By Eddy Odivwri
When in 2015 he failed to clinch the Speakership of the House of Representatives, I felt pained. And so when last June Hon Femi Gbajabiamila eventually got elected as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, I heaved a sigh of relief, believing that it was only now that his time was ripe and that he will make a remarkable difference as the number four citizen of the country.
For me, Hon Gbaja (for short) is a serious-minded politician, one imbued with a determination and capacity for greater national service.
But nine months down the road, Gbaja’s House of Representatives has not had any earth-shaking law for the benefit of the people. Rather, what we have got from his end is first the controversy stirred by him on the 50th birthday of the wife, when he ordered some exotic car to mark the lady’s birthday. Given the huge cost of the car, many thought it was not only a case of being outlandish, others considered it as inexpedient and insensitive.
Yes, it is his money, some will argue, but for a political votary, he must be moderated by expedient considerations.
Early this week, the news broke that Hon Gbaja had sponsored some 300 persons to Dubai for his mother’s 90th birthday bash, claiming that he had used public funds to undertake that splurging.
Although Mr Gbajabiamila has long denied the report claiming it is false, he explained that a party indeed held in Dubai in honour of his mother’s 90th birthday, but that it is was strictly for family members and select friends, stressing that no government fund was used for the splash.
Again, the need for expediency comes up. As the Bible would put it, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are expedient”. That is one thing missing for Mr Speaker. He does not seem to know when it is lawful and when is expedient. For a public office holder to engage in what is clearly a case of splurging, especially in an economy bedraggled with poverty, bespeaks of a leader who is not cautious.
Yes, mama deserves to be celebrated at 90, no doubt. But why in Dubai? There is no place good or prized enough in Nigeria where Mama can be hosted to a befitting birthday party? Is that what Gbaja is saying, or he merely wants to show off the depth of his wealth? He has denied that government funds were not used to sponsor the birthday bash. What is the evidence? After all, what else does Gbajabiamila do, apart from being in government, to earn that kind of money that can be valuelessly blown like that?
Once again, for Gbaja, one thing needful is a lesson or two on the doctrine of expediency.