By Japhet Alakam
It was a gathering of eminent personalities at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) Victoria Island venue of the public presentation of the book, Tenants of the House written byÂ Dr. Wale Okediran, a medical practitioner, writer, politician and former ANA president and former member of the House of Representatives as his friends, associates and lovers of book converged for the sole purpose of identifying with a worthy cause.
The book is a fictional account of happenings in the House of Representatives: politicking, conspiracy, corruption, intrigue, scheming and betrayal while the writer served as a Tenant in the house.
The event which took off at 10.00 am but did not receive the much expected dignitaries as the Chairman, Chief host and other Special guests were absent, an action that was later explained to be as a result of the gubernatorial election coming up next week in Anambra State.
That not withstanding, the event later proved to be another forum for many Nigerians to react to the ugly state of events in the country occasioned by the long absence of the President and the inability of the Federal executive council and the two legislative houses to follow the constitutional provisions.
In his opening remarks, The chairman of the occasion Bola Ahmed Tinubu who was represented by Ambassador, Akeju applauded Dr Okediranâ€™s profile as a medical practitioner, politician and writer and wished him well in his journey into creative writing. He described the work as a courageous and well written book and advised all to read it.
The book reviewer, Dr Reuben Abati of The Guardian newspaper described the book as a fictional account of some of the highlights of the authorâ€™s season (2003-2007) in Nigeriaâ€™s fourth republic. Saying that what the book offers is an artistic portrayal of the enduring challenge of leadership, not just in Nigeriaâ€™s tottering political space, but Africa. He commended the author for his courage and urged Nigerians to read the book.
After the review, there was a drama sketch by students of University of Ibadan drama group directed by Tunde Awosanmi. The drama which was an excerpts from the book gave the audience a graphic picture of what is going on in the various houses: How touts find their ways into the house and how public money are misdirected and misused.â€
In his contribution, the Senate Deputy Minority leader, Senator Olorunimbe Mamora, said that contrary to public insinuation that there is no morality in politics â€œto me there is morality in politics.â€ The only problem in Nigeria is that fraternity and mediocrity has been elevated to ugly and dangerous heights citing the prolonged absence of President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua and failure to hand over power to Vice President Goodluck Jonathan as treasonable instances.
Citing Section 1(2) of the constitution. Mamora, faulted the absence of ailing President Yarâ€™Adua from the country for 66 days â€œWhat has happened in Nigeria in the last 66 days is an eloquent essay on how not to run a country. Nigeria is now governed in a manner not consistent with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.â€ He said.
On his own part, National President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Chief Rotimi Akeredolu, recalled his days with the author at University ofÂ Ife andÂ expressed his surprise at his entry into creative writing. On the state of the nation he called on the Federal Executive Council to as a matter of urgency empower the Vice President to act on behalf of the President in order to endÂ the power vacuum in the country.â€œSomebody who has not been in the country and we have not seen him for the past two months, is not fit to run a country.â€He argued urging Nigerians not to be â€œdocile and believing that things will change.
According to him â€œWe just have to fight and struggle for it as no other country can redress the impunity we are facing. It is only we that can do that. Thatâ€™s exactly what Iâ€™m saying.â€
Prof. Akachi Ezeigbo said that the academia was distressed with what the political class has turned the Nigeria into and cautioned that enough is enough. On the book, she called on the publisher to make sure that the books are well distributed so as to make it available to all. She promised to teach the book in her second semester as a way of inculcating the much needed political consciousness on the father leaders.
On his part, poet and political activist ,Odia Ofeimun commended the author for the good job but charged all to be actively involved in politics as that is the only way that credible leaders will be elected. He likened elections in Nigeria to a civil war where the person with the greatest resources wins.
The chief presenter and Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko , said that the book is conveniently packaged as fiction but tells a lot of stories about Nigeria.Â He added that there is no legitimate platform for those who claim to be elected as elected. Stating that â€œthe only irreducibleÂ minimum for us to start talking about democracy is that, we must all decide that there must be credible elections.â€ Beside, Mimiko said the only solution to the countryâ€™s problem was electoral reforms, noting: that â€œThere is only one agenda in Nigeria and that is electoral reforms. If we donâ€™t have credible elections, nobody will be accountable to the people and nothing will move in this country.
Dr Olu Agunloye, former Mines and Power minister also observed that the indices of what we call a failed state are present in Nigeria.. Describing Nigeria as a team where the captain got wounded and is still on the pitch with clutches asked Nigerians to make up their mind for a change. Hon Abike Dabiri -Eruwa a co tenant in the house described the book as a factual fiction. According to her, as long as we do not take our destiny in our hands , things will not change. .She therefore called for passive resistence in order to change the situation.
The author Dr Wale Okediran in his vote of thanks expressed his appreciation for the honour done to him by those present.Â and said that by writingÂ the book he has offloaded the burden he carried in the house for six years as his colleagues in the writing profession demanded that he should not leave the house without writing the story. On what prompted him to write the book and why he used the expression â€œTenant in the Houseâ€ as the title of the book, he explained thatÂ â€œit is due to my experience as a former member of the National Assembly, because I have been there and know a lot of things that are in there, though the names I used in the book areÂ fake, the story is a fact about what is happening in Nigeria.â€
Dignitaries present at the launch are Senator Mamora, Gov. Mimiko of Ogun state,Mrs Abike Dabiri-Eruwa, Oyo State state governor represented by Commissioner for Education, Professor Taoheed Adedoja; Senator Bola Tinubu represented by Ambassador Toyin Akeju, Dr Olu Agunloye, Mrs Temi Harriman ,Mr Gbenro Adebola, MD of Nelson publishers, Prof. Akachi Ezeigbo , Odia Ofeimun and Mr Amele among others.