PROJECT TOPICS AND MATERIALS ON THE POST INDEPENDENT NIGERIAN POLITICIAN IN WALE OKEDIRANS TENANTS OF THE HOUSE
This essay is on the
post-independence Nigerian politician in Wale Okediran’s Tenants of the
House. The study examines the corrupt nature of Nigerian politics. The
book itself is a skillful delineation of the ugly colors of Nigerian
politics with its seeming intrigues, base motives, ‘win at all costs
motive’ and money as the great leverage. It also has its rich mix of
love and politics.
Once upon a time, there was a region in the
amalgamated units called Nigeria which has the largest land mass,
contributed greatly to the national pool, had fair share of commerce and
industrial activities and above all called the shots in the art of
power and leadership. This region had produced nine out of the fourteen
(14) heads of government so far who had ruled for greater part of the
country’s fifty one (52) years of self government. The region also
produced uncountable numbers of ministers and retinue of other
influential citizens who drew their power from diverse sources. As the
nation celebrates thirteen (14) years of uninterrupted democracy to day,
one huge question is to be asked ‘What have the leaders so far done
with political powers?’
African literature not Nigerian has had a
long tradition of political satirization perhaps owing to experiences
of dictatorship, nepotism and such other vices inherent in the
leadership of various African countries. This explains the theory of
writing as socio responsibility. Thus, from anti-colonial struggle to
the vicious neo-colonialism we have had writers that pursued this course
with uncommon virtuosity, it is within this context that one situates
Wale Okediran’s Tenants of the House.
In Tenants of the House,
Wale Okediran presents a vivid picture, a critique, even if not an
expose of contemporary Nigerian politics. Though the setting of the 306
page novel is the Nigeria’s lower chamber of the National Assembly; the
House of Representative, it dramatizes the polity with coverage and
artistic bravura. Indeed, the first person narration endears readers to
the book and gives chance for details.
Fortunately, both the
writer and the narrator were members of the House (insiders) hence the
excellent account. Tenants of the House is not all about politics as it
embedded equally powerful themes, notable among them is the theme of
The novel always has the potential to stir up controversies
as it gives a unique insight into the politicking, corruption,
intrigues, scheming, betrayal and political horse-trading that has been
the hallmark of Nigeria’s legislature since 1999. What many Nigerians
have only previously speculated about has been revealed by an insider.
It is a haunting portrait, with a strong ring of familiarity and
topicality, that I find most instructive, the realism of the narrative, a
strong indication of how little progress has been made in Africa’s
development process. The point has been made and nauseam that a critical
causative factor in Nigeria’s development, is the failure of the
leadership elite; their graft and greed, lack of enlightenment, and
viciousness, made worse by their alienation from the reality and the
people they are supposed to lead.
In Okediran’s most recent
novel, we are introduced to a terribly disoriented society, where there
is much conflict between rhetoric and action, appearance and reality,
individual and society, and this is reproduced not only among the
political elite but also at all strata of the society. The book
presents, withy gripping suspense a shrill voice of a nation in urgent
need of political renewal and rebirth.
1.1 LIFE AND WORKS OF THE AUTHOR
Okediran was born in April 1955 in Oyo State Nigeria. He qualified as a
medical doctor from the Obafemi Awolowo University in 1980. He had
worked in government and private hospitals for several years before he
went into private practice until 1999 when he went into politics and was
appointed Chairman, Oyo State Hospital’s Management Board.
later contested for a seat in the Federal House of Representatives,
where he represented his constituency, from 2005 to 2007. Wale Okediran
is well known for his essays, short stories and novels which are deeply
rooted in the contemporary Nigerian society in which he lives.
1990, his poem “Call to Worship,” won a book prize for the American
poetry contest while his novel, The Boys at the Border was shortlisted
for the 1991 commonwealth literature prize. Indeed most of his works
have been shortlisted for awards or are actually award winners. His
novel The Rescue of Uncle Babs, won the 1998 ANA Prize for children’s
literature while Dreams Die at Twilight, was adjudged for the NLNG,
Nigerian Literature Prize in 2004.
In the same year, Dreams Die
at Twilight was one of the 25th best books of the last 25 years in
Nigeria by Spectrum Books Limited.
In 2005, Strange Encounters
won the ANA Fiction prize while The Weaving Looms, was shortlisted to
the 2008 Wole Soyinka prize for literature in Africa.
who is a medical doctor, served as a member of the Federal House of
Representatives, Abuja, Nigeria between 2003 to 2007, he was also the
National President of the Association of Nigerian authors from 05 to
1.2 SYNOPSIS OF THE NOVEL
Tenants of the House is a
skillful delineation of the ugly colors of Nigerian politics with its
seeming intrigues, base motives, ‘win at all-cost’ motivations and money
as the great leverage with its rich mix of love and politics. The novel
centers on the plot to oust the speaker of the House of Representatives
as seen through the eyes of Honorable Samuel, the narrator. The move
was initiated by the p residency and Honorable Samuel, hitherto an
inconsequential member in the House, was propelled to the forefront of
dubious politicians with dubious intents, moving him a key figure in the
battle for the leadership of the house.
