On the last day or thereabout of the scandal-ridden Dimeji Bankole-led House of Representatives, the charcoal used to clothe the former Speaker, Hon (Mrs.) Patricia Etteh, was consigned to the dustbin of history. In its place, Etteh was clothed in white. Those House members who called Etteh corrupt, thus, exposing her to public ridicule, reversed themselves and presented her as a clean woman. Below is her ugly story and the House:
In 2007, Ette, made history as the first woman to emerge as the Speaker of the House of Representatives. In that position, she automatically Nigeria’s number four citizen and she was admired and envied by many both within and outside the House. But it was obvious that those who envied her were more in number.
Therefore from day one, they saw nothing good in her as they holes in everything she did. It even became obvious that they felt she was undeserving of the Speakership. Even the media then didn’t help matters because the story every day, almost, was one anti-Etteh story or the other.
They said her educational qualification was poor and that she could only boast of only a diploma in law. Funny enough, this was coming from the House a number of its members had only school certificate and/TC 11, as their qualification. This particular story quickly reminds me of story of the harlot in the Bible. They said she got it while she was already a member of the House at the University of Abuja but many of them were, by the way, guilty of that too.
Again, they used her business line to ridicule her that she owned a hair dressing salon. So, everyday she was called an ordinary hair-dresser as if hair dressing is not a profession. They forgot that this same Etteh was doing her second term in the House. In my opinion, that at least bestowed some knowledge, some exposure and some qualification on her. They zeroed in on her alleged political godfather.
They insisted that she was imposed on them by the then President, Olusegun Obasanjo. Meanwhile, many of them were imposed on their constituents by one godfather or the other. Then they began to insinuate that she had a “special” relationship with Obasanjo. My response to that: That is the lot of women though I’m not a woman. Any close relationship with a man, no matter how innocent, is mis-read. That argument was beneath contempt.
They clawed at anything to get her. At every House session, they deliberately picked on her spoken English. They it was poor but many of them as well were guilty of poor English especially the ones from the Northern part of the country. It was no surprise that finally, they hung an alleged corruption charge on her and they did it in a most devastating manner, achieving maximum effect.
When Etteh travelled abroad as most of them did, the allegation in the press was that she had gone to squander millions of Naira on an owambe party in the US but the first lady of the country travelled to only God knows where for about seven months with the tax payers’ money and we gave her a red carpet welcome.
Then they went a step further. They alleged that she had approved and given out the sum of N628 million for the refurbishment and furnishing of her official residence and that of her deputy. The public screamed the more.
All her explanations and denials were in vain. The public began to demand for her resignation, or impeachment. Some women groups dubbed her a shame to womanhood. The House was divided into two-pro and anti- Etteh. Obviously the anti-Etteh members were more in number. The climax was the day the two groups engaged each other in a shameful brawl in the chambers. It even culminated in the death of the Honourable Ibrahim Safana, an Etteh sympathizer.
The truth: Etteh was not corrupt. She didn’t steal. She did nothing that had not been done ten times over by the Bankole administration not to talk of the present House. If asked I would say it again that Etteh’s sins were her gender and religion. Some Muslims in the House scandalized that a woman was their leader because to them it was an abomination. Using the N628 million issues as a camouflage, Etteh was done in.
But then, over three years down the road, the House members led by Bankole gave her a clean bill. They said they maligned her for nothing. The clear bill started when she challenged them to show where she misappropriated a kobo belonging to the House. Failing to do that, she told them, “clear me”. They did, with an apology. So, we clap. Not so soon. The present House is even worse as corruption cases run in millions of dollars. Life!
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