Dimeji Sabur Bankole, the star boy of 2007. Ceremoniously taking over from Patricia Etteh as the 9th Speaker of the House of Representatives in November 2007. He was and he remains the youngest to have achieved this feat at only 37 years. #NotTooYoungToRun
Before then, he’d already been a member of the House of Representatives for a term of 4 years which began in 2003. And before then, he’d spent his career as a businessman serving as director of several companies.
It wasn’t just the fact that he was a young achiever that endeared Nigerians to him during his time as Speaker. It was also the circumstances that led to his election on the 30th of October 2007 after his predecessor, Mrs. Patricia Eteh had be disgracefully removed on the allegations of misappropriation of funds. Thus, Mr. Bankole became the beautiful face of a better era in the lower chamber.
His inaugural speech, “We Stand on the Threshold of History” will still be as relevant today as it was that afternoon in November 2007 when he was just elected. If only we’d find the right voice to speak them :
“The events of the last few months have certainly brought to ourselves and our nation mixed feelings. We recall the great expectations of our people with the inauguration of this noble House some five months ago, and hereby promise to rekindle those hopes by rising above and across the creases that followed in the aftermath of the unfortunate events from which we are presently emerging. There is no gainsaying therefore, that we have been elected to leadership at a most trying time. A period when the need to restore public confidence, set the agenda and machinery for legislative business, evolve best practices for public procurement, ensure judicious use of public funds, entrench transparency and accountability.”
And he did come through. The termination of padded projects, the passing of the Freedom of Information Bill and suspension of fighting members of the House are only a few of his achievements. Dimeji Bankole was already bringing Buhari’s promises to fruition before we elected him. During his tenure, in performance of its oversight, the House ensured that Federal Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDA’s) returned funds budgeted to them but that were unspent. These funds ran into almost N1trillion. This was the first time such a feat would be achieved.
Like many other Nigerian politicians though, Mr. Bankole managed to leave a bitter taste in the mouths of Nigerians when he acquired a loan of about N10billion to increase the already ridiculously high salaries members of the House received.
Justice Suleiman Belgore later acquitted him stating that acquisition of loans (and he admitted that Dimeji’s was done in bad taste) did not amount to “illegal procurement” – something the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission claimed in their charge against him but this definitely did nothing to keep him in the good graces of many Nigerians –just weeks after the end of his tenure.
After this major trial, not much has been heard of the former Speaker who turned 46 on the 14th of November this year apart from the fact that he’s been leading the West African Aluminium Products Limited, PLC. He has also been very involved in academics in Nigeria. Earlier this month, it was announced that he’d be joining dignitaries like former president, Olusegun Obasanjo to plant about 300 hundred trees around the D.S Adegbenro Polytechnic campus in commemoration of the school’s 10th anniversary.
Actually he’s been attending a few of such events because in October, he was reported to have delivered an address kicking against low cut-off points for admissions into Colleges of Education in the country at the Year 2016 Registry Day of the Federal College of Education, Osiele, Abeokuta.
Since January 2016, he’s been a user of the micro-blogging site, Twitter, where he regularly posts (short) opinion on national issues -especially those pertaining to football, the economy or defence.
In 2014, Dimeji Bankole and his wife lost a daughter, Yewande to sickle cell disease. She was only six when they lost her and so Mr. Bankole and his wife have also been directing their energies towards helping other families going through similar situations.
Whether or not Dimeji Bankole will return to active politics remains unclear but we know that he’s a super football fan and an avid polo player. Dimeji Bankole has been a member of the Lagos Polo Club and the Brigade of Guards Polo Club, Abuja so that’s another place he could be.
Creative mind. Enthusiast. Learner. Multipotentialite. And here, an assistant editor.