As the story unfolds,
the narrator reveals the motivations behind the unpredictable flow of
events in the legislative largely shaped by `fertilizer’ (bribes)
offered to legislators. The extent to which corruption dictates the fate
of a country is summarized by one of the honorablses, Moses Adeyi, who
“Who will stand up for anything
except his stomach, all people
want is money to eat”.
is this desperate avarice that leads to the intrigues daily played out
in the hallowed chambers of the house that revolve around late night
meetings, prostitutional shift of allegiances, driven revelries,
blackmails, conspiracies, betrayal and spy work. All of these are part
of legislative work that Nigerians are not privy to. We are also exposed
to some of the tricks employed by legislators to truncate the
functioning of the house, like curing off power supply, sabotaging the
air conditioning and short circuiting the microphones. One would be
surprised how dubious our lawmakers are.
Okediran also gives us a
fictionalized insight into the battle for the third term bid how the
greedy legislators so dramatically demonized in the impeachment saga,
came together in a union of very strange bed fellows, to shoot down the
dastardly tenure elongation bid of a very theatrical president. ‘Oneya’.
In disregarding the rules of narration Okediran, who alternates between
the first person and omniscient narratives goes behind the scene to
report events that shed more lights on the overall plot. While some may
see this as a plus, conservatives may consider it a flagrant violation
of narrative rules, but there is no denying this approach helped in the
wholesomeness of the study.
The novel apart form being an expose
on some subtle issues in the House, like cultism and drug use among
legislators the novel has a mix of memorable characters like Hon. Lizzy
Bello, the gun-carrying belle of the house how carries pistol in her
purse and is in the thick of every plot, for the good or the bad. There
is also the small senator smollet, the president’s dog on a leash and go
between, not to mention president Oneya and others, whom Okediran
assembled to move his plot forward with much drama and theatrics.
1.3 REVIEW OF RELATED CRITICISM
spirit of struggle against unjust social systems like slavery,
colonialism, racism, capitalism and imperialism is neither new or
peculiar to Africa, and different people of the world at different times
have had to resist forms of oppression sometimes successfully without
Writers, because they constitute a sensitive
part of the society may more than others feel the oppression around them
although they may not have the best imaginative responses to political
analysis and activities but they still contribute their own quota
through their write ups.
Okediran Tenants of the House has also been analysed by different authorities but only a few would be cited here.
Abubakar Adam Ibrahim in an online article sees the book as
competition of political intrigue treated with a huge dose of thirty
veiled fiction documenting occurrences in Nigeria’s lower legislative
This is a fact as the author who is also a fictional
character in the novel recounts his ordeals as a tenant in the House of
Reuben Abati views Okediran’s latest novel in an article as
“a fictional account of some of the highlights of that season in Nigeria’s fourth republic.”
admits that much in the end what the author offers is an artistic
portrayal of the enduring challenge of leadership not just in Nigeria’s
tottering political space but in Africa.
Abati’s view is correct
because the Nigerian politicians who was depicted as a hero, fighting
for independence in anti-colonial Nigerian literature, is now portrayed
in post-independence Nigerian literature as a corrupt individual,
intolerant of opposition and dissent, a criminal, a monster dictator and
a vain fool.
Lanre Ogundimu in an online article where his views were properly expressed comments on the book as one:
of political satire, innuendo, intrigue and dubious characters, the
author, Wale Okediran, uses his inside knowledge and experience as one
term congressman in Nigeria’s Federal House of Representatives to
skillfully tell an interesting fictional story. The book exposes the
political class and the back stabbing and selfish interest in the
lawmaking chamber and the country.”
In addition to this, I would
say that this novel offers a quintessential portrait of the brutal and
cannibalistic leadership that Nigeria has had to endure in the past five
Carmen views the novel in an article by “good reads”
published online as she gave her own contribution to Okediran’s novel:
Tenants of the House: “Recent Nigerian history has read like the
melodramatic imaginings of Nollywood, so it is no surprise that the new
novel describing surreal machinations in the Nigerian House of Assembly,
Tenants of the House, by Wale Okediran describes a dizzying. Swirl of
rapidly changing political loyalty. Extravagant sums of money casually
changing hands in brown envelope, politicians whose actions make the
reader waver between disgust and sympathy.”
Carmen’s view is true as the book portrays the societal ills and decadence prevalent in our present society.
Abdulaziz Abdulazid in an online article titled “muse and musings of a young Journalist” views the book in is comment:
of the House has many strong points one of which is obviously
manifested meticulous research conducted by the author. There are many
instances to prove this point: one which is the Fulani culture he deeply
explored the trip to Canterbury and Kampala show case
research/experience of water at his work”.
The novel is indeed
typical of a scholarly work as the text shows enough research which
proves the extent at which author strives to please his readers.
1.4 JUSTIFICATION OF STUDY
independence remains a twentieth century political mirage sought for
but never attained political misrule, dictatorship and corruption have
become the order of the day and the masses are grossly disillusioned by
the activities of the leaders.
This topic is justifiable owing to
the fact this research work has not until now been analyzed to portray
the character trait of Nigerian post-independence politicians in
Okediran’s Tenants of the House.
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Once upon a time, there was a region in the amalgamated units called Nigeria which has the largest land mass, contributed greatly to the national pool, had fair share of commerce and industrial activities and above all called the shots in the art of power and leadership. This region had produced nine out of the fourteen (14) heads of government so far who had ruled for greater part of the country’s fifty one (52) years of self government. The region also produced uncountable numbers of ministers and retinue of other influential citizens who drew their power from diverse sources. As the nation celebrates thirteen (14) years of uninterrupted democracy to day, one huge question is to be asked ‘What have the leaders so far done with political powers?’.. english education project topics
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