No, this is not about the Broadway musical or its recent re-incarnation at the box-office. It is not even about some new wonder hair product designed to give your coiffure a nice shiny bounce. Truth be told, with the tangled state our legislative hairdo has been in lately, it could do with a generous spray of such product.
This is about the “hairesy” that has been playing out in the lower house of the National Assembly for a while now. There is no point re-stating the facts here again. Over the past few months, all the parties involved have let down their hair more than a fair bit such that even the most uninterested among us can see to the root of the whole scandal.
As has become peculiar to political scandals in these climes, an issue as simple and bare-faced as a contract scam has been conditioned in so much hoopla that it has become hirsute with diversionary complexity and even tragedy. Our little theatre of the absurd has thrown up so many diversionary issues that one begins to wonder just precisely what are we splitting hairs over.
There is the vocal flatulence of the loud-mouthed leviathan in Ibadan declaring any attempt to impeach the Speaker as an affront on the Yoruba race. This becomes even more disturbing when supposedly-informed minds like Dr. Frederick Fasheun echo such crass ethnic sentiments.
There is the pro-feminist camp which considers the Speaker’s travails (interesting! she decides to spend N628million renovating her residence in a country where more than half of the population subsists on less than a dollar a day, and she winds up the victim!) to be the handiwork of chauvinists who are against a woman attaining such political heights. This is just as absurd as it is…well, absurd! To this group, I say, Etteh’s attainment of the position of Speaker has not in any way advanced the course of women(whatever that is). Rather, her actions thus far have provided ammunition for chauvinists who feel women have no business in the political arena. At this point, I am only waiting to hear protests against her impeachment from her marital homestead of Akwa Ibom state hinged on the fact that her present travails are informed by the fact that she is (or was?) married to an Akwa Ibom man! Then I can finally conclude that we have finally lost it as a nation!
Then there is the touching platitude from Madam Speaker’s mother to let her daughter be as her foray into politics was informed by her passion to serve her people. That is to be expected from a mother as I am certain even mine will swear that I became a lawyer solely to fight for the right of the oppressed and the down-trodden! Sadly, I deny such noble motives. However, the only passion the speaker has displayed so far is clinging on to power even when doing so is to the detriment of the very people she is passionate to serve!
In one of her bumbling responses to the scandal, Madam Speaker regaled us with how she saved us millions of naira by choosing to stay quartered in her personal residence rather that a 5-star hotel pending the renovation/upgrading of her official residence. We should be so lucky that rather than take “one more beer for our head”, Madam Speaker was magnanimous enough to reduce our bar tab!
In all of this, the incompetence of Madam Speaker’s media handlers and spin doctors has remained as obvious as her unsuitability for the exalted office she has refused to vacate. In a feeble attempt to deflect the barbs, one of her minders defended that the actual cost of the contract is N234million and not N628million as widely reported. A classic case of “them say e break, you say e tear!” What Madam Speaker and her minders apparently have failed to appreciate is that it matters not what the amount is. The question is; in the midst of pressing national issues to attend to and the prevalent poverty in the country, how do you justify the thought process that prioritised the renovation/upgrading of just two residences for such outrageous amounts over and above more pressing social issues?
Eventually, when she falls as indeed she will (but with PDP’s brand of abracadabra, you never can tell) I am willing to bet that her minders will be in the forefront of those condemning her ill-advised intransigence. Much like the clown in Edo state who, the other day, pronounced the 8-year administration of his benefactor(he did invite him to “come and chop” in his “repeat” performance) a failure. Yet, when reminded that he was a special adviser to the said benefactor, he made certain to distinguish that then, he could only advise and not implement. Fair enough, as the incumbent spare tyre, he is now in a position to implement his brilliant ideas. God, and lately, the Supreme Court and electoral tribunals willing, we shall be able to assess his performance at the end of his tenure.
Perhaps, in keeping with her penchant for wasteful spending, Madam Speaker once again frittered away a face-saving opportunity to redeem herself. The unfortunate death of Honourable Safana afforded her an opportunity to step down and save us all the ordeal of her pointless cling to power. But not Madam Speaker. Apparently, integrity has deserted these climes. On second guess, maybe it has not. For now, it is the distinguishing nomenclature for one of the participating sides in the fight club that is now the House of Representatives.
Goaded on by her puppet masters, she has refused to vacate her office and save us all the torture of this prolonged bad-hair day! She has decided to follow the long list of failed public officers who, rather than take the high road, preferred to hold on to power in their descent into infamy. With a known proclivity for acquiring diplomas, she is intent on adding another one to her kitty before she goes down. So, here it is; step up to the podium and accept your diploma in failed leadership. As class valedictorian, Madam Speaker, you are a disgrace to hairdressers everywhere!