My penultimate week was an inch night to the brink of being ruined not by the multiple deaths of covid-19 pandemic, but by the shocker news of the alleged death of the former speaker of the house of representatives, Umar Ghali Na’abba as peddled by some lazy blabbermouths and conduits of sensational journalism. Surprisingly, it was equally modulated by a meticulous social media influencer, Chidi Calli. Though, he later made a counter post.
When the news flashed on my notification bar, I went for my sling to shoot down Coronavirus while thinking Ghali must’ve been contracted of covid-19 being an indigene of Kano State where the virus or a strange disease is blazing like hell. A second thought resonated and l’d to check the mainstream media online platforms to be sure of the veracity of such news. Good that none carried it! I haved a sigh of relieve.
I’ve always been praying and aspiring to become a policy maker as a buddy politician. l desire to be in the green or red chamber promulgating legislations and legislating over the affairs of our nation. Therefore, l’ve developed keen interest in following legislative happenings in Nigeria, Britain , USA and South Africa. So , when I contested in the 2019 general elections under the platform of the young progressives party (YPP), to represent Ogoja/Yala federal constituency in the house of Reps, I did that with full knowledge of what to do if my people saddle me their mandate. Unfortunately, it went the other way. The man that holds the mandate in trust, RT.Hon.Jarigbe Akom isn’t doing bad. He has the interest of the people glued to his heart.
I’ve always love outspoken and eloquent speakers. I love the South African man by the name, Julius Malema. I love Dino melaye. I love smart Adeyemi in his first term as a senator. l love Farouk Lawan. I love Ghali Na’abba and Abdulmumin Jibrin These lawmakers are smart and witty.
Since the advent of democracy in 1999. The green chamber hasn’t had a speaker with a mind of his own; a spirit of his own, or an independent fellow that should be loyal to the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria and to the covenants of his office. Rather, all we’ve had were either Loyal to the president or a slave to corruption. In all of this, one man stood out for the singular demonstration of bravery in attempting to checkmate the rascality of the Executive arm of government. That man is Ghali Na’abba.
Before Ghali was, Salisu Buhari was speaker of house of representatives for about two months. He was accused of certificate forgery; claiming that he got it from university of Toronto. He resigned: convicted and sentenced to two years in prison with an option of a fine.
He was pardoned by president Olusegun Obasanjo on 23 July, 1999, Salisu apologized and abdicated his position. Hear him: “l apologize to you. I apologize to the nation. I apologize to my family and friends for all the distress I have caused them. I was misled in error by a zeal to serve the nation, I hope the nation will forgive me and give me the opportunity to serve again”.
After Toronto certificate forgery scandal elbowed Salisu out, Umar Ghali Na’abba was elected in 2000. Ghali was a great guy as a speaker. He was fearless. He was audacious and outspoken. All other speakers after him were either ‘swegbe’ or ‘kpako’ apart from Dimeji Bankole was did a bit good in terms of quality passage of legislations.
In August 2002, the house issued an ultimatum to president Obasanjo to either resign or face impeachment elections. In spite of the staggering pressure from prominent individuals, Ghali Na’abba said the House wouldn’t withdraw the resolution and went on to lead the unsuccessful impeachment notice. A delegation of prominent Northern Oligarchy led by the then Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero was dispatched to broker truce between him and OBJ. Their efforts proved abortive.
In 2003, Ghali Na’abba sought for re-election in April and lost. Since then, he hasn’t been successfull after many attempts. In December 2004, my in-laws honoured him with a chieftaincy tittle of Okwuru Ora (people’s speaker) in imo State by Umuezeala Nsu Autonomous community in Ehime Mbano LGA for fighting for true Federation. The independence of the legislature and sustenance of democracy. He was the last speaker that dared a sitting president.
Aminu Bello Masari, the incumbent Governor of Kastina State took over from Ghali Na’abba in 2003. There was no criminal charges against. Though he committed crimes against his conscience. The house under his superintendent was quite, dull and pro – Obasanjo. He was obviously brought by OBJ to be his ball-boy. The conventional ruckus and unparliamentary licentious atmosphere that was usually noticed in the chamber during arguments and debates was put to rest. That was what the executive wanted. He managed the constitutional tenure elongation scheme very cleverly. He was tied to the apron string of OBJ and was properly supped. Nigerians resisted their evil agenda until he left. He was the presidents speaker.
On June 6,2007, he was succeeded by Patricia Olubunmi Foluke Etteh, a former hairdresser and beauty therapist. She became the first and only female speaker of the house since sir Frederic Metcalfe, a Briton began as the first speaker in 1955. In July 2007, the Cloud thickened for her over ₦628m scandal. She was accused of embezzling and misappropriating the mentioned fund (about U$$5m) on renovation of her official residence and that of her deputy and the buying of 12 official cars meant for the house. Of course, she denied the allegation.
