Gbajabiamila’s Dubai birthday bash
Despite the denial of a report that he sponsored 300 guests with public funds to mark his mother’s 90thbirthday in Dubai, in United Arabs Emirate (UAE) the mere fact that the Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, left the shores of Nigeria to stage an expensive and exquisite birthday party offends public sensibility.
Coming at a time when majority of Nigerians are hard pressed by the bleak social and economic predicament in the country, the act is indeed an avoidable insult. The Speaker and his co-travellers are basking in obscenity in austere times without caring a hoot about public morality. It is senseless and ridiculous that the Speaker could not anticipate public mood and perception at this time.
Gbajabiamila had in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, said only family members and close friends attended the celebration.
The statement read, “The story carried by SaharaReporters on Monday, March 2, 2020, alleging that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, used public funds to take 300 guests to Dubai for his mother’s birthday is categorically false.”
“The Speaker, his family and a few friends were in Dubai to celebrate the 90th birthday anniversary of Alhaja Lateefat Olufunke Gbajabiamila, the Speaker’s mother.”
“For the records, this event was strictly for family members and a few childhood friends, for which no public funds were appropriated or expended. Indeed, not a single politician or a legislator was present at the event.”
The report had alleged that the “fanfare and lavish celebration” to mark the woman’s birthday was expected to run from March 2 to 10 in the glittering Arab city.
The report included the fact that Gbajabiamila could be spending “well over N500 million” on the celebration, “going by the calibre of guests that would be gracing the occasion.” These are not good facts about Nigeria’s public officers at this time that we are the poverty capital of the world.
Without mincing words, Gbajabiamila’s conduct gives credence to the wide perception that the country is not working, otherwise, why is it that the Speaker could not find one good location in the entire country where he could celebrate his mother’s birthday.
We need tourism in Nigeria. There are notable tourist attractions in different parts of Nigeria, which people like Gbajabiamila could promote using occasion such as mother’s birthday.
Going out of the country for something that could be done locally is a disservice to the country. All the money that could have been expended to boost our economy and enhance employment is carelessly spent in another country. It is apparent from the sordid event that what we are dealing with are small minds in high places. We are dealing with people who have no value for the country. All that they know is to milk the country and leave it forlorn. These people diminish Nigeria with reckless abandon.
It is also sad that offshore celebrations are becoming a competition of some sort among the power elite. While a private citizen, who chooses to indulge in the unbecoming culture, may be excused, for a government official, who ought to represent people’s cherished values, it is immoral.
Dubai, which privileged Nigerians are rushing to was built by people. Rather, than use their privileged position to develop and make Nigeria work, our political elite prefer to own houses in Dubai and celebrate expensive parties there. This is worrisome and condemnable. It is unfortunate that political parties that should be watchdogs over their products in office have been quite about all these obscenities.
This is why this kind of story cannot be swept under the carpet: Nigeria’s Speaker of the House of Representatives, the country’s Number Four citizen should have checked the prevailing conditions around him before embarking on this reproach. It is also curious that he didn’t chose to be a rile model at this time. This newspaper had last week decried absence of role models in this country. We expect exemplary behaviour from him. It is adult delinquency for political elite to be staging extravagant birthday and wedding parties in Dubai and elsewhere. The message being passed to the world is that we are a people that have no value for our own.
How many times have we spotted foreign public officials marking birthdays here? Hardly would a Speaker of a foreign parliament descend so low to denigrate their country this way. It is also unfortunate that our Speaker could not see reason to learn a lesson from our recent comment on a governor who gave out his daughter in Mauritius recently. We condemned the act as quite unbecoming of a Nigeria’s public officer. Our public officers should note that their explanation that they use their private fund to organise these obscenities is not acceptable. While in office, they are our brand ambassadors. So, we expect them to represent us the way they want others to respect us, as the leader of the black race.