By Opemipo Bamiro
When on November 1, 2007, the House of Representatives electedÂ Â Dimeji Bankole as its speaker, following a protracted wrangling for the enthr-onement of accoun-tability, good governance and integrity of the House, many expected a radical departure from a hitherto docile House. But not many would have expected the new Speaker to thread where even the angels tremble in the Nigeria power equation.
But for Bankole who took his mandate of integrity, accountability and good governance very seriously, the reformist legislative agenda he championed overturned many apple carts that had constituted bottlenecks to Nigeria development.
For this audacity, many distractive tactics to stop his reformist agenda have been adopted to no avail. But in which areas has Bankole step on tender corrupt toes that had made some cabal to single him out for attacks using some gullible media men and cash and carry activists.
Shortly after his election in 2007, the 2008 Budget was presented for consideration of the National Assembly and Bankole decided to do the right thing as authorized by the constitution. Soon enough he championed the issue of scrutinizing the annual budgets and this led to the popularization of unspent funds which since he started it has now risen to about N750 billions in two years instead of the annual range of between N25 billion to N30 billion.
The practice before now is for the balance to be pocketed through end of year contract bazaar by officials. This he did not only among executive agencies but even in the House of Representatives where at the end of 2008 he caused N2.1 billion to be return to the treasury as unspent fund from the budget of the House.
For this patriotic move of returning unspent funds back to the treasury, for re-appropriation, many corrupt officials love to hate him. And some of his members could not understand his puritanical stand in relation to the House on this issue.
But Bankole realized as in the scriptural saying that one should remove the spec in his eye before helping others to remove the logs obliterating their vision.
And when Bankole decided that Nigerians deserves to know how billion of dollars was spent in the last 8 years without commensurate results in the power sector as a way of ensuring that Nigeria know why they are always in darkness and how to prevent future occurrence, his clan of supporters declined among the corrupt yesterday men of power.
Again Bankole got the House Committee on Finance to really do its job and its findings which he made available to the public became another source of depleting his supporters among the selfish cabal holding Nigeriaâ€™s development back. Bankole had disclosed that in about five years alone, revenue generating Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) had not remitted about N3 Trillion of revenue to the Federation Account as they should constitutionally.
Such revenue and its expenditure without appropriation by the National Assembly are illegal and unconstitutional in most cases. If they have been expended for services, we would have seen the difference in better services. But the reverse is the case.
For this he was accused of being a whistle blower by those who benefits from the system. But he remained undaunted and the House from available information is about enacting a bill to block what amount unconstitutional expenditure that may be corruptly induced. Many civil servants would for this see him as pouring sand in their â€œgarriâ€ but for Bankole, good governance must not be compromised no matter whose ox is gore.
Again in the heat of the electoral campaign for the Ekiti Governorship re-run, when there has already been killings, bloodshed and arson on a traditional rulers and propagandist threats of â€œrig and roastâ€ and call on the President to â€œorder for coffins for those likely to be killed!â€ during the election, Bankole stepped into the fray.
It was in the heat of this palpable fear and tension that Bankole said that the government will do everything possible including the use of soldiers to prevent breakdown of law and order during the election. For this he was attacked from all sides but his call was the saving grace for what would have been a bloodbath.
Ironically, the NBA one of the groups that condemned his call for use of soldiers to prevent breakdown of law and order have now presented a proposal as part of electoral reforms to the National Assembly calling for the use of military in election in view of its violent nature presently!
And recently in Kaduna, at the post-Amnesty Confid-ence Building workshop, on Niger Delta, Bankole who agree that Niger Delta have been unfairly treated nevertheless challenge the people of Niger Delta to question their leaders on what they have done with the huge funds that accrue to their states from the federation Account in recent times.
Some states in the region Bankole noted collects more money than that of whole geopolitical zone and the area has not much to show for it. Truth is bitter. Some powerful forces from Niger Delta were angry that Bankole spoke truth to them.
But we all know that truth is constant and many people including prominent Niger Delta leaders agreed with Bankole on the issue of accountability in government and management of public fund.
Again following the low level of budget implementation this year, Rt. Hon. Bankole from his privilege position told the country that N500 billion of money appropriated by the National Assembly and approved by Federal Executive Council for projects is lying idle at CBN and blame the civil servants for the problem which may be due to their lack of capacity.
This did not go down well with some of them. But Nigerians knows how many of them failed in examination for their promotion recently and their other antics which causes delay in implementation of projects.
For all this his traducers have sponsored various allegations of so far unproven misdeeds, like his buying a N350 million land in â€œAso Villaâ€ buying 18 Bulletproof Jeeps, spending N52 billion on travels, being arrogant etc just to cut him to size.
They have all failed as all are based on falsehood and media manipulation. One hope that Bankole will not be deterred from doing the bit he has started to begin to clear the Augean stable of Nigeria.
House 5, Close 1
Prince and Princess Estate,