Ettehs House of Area Boys

Ettehs House of Area Boys


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



The woman has said repeatedly that due process was followed in the award of the contract

for the renovation of her official residence and that of her deputy, Babangida Nguroje.

However, the opposition leaders in the House denied having any knowledge



Etteh’s House of Area Boys

By Hakeem Babalola


It thrills me whenever I watch our lawmakers exchanging blows either in the House of Representatives or in public. The gentlemen and ladies of the Lower House recently turned a supposed House of intellectuals into Boxing Arena. The tournament was the continuation of the hitherto cold war between the pro- and anti-Etteh groups at the State Box. But instead of allowing the star of the match to show her artistry, the spectators decided to enjoy their own five minutes of fame.

The fracas was in Abuja, Thursday September 20, at the sitting of the panel to investigate the #628 million House “re-renovation” dirt involving the Speaker, Patricia Etteh and her deputy, Babangida Nguroje. It was drama, excitement, and machination as lawmakers turned the House into delirium. They sweated, they ran helter-skelter, they tore each other’s clothes. It was a day in which the area boys in them manifested.

I am not a bit disappointed at such show of honourables. Anyone who understands politics would have had the premonition of whatever snowballed into physical fighting between them. Nigerians should realise that #628 million is not small money. Such money could even make a rich man crazy talk less of ragamuffins scrambling for the remnants. It is a confirmation of the caliber of people Nigerians have chosen to “woman” their affairs. So let no one shed crocodile tears. I still maintain that the hullabaloo stems from the fact that some male chauvinists find it hard for a woman to head them. Go figure it out.

I need to confess that I often rejoice at this kind of scenario. I am addicted to watching Nigerian public officials misbehave. I love it when they slap one another instead of deliberating on something profound. It makes me proud of them. It makes me think that, after all, my criticism has basis. It intensifies my argument that most Nigerian public officials do not know what service means. It reminds me that Nigerians themselves are not ready for normalcy since their representatives are their mirror.

Though they call themselves gentlemen and ladies, their behaviour is rude and boorish. The funny thing is that such churlish attitude is expected of them any time any day. That is why there’s no reason for them to be ashamed. Etteh is probably having fun with all this attention focused on her.

“I have no regret over contract,” says Madam Speaker. It is part of the game to remain relevant. Her predecessors enjoyed the same feel. I think it’s the nature of the position. They spend their whole tenure fighting over something—something ostentatious and vague.

The media is not exempt from this madness of purpose. Already the affair has been termed EttehGate. I wonder why it is EttehGate and not something else. And this surprises me more than a male senator slapping his female counterpart. The media should have coined another phrase other than Americanize one. What about EtteHouse or EtteHair. Any phrase could have been better instead of copying America’s Watergate. When shall we start inventing our own thing? When Yar’Adua leaves? When Etteh practices her real profession?

The woman has said repeatedly that due process was followed in the award of the contract for the renovation of her official residence and that of her deputy, Babangida Nguroje. However, the opposition leaders in the House denied having any knowledge of the award of the contract which has become controversial. I believe Etteh because she must be very stupid not to have followed due process. After all, the man who installed her as Speaker followed due process throughout his tenure. So what kind of student is Etteh if she did not follow due process in the contract of this magnitude?

Nigerians should just hold their breath because they ain’t seen nothing yet. There is reason to fight for, and this seems to be what most Nigerians have not grasped. The Reps must fight because they do not get as close to #628 million, which an ordinary hairdresser commands in such a short time. Here is the details of the kick-off. Immediately the referee, David Idoko, invited the Speaker to the ring, there was applause obviously from her fans who had filled up the venue.

Not to be over staged, one Emmanuel Jime representing Benue State and his team started shouting ole, ole (thief, thief). This is an insult too many. Where did these people see thief? Who is the thief? Patricia Etteh, the Speaker of the House? What did she steal? This is slander or libel at the least. I entreat Madam Speaker to sue these madmen who are bent on destroying her hard earned reputation. No one groomed by Obasanjo becomes thief because there’s always honour among thieves.

Besides, fighting among our lawmakers is not news. Some years back a male senator brazenly slapped a female senator. Recently, we were fed with the news that two female lawmakers, Honourables Abike Erewa and Sadatu Sanni, fought in public. So tell me what is honourable in the personality of these representatives! As I said earlier it is simply the nature of the job. When you work too much, there is the possibility to be stressed up, thereby making one crazy about little things – especially dough.

Nigerians just like to make a mountain out of molehills. Exchange of blows is part of our lawmakers’ duties. ″There’s nothing strange about the exchange of blows by some members of the panel,″ says Hon. David Idoko, Chairman of the House of Representatives Panel investigating the #628 million contract scam.

I don’t remember who among those eggheads that said Nigerian public officials must be forced (I would rather use encouraged) to undergo psychiatric tests. I would add that background criminal check should also be included.

And that any would-be lawmaker should be made to testify before the oath saying, “I Hon so…so…has never been an area boy/girl in my life and I shall not become one after assuming the exalted office. I shall not disrupt the House or call any member of the House a thief because I believe we are all one. I shall maintain esprit de corps. I shall fight only if they by-pass or cheat me in the allocation or award of contract. May the Almighty whom I worship everyday help me shun corruption and stealing and jagidijagan”.

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Note: The term “Area Boys” means thugs in local parlance. Etteh is Nigerian Speaker of the House of Representatives who is being investigated over 5 million dollars contract scam. At the sitting of the investigation, her fans applauded while the opposition booed. The result is fracas in the House.

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Nigeria: Patricia Etteh Quits Lower House Tuesday, October 30, 2007—Madam Patricia Etteh, the first female Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, resigned Tuesday, following her indictment over the misappropriation of public funds in multiple contracts of N628m (US$5 million) for the renovation of her official residence and the purchase of 12 official cars. The Representatives had exchanged blows as they fought over the case and Dr. Aminu Safana, the House Committee Chairman on Health, slumped during the pandemonium. He was rushed to National Hospital in Abuja where he died shortly after and the Speaker was accused of causing his sudden death. She ignored and dismissed calls for her resignation until Tuesday. Nigerian Times

Hakeem Babalola is currently teaching English Communication in Budapest, Hungary. He loves writing, a vehicle by which he rides to relieve himself of certain emotions. His articles have appeared in Nigerian newspapers including Nigerian Tribune, Daily Champion, Vanguard, Daily Trust respectively. He is also a contributor to several online magazines like,, voiceofnigerians and a host of others. Hakeem is a member of Association of Hungarian Journalists.

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posted 26 September 2007




Home Transitional Writings on Africa   The African World

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