WHEN Hon. Mohammed Garba Gololo (APC – Bauchi State); Hon. Mark Gbillah (APC – Benue State) and Hon. Samuel Ikon (PDP – Akwa Ibom State), were selected among the House members for the International Visitors Leadership Programme in Cleveland, Ohio, they were expectedly delighted.
Who wouldn’t be? Yes, by their status in the Nigerian society, huge chances are that they would have been to the United States of America once or more times in their lives, and even to other parts of the world. But, this was different: An all-expense paid trip to the US!
After about two weeks of savouring the glitz and glamour of the beautiful country and, of course, immersing themselves in learning and training (the primary purpose of the trip), they returned to Abuja and the Green Chamber, certainly happy to have been part of the wonderful experience in Cleveland. End of story? Not quite.
They also came back with a bagful of trouble, which they didn’t exactly bargain for. Chances are that, if they knew or had any inkling the journey would turn a misadventure, they wouldn’t have thought twice before opting out of the programme. But, man is not God, so can’t tell what lies ahead. How would they have known that the devil lay in wait somewhere in Ohio, waiting to drag them from the top floor of influence to the doorstep of disgrace? Now, they are fighting not to be pulled down. Was it a moment of indiscretion that has led to this hoopla? Are all these a storm in a tea cup? The days and weeks and months ahead will tell.
Anyway, back in the country, the trio are fighting the battle of their lives, to extricate themselves from alleged sex scandal, which they allegedly got entangled in in the course of their American sojourn! Which kind trouble be dis?
While Hon. Gololo is being accused of sexually assaulting, albeit attempting to grab (and rape) a housekeeping staff of the hotel they were lodged in, the other two men, Hons. Gbillah and Ikon, were said to have sought the assistance of hotel staffers to get them prostitutes for the night or many nights (it is not stated).
The man who blew the lid in Nigeria, the United States Ambassador, Mr. James Enwistle, in his strongly worded letter to Speaker Yakubu Dogara, said the lawmakers’ conduct, was unfortunate, shameful and regrettable. What he didn’t add was that, were it not for their status and the fact of their being guests of the US government, they probably would have been arrested and prosecuted for the alleged sexual indiscretion, frowned at by the government. He called on Dogara to order an inquiry into ‘the dishonourable’ conduct of the men.
Media reports have also since suggested that a travel ban and cancellation of the visas of the concerned lawmakers may have been effected by the United States government, to register how seriously it frowns at the ugly saga.
Of course, Gololo, Gbillah and Ikon, have vehemently denied the allegations. They said they were not only seriously embarrassed, they might be heading for the courts to clear their names of the damaging allegations.
They are right to feel embarrassed. They are not the only ones embarrassed. Nigerians too are. Their constituents, friends and families would be. To be linked to such story, even in a country where such things don’t really matter, and blown to the proportion it has would depress anyone in their shoes.
This is my take on the issue: We have to get to the bottom of the matter to find out what really happened. Were they framed as the lawmakers have alleged? If the answer is yes, the next question would be: Why would they be framed? If this had happened in Nigeria, political motives would be easy to read to it. Now, two APC lawmakers and one PDP are involved. That’s why no one has talked much about political detractors since the saga broke.
So, if like the lawmakers claimed that they were falsely accused, then the law courts would be the place to go. I hear they are planning to institute suits in Cleveland, to redeem their soiled image. It would be interesting to see how far the case will go. This is not just about the trio alone. It is the whole National Assembly that is on trial. Let them have the courage to pursue the case to its logical conclusion and let the course of justice be served.
But, if in their hearts, they know they ran foul of the 11th commandment: Thou shall not be caught, the sensible thing will be to quietly stop the grandstanding and apologise to their guest (America), constituents and Nigerians for their indiscretion in a foreign land. Nothing is lost in saying you are sorry if you find you have been cornered. They could even blame it on poor, old devil.
However, to insist on one’s right, when you are wrong and later disgraced, when the truth comes out will be double jeopardy and embarrassment.
The puzzle many are finding hard to fix is: Is it possible for an ambassador of the status of Mr. Enwistle, representing a country like America, to make such hefty allegations without concrete facts? What if there are CCTV recordings of what transpired at the hotel? On what grounds would the lawmakers stand? This is the concern many Nigerians have expressed.
Indeed, since Ambassador Enwistle’s letter on the Ohio episode, the nation has lapped onto the salacious story. Little surprise, though. Sex excites, especially when it happens in high places or when it concerns people in top public positions.
Even though in this instance, sex has not taken place, the mere fact of an accusation and allegation has been enough to drive up the adrenaline of discussions, both serious and the ridiculous. Many emergency morality judges and sex experts have suddenly sprung up, pontificating and examining facts and fictions behind the allegations. Indeed, like all such lurid stories, it has been high on drama, high on sensation and suspense. We all are awaiting what would happen next.
Of course, like in subject matters of this nature, where almost everyone is an expert or appears to be one, every person is entitled to his opinion.
Truly, I feel for the guys involved in this scandal. If the story turns out to be true, it would surely affect their political future in a country where politics has turned quite dirty. Their families could be shaken. Even in a country with not much high premium on morality, it still doesn’t sound good in the ears to be told that your spouse or dad solicited assistance to get prostitutes, even though many top level Nigerians cutting across professions and tribes would have engaged their services at one time or another. Here, hypocrisy is the name of the game. It is the man who is caught that is the thief. That’s the way things are here.
But, there is the good side to the Cleveland saga: Now, some of those randy lawmakers, governors and other top level public officers would watch it before engaging in the revelry of spoilt brats, when they travel out of this shores. Even at home, we hear of wild parties and drunken outings, where young campus ladies are debased for some filthy lucre. The time of reckoning is fast approaching for such depraved government officials, feasting on the poverty in the land.
Fundamentally, we must get to the level where young girls and women will not be viewed primarily as sex objects and playthings. We must begin a value-orientation in our country. It’s a duty we owe the fatherland.