BY SANUSI MUHAMMAD
History was made penultimate Tuesday right in the Green Chamber of the Federal House of Representatives. It was a day that political hawks and merchants were defeated and consigned to the dustbin of history. It was a day the progressive minded of the Honorable Members rallied round their best for the exalted position of Speakership. It was a day the people of Nigeria were introduced to a brand new political system of courage, statesmanship and patriotism. It was a day an Honorable Member from Kano state proved his love for democracy to nominate Honorable Yakubu, an illustrious son of Bauchi state, for the position of Honorable Speaker. It was a triumph of patriotism.
Although the ruling party, APC, was against the arrangement, but that was an error it consciously committed against itself. It had enough time to plan but it failed to do so until the wee hour came. Few leaders of the party were insincere and determined to load their interest on the rest against the dictates of modern democracy.
The free and fair election conducted in a charged atmosphere might have taught APC a lesson (i.e. to put its house in order at this stage) or else, 2019 may not be a pleasant year for it.
Having played the game according to the rules, Honorable Yakubu Dogara emerged victorious in the keenly contested election by defeating his opponent, Honorable Femi Hakeem Gbajabiamila, former minority leader in the 7th Assembly.
The election started at 12.33pm after the Clerk to the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, announced that President Buhari had transmitted a letter to him proclaiming the inauguration of the 8th National Assembly. He then directed the Clerk of the Honorable House to call for nomination.
Yakubu Dogara was first to be nominated by a democrat, Honorable Abdulmumin Jibrin from Kano State and was seconded by Dike Okafor from Imo State. In nominating Dogara, Abdulmumini said, “It is with pride, honour and privilege that we ask, request and even demand that you, Honorable Yakubu Dogara, in spite of the personal consequences, do accept the nomination as the Speaker of the 8th House of Representatives, so I move”.
One Dr. Muhammed Sani Abdu, representing Alkaleri/Kirfi Federal Constituency of Bauchi State, nominated Femi Gbajabiamila, while Philip Shu’aibu from Edo State seconded the nomination. Announcing the result, Maikasuwa said Dogara polled 182 votes to beat his opponent who scored 174 votes. Two of the votes were voided. Altogether, 358 members participated in the election.
Addressing the crowd after his victory, Honorable Dogara described his emergence as an assertion of the independence of the legislature.
He opined that the legislature has run out of excuses to deliver dividends of democracy to Nigerians.
“What was demonstrated is the resolve of Honorable Members of the House to assert the independence of the legislature as a co-equal arm of government.
“My dear colleagues, by electing me as Speaker you have demonstrated to the world that our legislature is living up to the dreams and aspirations of our founding fathers.
“You are leaving a legacy of an accountable, autonomous, focused, progressive and united House capable of playing its role as the stabilizing force in our polity. We have shown once again that this is a House of the Nigerian people.
“After 16 years of unbroken experiment in Constitutional democracy, it is right to say that the Nigerian legislature has come of age. The House continues to remain the repository of the democratic hopes and ambitions of our people. This is a truly representative Chamber that can be relied upon to rise to the occasion when duty calls.
“It should be noted that we are heirs to a long tradition of a House where debates are robustly undertaken, where radicalism flows as an institutional prerogative. We continue to be bulwark for the defence of the rights and privileges of the “common man”. We shall continue to champion the rights of the weak and poor. We shall continue to be the anchor for the wellbeing of our people.
“After the, euphoria of today comes the difficulties of tomorrow. We take office at a period in our history when the morale of our people is at its lowest ebb. We take office when our economy is in shambles, when the living conditions of Nigerians are in poor shape, when infrastructures are nonexistent or at best decayed. Our people are no longer safe in their homes. We are faced with a debt crisis once again.
“We are in a period of great social and political malaise. Provision of basic necessities of life for our people is becoming increasingly difficult. Long fuel lines, high cost of living, and epileptic electricity supply, or in most instances complete darkness, have become the order of the day.
“The health needs of the majority of our people are not being met. Extreme poverty still envelops a large percentage of our population. For too long, Nigerians have suffered degradation and neglect. The list is endless.
