The race for the speaker of the House of Representatives is still very hot. In this piece, VINCENT OHONBA examines how the people of North-East Nigeria are battling to endure that their candidate for the speakership, YAKUBU DOGARA, wins
Activities leading to the election of the leadership of the 8th National Assembly are as intriguing as the 2015 electioneering and the elections in general. This is so due to the emergence of new legislators into the Red and Green Chambers of the National Assembly, NASS, to serve as Senators and Members of the House of Representatives, respectively.
No sooner had the election results been announced that members-elect, mostly old timers, begun to reach out to their colleagues seeking support and cooperation on election as leaders in both chambers of the NASS. There have been many aspirants for the position of the Speaker of the House of Representatives across different geo-political zones, except the North-West and the North-Central.
While the Nation awaits the final outcome of the All Progressives Congress, APC, resolution regarding the zoning of positions, the general feelings regarding the Speakership of the House of Representatives tilts towards the North East. And one man whose name gains more acceptance than others is Barrister Yakubu Dogara, a three-time member representing Bogoro/Dass/Tafawa Balewa Federal Constituency in Bauchi State.
For observers from the region, the position of speakership, apart from it worth giving the zone a chance, the candidate for the position from the area, Dogara, is qualified. First elected in 2007, Dogara chaired the House Committee on Customs Services where he proved a worthy law maker. His progressive principle led to the positive reforms in the Nigerian Customs Service. He is the current chairman, Committee on House Services, a committee which deals with the welfare of members.
After receiving a second mandate in 2011, Dogara, in the eye of his kinsmen and friends, has through mature disposition to issues regarding NASS and the nation at large continued to prove that his worth as a representative. Midway into the tenure, he read the feelings and aspirations of his constituents and defected from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the APC. That is a characteristic of a visionary leader who will read both the mood of the nation and juxtaposed it with the yearnings and aspirations of the people he represents. Dogara, a ranking member with eight years cognate experience in legislative activities has about 22 years experience as a lawyer.
Various individuals and groups have been expressing their supports for the speakership aspiration of Dogara. The first group is the Forum of Members of House of Representatives from the North West Geo-political Region, comprising new and old timers. A member of the forum, Nasiru Baballe Ila, APC, representing Tarauni Federal Constituency of Kano State made this known in a statement in Abuja recently. He said Dogara remained the choice of majority of House members because he is the most qualified person for the speakership position because he possesses the right qualities of a good leader.
According to him, “We in the House believe in consolidation. The leadership of Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has stabilised the House and given it a name. We cannot afford to go back on this and that is why we must ensure that only people of like minds such as Dogara are elected into leadership positions in the 8th Assembly. Electing Dogara as speaker will unite the people of northern Nigeria who are of different ethnic groups and religion. We want to make sure that we go back to the good old days when we coexisted as one people in the north – the days of our forefathers”, he said.
Hon. Ila further stated that “electing a northern Christian will give a sense of belonging to our Christian brethren that we are one people and they too can become anything in a united Nigeria from the north. More than ever before, our people have been divided along ethnic and religious lines. We must correct this. The 2015 elections have demonstrated that we still can bury our differences and work together as one people. For the records, Dogara was among the first set of 37 members who defected to the APC in 2013, even though his governor was in Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and his constituency was a PDP stronghold and at the risk of losing his seat”.
In a similar move, the North-Central caucus in the House of Representatives, comprising serving and members-elect from the six states of the region and the Federal Capital Territory, on May 6, 2015, endorsed the candidature of Dogara for the speakership.
Their position is hinged on Dogara’s selfless service and the need to consolidate on the gains of the outgoing 7th Assembly headed by Tambuwal, now Governor of Sokoto State.
The group stated that “We are pleased with his aspiration which is motivated by selfless service, the desire to consolidate on the gains of the 7th Assembly recorded under the leadership of Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal from 2011 to date. We must strive hard to sustain and consolidate on the giant strides made by the Tambuwal leadership and that is why only personalities like Dogara have the capacity to lead the next Assembly.
Dogara’s bid to be elected as the speaker of the House of Representatives also got a boost from Abuja-based youth groups, Nigerian Youth Against Political Sabotage, NYAPS, and the Northeast Unity Forum, NUF, which staged a walk for his candidacy.
The national coordinators of NYAPS, Tony Obuah and Alhaji Mohammed A. Wandi, said the walk was informed by the need to ensure justice and fairness in the distribution of leadership positions in the new government.
Also, Arewa Youths Forum, AYF, led by the chairman of Northern Youth Forum, Auwal Pal, threw its weight behind Dogara. The group addressed journalists in Bauchi, urged the representatives to be careful in choosing the right people that would assist the president in fulfilling his promises to Nigerians irrespective of religious, ethnic and regional differences. According to him, Dogara has proven to be a man of his words, with uncommon integrity, hard work and dedication to his duties over the last eight years in the National Assembly.
Some analysts are of the view that for unity, consolidation of legislative progress, sense of belonging to all groups as well as the need to achieve the laudable goals of the Muhammad Buhari regime and the general development of the country, Dogara is the right choice for the Speakership. However, the final decision lies in the members of the House of Representatives themselves.
Regarding his speakership ambition, Dogara said that “I know that there can’t be ‘change’ if we don’t emphasise the virtues of justice and fairness. As a zone, we don’t have to go cap in hand begging for anything. Our expectation is that the party will on its own look at the plight of our people and say this position should go to the North-east,” he said.
As the nation awaits the inauguration of the 8th National Assembly session in a matter of days, members of the House will definitely elect their speaker. Will the speaker be Dogara or other contenders such as Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin?