoto, a safari top and a cap- with a pair of black sandals to match, the former Speaker of the House looked like a young radical, a revolutionary Mallam. You would think that coming from a Masters class in Harvard, without a wife, the young man was ready to play role model to many a Nigerian Youth.
Now, without the kaftan, without the white cap, Dimeji Bankole looks like a baron of sorts, with a balding head and quite out of character. Last week Thursday, our own Steve Ayorinde had actually called him “Baron Bankole.”My concern here is not that Mr. Bankole led a House riddled with allegations of fraud and financial improprieties. That is now a matter for the courts to determine. My concern here is that the Sixth House of Reps did not enact people-centered, youth empowering, legislations and so failed to inspire confidence in Nigerians; even though it was led, for the most part, by a young, revolutionary, looking Speaker.
People had thought, quite erroneously, that the white cap and being youthful conferred on Bankole a toga of integrity, of strong moral character, of revolutionary mien, of legislative combativeness. Unfortunately, the Sixth House did not portray these characteristics. It failed to perform its oversight functions on the banking industry and the financial services sector, resulting in the crash of the national economy which was conveniently blamed on the global economic meltdown. Its apparent combativeness against the Senate over the chairmanship of the joint sitting of the National Assembly for constitutional amendment was entirely self-serving; precious time was wasted by the House on debating legislators’ allowances and perquisites of office to the detriment and neglect of myriads of problems troubling Nigerians on a daily basis.
Bankole’s leadership of the Sixth House watched nonchalantly as the legitimate grievances of the citizens snowballed into brigandage, hostage taking, kidnapping and outright terrorism. It failed to task the executive arm of government to fix the dilapidated federal road infrastructure and to resuscitate the abandoned rail transportation system that could have significantly buoyed economic activities. It was the first House in our constitutional history to make state purchase of generators a budgetary matter, thereby signing the death warrant of the national capacity for electricity generation and distribution, a feat that smaller climes have performed almost effortlessly, without media propaganda.
Admirers of the Sixth House may well point to the belated passage of the Freedom of Information (FoI) and the Minimum Wage bills as examples of democracy enhancing legislations enacted by the House; but what about the fraudulent injection of N200billion into the 2011 budget by the leadership of the House and the earlier scheme to insulate legislators from being subjected to re-election with a view to indefinitely prolonging their stay in office, contrary to the constitution which they swore to uphold and defend?
With the exception of a few members like Honorable Melaye and his associates, the Sixth House had been described by discerning Nigerians as the assembly of greed. It is on record that instead of making law for the good governance of the country, members of the Dimeji Bankole led House spent a huge chunk of their time doctoring the Revised 2010 Electoral Act, obtaining loans from the banks and sharing same amongst themselves, as if that was the sole reason for being elected into the House. It was as if justice meant, for the legislators, the ability to get more than others or to make a smart exploitation of the trust which many put in the democratic process. By their greed and insensitivity to the aspirations of Nigerians, the legislators of the Sixth House have colluded with the entire political class to breed intolerable level of youth unemployment, brigandage and visionless terrorism.
The Dino Melaye dimension to the politics of the House exposed the avarice of its leadership and brought it up for media and public scrutiny. Perhaps, the real Bankole is the one without the white cap. Without the white cap, Bankole looks totally different, quite like a baron. A baron in a legislative assembly is a democratic anomaly. The Seventh House of Reps and, indeed, Nigerians should look out for yet another democratic anomaly, already masquerading as Tambuwalism.

  • Anonymous

    This is wonderful. Good research Prof. I wish to add that everyone has two sides. Yes. One needs to do research to know his/her other side? Good or Bad? May God save Nigeria.

  • Administrator

    Thanks Taiwo, for your nice comment. Please keep it up. All hands should be on deck to rebuild Nigeria.

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