Speaker Bankole to go!!

Dimeji BankoleSources in the House of Representatives have informed that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Dimeji Bankole would soon be forced to vacate office. This is coming as some of the members of the House gave the Speaker, seven days to resign or be impeached. learnt that some formidable members of the House that had hitherto stood between Bankole and impeachment by his enemies have decided to withdraw their support.

Yesterday a group in the House that styles itself as “the progressives” said they had incontrovertible facts and documents to incriminate Bankole in several scams, if he failed to resign honourably within the given period.

The group were fortified in their determination to force out Bankole based on reports that Ndudi Elumelu, former Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Power is set to spill out the beans on the involvement of the speaker in the alleged N6billion Rural Electrification Agency (REA) scam.

Ndudi Elumelu, Nicholas Ugbane, Mohammed Jibo, Elumelu’s deputy; Paulinus Igwe, Samuel Gekpe, Managing Director of Rural Electrification Agency; Abdulahi Aliyu, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power; and a number of others are standing trial in the Federal High Court, Abuja, on a 157-count charge of “criminal breach of trust” .

It would be recalled that Dimeji Bankole denied involvement in the N6billion contract scam over which Elumelu and the other lawmakers and a serving Senator Nicholas Ugbane are currently being prosecuted by the anti-graft agency EFCC.

But reports say that Bankole used a company owned by his younger brother as proxy in the oily deal. Accusing fingers pointed to the leadership of the House as major beneficiaries of the controversial N6 billion rural electrification projects.

Bankole is now said to be worried that the accused lawmakers may be willing to squeal on details of the messy deal.

Observers believe that the House under Bankole has been characterized by series of scandals.

Besides the N3.2billion sleaze car purchase scam for lawmakers, others bother on furniture, electronics and sundry fraudulent procurements.

Yesterday the leadership of the House of Representatives issued a statement, accusing the opposing group of only serving its interest and not that of the members.

But in a statement read by Leader of the ‘impeach Bankole group’, Dino Melaye, PDP, Kogi, the group said the Speaker had the worst leadership style and qualities since 1999.

He said: “This is a clarion call to right the wrong of legislative practice in the House of Representatives, and all the negativity, as a result of bad leadership. We state unequivocally, that the House of Representatives you read about in 1999 up to the time that Bankole became Speaker, is not the same today.

“The public perception of the House has declined. We used to be pacesetters of legislative practice in this country, but it is obvious that we have been overtaken because of the ineptitude of leadership.

 “Because of all these negative manifestations, those under Bankole, has nose-dived and lost its earned positive reputation. We, therefore, call on Bankole to resign immediately as the Speaker within seven days.”

Melaye added: “This group has overwhelming evidence, information here, (holding up a green file with a bunch of documents), everything you see here. This file contains incriminating records that we will publish. We will give to you the media. I want to assure you that in seven days, we will write a petition that every member, including those on recess will sign, and we will send it to EFCC, ICPC, NSA, SSS and indeed, PDP.

“This is no child’s play. We have resolved to clean our House. We have resolved and are determined that he who comes to equity must come with clean hands. And we have resolved that the evidence will be given to each of you. And we are ready to defend it anywhere and anytime.”

Representatives in attendance included Solomon Awhhinawhi, PDP, Delta; Asita Positive, PDP, Rivers; Darlintgon Okereke, PDP, Ebonyi, and Austin Nwachukwo, PDP, Imo.

Others were Bitru Kaze, PDP, Plateau; Anas Adamu, PDP, Jigawa; Ralph Okeke, PDP, Anambra; and Independence Ogunewe, PDP, Imo.

Many members also accused Bankole of being petty. They cited his reaction after the brawl between Bankole and Ogunewe last week.

As immediate fallout of the brawl, Bankole sacked the chairmen of two standing committees of the House. Also removed were three deputy chairmen and he reconstituted eight other committees, in a move interpreted as a bid to dislodge some of his perceived opponents in the House.

One of the removed chairmen is Mr. Gbenga Oduwaiye, the Chairman of the Committee on Intra and Inter-Party Relations and an anti-Bankole lawmaker from his home state, Ogun.

The Chairman of the Committee on Army, Alhaji Shetima Shehu, was also removed.

The three sacked deputy chairmen are Mr. Kayode Amusan (Housing and Habitat); Mr. Gbenga Onigbogi (Niger Delta); and Mr. Asita Honourable (Anti-Corruption).

Amusan, who also hails from Ogun State, is another opponent of the Bankole leadership. Eight other committees were reconstituted by the speaker.

They are the committees on co-operation/integration in Africa; power; works; information; customs; house services; urban development; and privatisation/commercialisation.

The new Chairman of the Committee on Power is Mr. Patrick Ikhariale from Edo State.

The Deputy Whip of the House, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, was asked to handle the power committee after Bankole dissolved the committee, formerly chaired by Mr. Ndudi Elumelu in 2009.

Bankole appointed Mr. Onyema Chukwuka from Anambra State as the new chairman of the Committee on Works.

The seat has been vacant since 2009 when the former occupant, Mr. Chuma Nzeribe, was removed from the House by the Court of Appeal.

Mr. M.C. Tahir takes over as the chairman of the Committee on Army, while Mr. Ahmed Wadada was redeployed to the Committee on Information from the Committee on Capital Market.

Mr. Rufus Omeire is the new chairman of the Committee on Intra and Inter-Party Relations, replacing Oduwaiye, who was sacked.

Mr. Yakubu Dogara was moved from the Committee on Customs to the Committee on House Services.

Mr. Mohammed Hamma-Kura, formerly of House Services, was moved to Committee on Urban Development.

Mr. Farouk Umar was moved from Urban Development to the Committee on Customs.

A member from Yobe State, Mrs. Khadijat Ibrahim, now heads the Committee on Privatisation/Commercialisation, while Mr. Chinedu Eluemuno from Anambra State was appointed as the chairman of the Committee on Co-operation/Integration in Africa.

Though a spokesman of the House, Mr. Eseme Eyiboh, denied speculations that some of the changes were directed at Bankole’s opponents in the House, but one of the sacked chairmen said that it was fallout of the brawl between Bankole and Ogunewe last Wednesday.

The lawmaker said chairmen were among members who insisted that Ogunewe should not be suspended.

However, the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Eseme Eyiboh, in a statement yesterday noted: “The attention of the leadership of the House of Representatives has been drawn to activities of some self styled ‘progressives’ in the House who misled the perceptive public with their proverbial ‘ostrich display’ of selfish tendencies in the guise of public interest.

“Their activities could best be swan song from an orchestra, but they are advised to avail themselves with the House Rules and extant provisions of the relevant status.

“The present leadership is a creature and creation of the generality of the House and the present synergy culminating in the successful constitution review vindicate the acceptability of the leadership. These progressives should vacate their theatre or be absolved and come join other discernible members to complement the current legislative engagement for executive actions.”