“It will be unfair to say that efforts have not been made by our past leaders to solve all these problems. Quite to the contrary, a lot of progress has been made in many fields. But it appears as if we have not done enough, as the problems still remain.
“We are poised to use our new office to wage a mortal combat with the cancer of corruption, incompetence, insecurity, bad governance and infrastructural decay. We shall wage an unrelenting legislative war on insecurity, unemployment, poverty, lack of power supply, educational inadequacies, health problems and social decay.
“We hope that our best will be good enough. I pledge to you my colleagues and Nigerians that we will play our part in this new opportunity offered us by Nigerians to recover our nation from the clutches of hunger, poverty, disease and social, economic, political and infrastructural quagmire.
“It is now our responsibility to fashion out the legislative instruments that will lead to Nigeria’s renaissance. Let the word go forth from here that it shall not be legislative business as usual again in Nigeria.
“We, as a parliament can only justify the confidence of our people by keeping faith with our duties of Law-making, Representation and Oversight of the Executive arm of government. However, in spite of our responsibility for checking and balancing the Executive, good governance can only be effective when all arms of government are working in harmony and partnership to bring about the CHANGES voted for by Nigerians on March 28, 2015.
“We shall cooperate and work harmoniously with the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to deliver on the mandate given to us by Nigerians”, he said.
Honorable Dogara unveiled a legislative programme of action and a legislative compass to guide his actions in office in the document.
“We further pledge that the 8th House of Representatives will concentrate on legislation that will bring the changes required and voted for by Nigerians. We also propose to introduce Sectorial debates on various aspects of the Nigerian economy. This proposal envisages that the House will designate specific legislative sitting days or weeks in its calendar specifically for discussion on various problems facing the nation.
“Such identified themes, sectors, areas or problems include – Unemployment, Health, Education and Social Services, Power/Energy Sector, Oil and Gas, Science and Technology, Commerce and Industry, Transportation, Telecommunications, Agriculture, Mining, Manufacturing, Diversification of the Economy, Finance, Corruption, Security Matters, Infrastructure, etc.
“We expect that these debates will lead to crafting of new laws or amendments to existing ones, or indeed make recommendations on how to better manage the economy.
“We shall fine-tune this document and present it to the entire House for debate, amendments and adoption as soon as we commence legislative duties”.
Honorable Yakubu Dogara was first voted to represent the people of Bogoro/Dass/Tafawa Balewa in the Federal House of Representatives in 2007. He was re-elected in 2011 and 2015 based on his unquantifiable service to his constituency. He believes that leadership without basic fundamental principles is fruitless, and he pays a special concern to the general welfare of his people (constituents) irrespective of any imaginary difference(s).
Believed to be highly disciplined, detribalized, calculative, intelligent and hardworking, he put in place a lasting machinery serving as a driving force to move his constituency forward and now for Nigeria to benefit. As Nigerians celebrate the historic election which is the first of its kind in the political history of the country, in unison we pray for a better Nigeria under the present dispensation and crop of leaders.
Truly, Nigeria deserves to have the best this time around. The country has suffered enough from inept and clueless leadership for 16 solid years, piloted by greedy bulls on a wild chase of public resources. To succeed conveniently, there MUST be a thorough probe of the immediate past Federal Executive whose stewardship was laced with sharp corrupt practices, theft and human rights abuses. It has to be probed or else, corruption and theft of public resources would remain a part of governance in Nigeria.
Honorable Dogara was born December 26, 1967 and attended Gwarangah elementary primary school in Bauchi state from 1976 – 1982. He had his secondary school at Bauchi Teachers College (BTC) before proceeding to University of Jos for his Bachelor of Law Degree (LL.B Hons) with a second Class Honours, Upper Division.
He was in the Nigeria Law School, Lagos from 1992 -1993 and called to the Bar in 1993 before proceeding to Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland in the United Kingdom for LLM (Masters) Degree in International Commercial Law. Honorable Yakubu Dogara has served in various committees in the Honorable House to include; judiciary, capital market and institutions, customs, foreign affairs and several others.