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OKEDIRAN ROUNDS OFF SENATORIAL CAMPAIGN WITH READING

By NBF News
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Given the encouraging turnout at the Breakfast Reading on Tenants of the House last Saturday at Debonair Bookstore, Yaba, Lagos, having a writer in the Senate would send the Nigerian literary community on cloud nine. That would be a repeat of the elixir elicited by Wale Okediran entry into the House of Assembly during the last democratic dispensation.

The last leg of Hon. Okediran's campaign for the Oyo North Senatorial District ended surprisingly in Lagos, as the former ANA President showed another snippet of the prose side of his life as Nigerian general election gets underway.

Tenants of the House is a satire on the dubious lives of Nigerian lawmakers, who, rather than concentrate on the process of lawmaking and nation building, are busy in self-gratification. The book is also an indictment on the executive arm of the government for its corrupt practices, as well as the dangers posed by traditional shibboleths on the marriage institution.

The medical doctor-writer said it wasn't his intention to write the book the way it came out, but, as a writer, the unusual going-on in the House became an experimental basis for his creative project.

'When I went to the National Assembly, I didn't go there to write a book, but there were so much happenings going on around me, and I decided to keep diary of events there,' he said.

Attended by writers, fans and political associates, the writer said excerpts from the book. At the end of the reading, there was an interactive session between the writer and the audience. Responding to questions on why Tenants of the House has an indeterminate ending, Okediran said a writer's responsibility stops at the point of presenting problems as they were, rather than outlining solutions to them, adding that, by so doing, the writer challenges the audience to draw conclusions.

The idea behind the book, said the writer, 'is to excite readers and let them know what is happening in the political world,' just as he said that he didn't write the book with didacticism in mind and he was careful to conceal the names of some characters in the book in order not to be sued.

In response to an enquiry on the reaction of his political colleagues after the book came out, he said while some of them liked it, some felt bad that he was washing their dirty linen in public. He, however, said part of the reason political office holders engage in lucre is because of the degree of pressure on them from their constituencies.

Okediran further explained that some of the female characters in the book did not deliberately become antagonistic, but might have done so due to the challenges they encounter in the struggles in the House. The choice of strong female characters in the book, he said, was informed by the fact that, unlike men characters, females are not predictable.

He encourage stakeholders to make available English and literature textbooks to students to improve their reading habit, especially now that it has become the norm among our youths to watching home videos and English Premiership matches on TV.

Unlike in the southern part of the country, where writing in indigenous language has not been encouraging, the senatorial aspirant said, in the North, the Kano market literature in Hausa language had been booming, making books available at affordable prices to readers.

Speaking on the factual content of the book, he said most of the events are real, though the names of the characters are fictitious. He encouraged aspiring writers to join book clubs and literary associations in the country. 'You may not get much financially from writing, but you can get fame,' he said.

Many believe that it is this fame that has taken him this far and could be the joker as he heads to the polls. Who know, there could be a novel on Tenants of the Senate this time.