BOOK REVIEW: Tenants of the House

GENRE: Fiction

AUTHOR: Wale Okediran

REVIEWER: Mohammed Oluwatimileyin Taoheed

‘To kill is a crime: to kill at the right time is politics’ are some of the first words that glued one’s heart to Okediran’s superb novel.

The synopsis of the whole book talks about the nether pose of Nigerian political life.

The protagonist, Hon. Samuel Bakura, is a Barrister before he joins politics to be the Honourable Member representing his constituency in Kaduna, in the Nigeria Lower House of Representatives in Abuja.

Suspense is abundant in the book as the author unravels many events.

The first is about the plans of some members of the house to impeach the Speaker.

They include likes of Hon. Linus Wenike from Bayelsa, Hon. Elizabeth whose father is formerly a die-hard politican himself and others.

We are furnished later that the President himself and his Chief Liason Officer who is ex-Senator Smollet are also the brains behind the Speaker’s impeachment.

Hon. Lizzy introduced Barrister Sam into the factional group and they planned against the Speaker of the House. They stole the Mace of authority…

Without the Mace, nothing can be done in the House again.

When the speaker saw the state of things in deterioration, he visited the protagonist at home and convinced him.

Barrister Sam later joined the group and they were able to bring things back to order though it was something cumbersome.

Not only did they have sleepless nights, troubling thoughts but high strategies.

They mobilised the masses and students of University of Abuja and Nassarawa against the evil legislators and they recorded success at the end of the day.

Lizzy is not gleeful over Samuel’s crossing to the next group and she freely offered her body to woo him back.

Samuel had been trying to have it many a time but she declined.

Unfortunately, it is too late as Hon. Samuel’s mind is made up and resolute.

Samuel had been proposing to her effortlessly before since his wife, Agnes, left her to remarry four years ago.

The book to me is more or less an account rather than a novel if not because of the fact that it is fictional.

A critical look will reveal that most things in it are happening in real life.

It divulged the actions of godfathers in politics and the waywardness of political spies.

It says ‘godfathers ignored merit, they are in it for money’.

It tells also that ‘money is the fertilizer of politics’

As the book runs into climax, the Speaker and the President later reconcile to the extent that the former is ready to help the latter stay longer in power.

Barrister Sam is taken aback and the Speaker tells him that he is surprised because he is naive when it comes to politics as “there are no permanent friends in politics, only permanent interests”.

That’s the reason where ‘in politics, one has to sleep with one eye open’.

Politics is said to be a busy game as the actors do not have time for themselves let alone their families.

Mark, Sam’s only son, does not recognize his father anymore when he visits him in the United Kingdom because it has been so long a time they both set eyes on each other.

Maria, who is his blood sister, consoled him.

The proposal of a bill by Barrister Sam critically has huge effects on his life.

During the course of the bill which is set to end the usual Fulani herdmen and farmers’ clashes is triggered by his old promise to his late father then when he was small that he would be a lawyer to fight again this injustice as the cattle ate their millets then which catapulted his father into great debt.

When he visited Narbodo in Bauchi State, he fell in love with one Fulani Muslim girl called Batejo and they planned their marriage.

While Uncle Tahiri supported this fully, Sister Adams didn’t want such thing.

The reason was that she was too conservative.

She didn’t accord Sam any respect when she came to call Batejo out of the kiosk and she spoke to her rudely, condemning Sam’s religion, occupation and even personality. 

To the sorrow of his mother who was a Deaconess, Sam ‘the loverboy’ converted into Islam and he went ahead to have the traditional Fulani custom of beating a suitor before marriage.

He was beaten by his rival, Gidado whose friends almost killed him.

They beat him to the level that he landed in two different hospitals as a result of their heavy sticks on that ugly day he was caught talking to Batejo under a tree.  

The book continues to reveal all the fruitless efforts of Sam to marry Batejo.

The Legislative House is bent on impeaching the president for ‘gross misconduct’ and he tries all the possible means to retain himself still in power.

His wife supported him with words of encouragement.

On the way, his very own Senator Smollet catapulted him into doom as he was seen and captured unaware as he bribed the legislators.

The book captures in the actual sense the nether level of bribery and politics in Nigeria.

Wale Okediran who is a medical doctor has done a great job here.

Not that the book is written in artistic fashion of a creative writer but it is bedecked with elevated language and a good command of political vocabulary.

Related: BOOK REVIEW: Cry, the Beloved Country

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Mr. Taoheed is a Nigerian Correspondent for The Scholar Media Africa. He is an Investigative Journalist living in the Northeast area of Nigeria. He studies Law at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto State. His contact:


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