Once again Nigerians are all agog over the resignation of Patricia Etteh, the disgraced House Speaker who was alleged to have approved #628 million for the renovation of her official residence and that of his deputy, Nguroje Babangida, as well as the buying of twelve exotic cars. The battle had started almost immediately she assumed the exalted office as the number four citizen.
During the battle, one house member lost his life, but Etteh considered it appropriate to continue the fight. She must fight to be. As far as Etteh is concerned, #628 million is not that much to renovate an already renovated official residence and buying exotic cars. What do they mean by exotic cars anyway? No car is too exotic for a woman of Etteh’s status. Nigeria has money and so what is the increasing hubbub all about?
But the opposing house members fought till the end. At first, I had thought it was because Madam speaker did not palm their hands, but now I could see that the bone of contention is/was much more than that. Etteh committed a crime and she must be punished. As from now on, no erring public officials should be allowed to go scot-free – no matter how influential she may be.
Of course I am delighted over Etteh’s sudden resignation but as far as I am concerned, there’s nothing to celebrate yet. Why should I jubilate when the battle against ineptitude service to the nation is still rampant? Why should I celebrate when we have not even started battling corruption in a way to battle it? Although the exit of Etteh and Nguroje is a welcome development, there are still thousands of them in the public service. Etteh may be out but her soul pervades every nook and cranny of our society.
Nigerian society accepts and honours Etteh and her ilk. This vast country of 140 million souls nurtures and protects Ettehairstyle otherwise Etteh would never have become number four Nigerian. It is apparent that she did not prepare for such responsibility. Does Madam even know what it means to be a Speaker of the House? She was selected and imposed on Nigerians just like Mr. President whom I prefer calling a caretaker President until the Election Tribunal decides otherwise.
Etteh went to the Lower House with one aim: to accumulate wealth. I admire the woman because she didn’t mince her words or waste time about her intention. Perhaps she was too careless in her greed, thinking the emperor would always rally round her no matter how. Obviously she had fallen for his power. This emperor was also disgraced out of aso Rock. Birds of the same feather.
It is quite unfortunate that Nigerians are jubilating instead of planning how to remove every Etteh from the service. Honestly speaking, the profound problem is not Etteh but the system in place that often breeds Ettehairstyle. This is what every Nigerian should focus on. This is what should be our chewing words as from now.
It does not augur well to kick out Etteh and leave David Mark, the Senate President and Musa Yar’Adua, the President behind. This is because all of them were imposed on us by the power of that moment called Obasanjo. None of these actors by virtue of their personalities or utterances is qualified to hold the position of number One, Three and Four respectively. Was it not David Mark who told us during the military regime that telephone was not meant for the poor? Is there not trouble in his own House too?
Corruption and inefficiency come in different form. Rigging elections is perhaps the mother of all corruption and illegalities. Thank God Yar’Adua himself has admitted that elections which brought him to power was not without discrepancies. Let him also resign before people chase him out. It is not enough to admit that one is an armed robber. Let him who know he is an armed robber returns the loot and then repents. That is the hallmark of a virtuous man.
As Frederick Douglass once said, The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous. With David Mark as the Senate President and Musa Yar’Adua as the President, can we honestly say that our nation is secure? I don’t think so. And this is the main reason we should suspend our jubilation over Etteh’s woe and concentrate on expelling other impostors. Let us fight Yar’Adua’s imposition as much as we have fought Etteh’s.
In all, there are lessons to learn from Ettehairstyle. Power is not absolute but transient. Yesterday, Obasanjo coerced us into believing he’s almost God. He did everything with emotions or perceptual stimuli. He behaved as if he owns Nigeria and Nigerians. He mocked us with his sarcastic and expensive jokes. He reduced us to a mere slave in our own country.
And above all, he deprived us of our votes. He chose his comrades to succeed him. But that was yesterday. Today one of his comrades has been removed from the glass House. I wonder what would be in the mind of this Theology student. Is he too going to be prosecuted along the way? Time will definitely tell.