The mild drama that happened on the floor of the House of Representatives on Tuesday between the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, and member representing Ikeja Federal Constituency, Lagos State, James Faleke, readily brings to mind the African Proverb on the foolish rat, the lizard and the rain.
To better put the proverb into perspective, here is what happened: Ngige had been invited by the lawmakers over the illegal suspension of the management of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund. The minister had accused the management of misappropriating N48bn. While being questioned by the committee, Ngige queried Faleke’s age, saying he was on the same level with the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
He noted that aside from being age mates with the former Lagos governor, they both had the same political achievements.
“Faleke, they said, is up to 60. You are near my age, but I am at least seven years older than you. I’m sure. I am of the same age with your mentor in Lagos, Asiwaju. I was governor with him at the same time. He was a senator, and I was a senator. I am a two-time minister and he was a minister,” he said, rather impishly.
The lawmaker, in an apparent reference to the controversies that trailed Ngige’s election as governor of Anambra State, retorted that Tinubu won his own election “very well.” The minister then reminded Faleke, who was a former deputy governorship candidate of the APC in Kogi State, how his struggle to replace the governorship candidate of the party, Abubakar Audu, was frustrated after the latter died shortly after they both won the election.
“Mr Minister, please respond,” Faleke fired back.
“I am responding. You yab me, I will yab you 10 times. I am a Lagos boy. You are just a small boy in Lagos. Look at this boy. Mushin boy is talking to a VI boy. I live in Victoria Island,” Ngige said.
Quite apparently, Ngige had in a misguided show of arrogance, ignorantly compared himself to the Jagaban of Lagos, two-time political gladiator of Nigeria’s foremost state with a population and an economy that surpasses many countries in the world! Ngige’s actions can best be described as that of a foolish rat that copies the lizard by going out in the rain!
By no means is a rat a lizard and Ngige has very little or absolutely no reason to compare himself to Ahmed Asiwaju Tinubu. For one, there was absolutely no need for Ngige, to involve Tinubu’s name in his exchange with Hon. Faleke. This has diminished his person by showing just how low he can go to argue with a supposed equal’s ‘mentee.’ For another, it showed his level of envy and bitterness against the progress of his age mate, Tinubu.
This has also portrayed the Minister as an ingrate, having benefitted immensely from the Jagaban during his political struggles in Anambra. One just needs to look up the internet to see a very subservient Ngige ‘lapping’ support from the Jagaban way back in 2011.
Perhaps, our dear Minister, unlike other government officials who will faint or claim one illness or the other, will rather resort to argumentum adhomen, attacking the person of Falake and Asiwaju rather than attacking the issue at hand. But then, I do have a few rhetorical questions of my own for to our dear Minister, completely separate from Faleke’s.
Dear Ngige, you were both senators: were you Senator in the same republic? You were both governors, did you make the same impact in your respective states and on the people? You were quick to call yourself a Lagos boy, why are you not that proud of your state and build a VI for yourself there?
Asiwaju was never a minister like you mentioned because he believes in allowing others to grow, unlike you who want to take everything that comes to Anambra to yourself. You can call the Jagaban different names but what we can collectively agree on, is his selflessness, sacrifices, and the mindset of giving others platform to explore and grow, that is why his hold on the South-West and influence at the centre is never in doubt.
A foolish rat copies a lizard and goes out in the rain.
You agreed he mentored Faleke just like many others like you, but how many people have you mentored in Igbo land? Some of you are opportunists who quickly forget how you got to where you are, you are quick to be ungrateful, just like you did to your brother Chris Ubah. But occasions like this would always remind you of your sordid acts.
Or, is it not a shame to you, Ngige, that despite your political resume, you were standing before a political mentee of Asiwaju to give an account of how you are managing your ministry? Is it not a shame to you that many Asiwaju’s proteges are in the same rank with you even in the current dispensation?
Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, a two-term governor of Lagos State and now a two-term minister is in the same category as you. When the current Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola served as a commissioner in Lagos under Asiwaju, you were governor. Today, Aregbesola who was governor of Osun State for solid eight years is now a minister in the same capacity as you. The vice president of the federation, who is a boss to you served under Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as Attorney General of Lagos. So, what is the pride about, Dr. Ngige?
A friendly reminder as I close. Honourable Minister, just as the rat in the proverb above has very little or no similarities with the lizard, you also have no basis to be compared with the Jagaban.
Of course, you may both be agemates, party mates, club mates, and the cornucopia of other ‘mates’ you may be, but you are never political mates. He left you off that train long ago. You are not mates based on impact made; that is a worst scope of comparison.
You can never be mates. Perhaps in the next life, that is possible.
But in this one, never!