Friday, April 18, 2014

Gratuity, father’s investments keep Dimeji Bankole going

Published:

Dimeji Bankole lives a life of luxury.

Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, who was embroiled in a multibillion dollar corruption scandal as he left office last year, retired to the luxury of government-paid life benefits for spending barely three years as speaker of the lower house.

Mr. Bankole, like past speakers and deputies, senate presidents and deputies, as well as presidents and vice-presidents, is entitled to the privileges and life benefits of a former speaker even if he was in office for just one day, provided the official completes his or her term un-impeached.

A contentious provision that has drawn criticisms in the past, opponents say these benefits are part of an elaborate, elitist, provision that rewards the powerful in uneven ways.

The former speaker and his former deputy, Usman Nafada, were in February cleared by the court of corruption charges brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. The EFCC appealed the decision, seeking a retrial.

PREMIUM TIMES sought an assessment of the former speaker’s after-office life, after a tumultuous three years at the House during which he constantly made the headlines.

Mr. Bankole, 42, lives more in Abuja than his hometown, Abeokuta.

He owns at least two houses in Abuja, having bought the former residence meant for Speakers of the House, and adding it to an earlier one he bought as a member of the House of Representatives during the monetization policy of the Obasanjo administration. He is said to be a shareholder in his father’s string of businesses, where he draws extra benefits added to his gratuity as speaker.

“No business is linked to him that I know of for now,” an associate said.

Mr. Bankole, who once nursed a governorship ambition, now fills his schedule with the Pan African Parliament, which has its headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa.

As speaker, Mr. Bankole was an automatic member of the organization and successfully sponsored a serving House member, Bethel Amadi, as the group’s first Vice-President, colleagues say.

The group’s constitution thrusts the first Vice-President into the presidency when vacancy exists; a position Mr. Amadi now holds, the former president having completed his term.

With the rise of Mr. Amadi, who heads the House committee on National Planning and Economic Development, Mr. Bankole continues to receive kind gestures, associates say.

The former speaker plays polo regularly, a sports game that he cherishes with passion.

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