Farouk Lawan, Dimeji Bankole, Mole Soyinka and Anti – Etteh group mounted pressure on her to resign. On October 30, she resigned alongside her deputy, Babangida Nguroje. Hon.Terngu Tsegba assumed office as interim speaker. During the 6th Assembly valedictory session, she was acquitted as the house said: “there is no record or proceedings of the house where Patricia Olubunmi Etteh was ever indicted”.
After the fall of Patricia Etteh, Sabur Oladimeji Bankole (Dimeji Bankole for short) became the substantive speaker at about 1:30pm on November, 2007, beating his challenger, George Jolaoyw from Osun State by 304 votes to 20. He was elected at the age of 37. Making him the youngest speaker. An excerpt from his inaugural speech reads: “l’m taking over the mantle of leadership at a very difficult time. But these are hard times, we need to build confidence again and assure the populace that we’re still their representatives. I want an independent house that Nigerians will be proud of, this is my first task. “Was the house truly independent under his superintendent? Like his predecessor, he was accused of Malfeasances and financial improprieties just a week into office.
That same week, his antagonists, called for his resignation and claimed that he didn’t finish the compulsory national youth service Corps (NYSC) service. He proved his accusers wrong. As times went on, the incumbent minister of State for labour and employment, Festus Egwarewa Adeniyi Keyamo (SAN) accused Bankole of spending a whopping sum of ₦539,460,825(five hundred and thirty nine million, four hundred and sixty thousand, Eight hundred and twenty five Naira from the national assembly account to buy 380 Peugeot cars for the oversight functions of its committee. That was on 12 December,2007. The petition came on Wednesday, October 22,2008.
On 22 June, 2010, he saw to the suspension of 11 members of the house for their gross indiscipline actions inline with order 10, rule 5(6) of the house.
They were: Dino melaye, Austin Nwachukwu, Doris Uboh, Gbenga Oduaye, independence Ogunewe, West ldahosa, Kayode Amusa, Solomon Achinawhi, Bitmus Kaze and Ana’s A Bass. The 11 members were called the progressive. They accused the speaker of embezzling 100 million US dollars.
During his reign, about ₦1 trillion unspent funds by MDAs were returned to the Government treasury. About ₦5trillion internally generated revenues by MDAs were equally returned after 5years of hoarding. Out of the 136 passed bills, two among them stood out which include:
Freedom of information (FOl) act and Fiscal responsibility act (FRA). FRA enables revenue generating agencies of Government to present their budgets for scrutiny every years.
In 2011, he was tried by EFCC and cleared of all charges. In June 2011, Aminu Wazari Tambuwal succeeded Dimeji Bankole by technically knocking out Mrs Mulikat Akande-Adeola , the PDP’s preferred candidate with 252 votes to 90. Obviously, little is know about him as speaker other than playing the rebel game and incessant “political prostituting” from one party to another.
Recall that the people’s Democratic party (PDP) had zoned the speakership position to the southwest while the deputy speaker was zoned to the northeast. But Tambuwal and Emeka lhedioha conjoined forces with the opposition, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) led by its powerful leader, Ahmed Bola Tinubu that was opposing anyone from the southwest holding the position of speaker for political reasons. They succeeded in thwarting PDP zoning formula.
After the Nass election, the speaker and his deputy paid a visit to the PDP national secretariat as prodigal sons where they apologized for their wrongdoings and were forgiven and told to go and sin no more. Though, he appeared afterwards to be more stubborn and disloyal to his party as he was deep in romance with anti PDP elements.
As a defector, this has been his political trajectory. In 2003, he was elected under the all Nigeria people’s party (ANPP). In 2007, he defected to democratic people’s party (DPP) and when he was denied of ticket, he returned to ANPP. That same year, he joined Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko to dump ANPP for PDP. On 28 October 2014, he defected to all progressive Congress (APC) . Jonathan and PDP were betrayed. On August 1,2018, he crosstituted (defected) as South Africa would put it from APC to PDP. What a great defector! The Nigerian pilot newspapers of Thursday, October 11 2012 , described him as a Rebel within. As a lawmaker, he was extremely ambitious and would take any risk without bathing an eyelid to betray his party provided his interest is protected. On December 9, 2013, Tambuwal accused the then president Goodluck Jonathan of encouraging corruption in Nigeria. He left office in 2015.
In almost similar circumstances Tambuwal emerged speaker was the Same way Yakubu Dogara came rebelling against their (Bukula Saraki inclusive) mother party agenda. Dogara was the 14th speaker of house of reps. He led from 9 June 2015 to 11 June 2019 after winning a keenly contested election with the incumbent speaker Femi Gbajabiamila. Dogara scored 182, while Gbajabiamila polled 174 votes.
Like most of his predecessors, he was equally alleged of financial impropriety too. Apart from the budget padding saga that painted the 8th assembly bad on a rough surface, Dogara was an excellent speaker. However, on 29 July, 2016, Mr Abdulmunmi Jibrin in a petition to EFCC , alleged that, “speaker Yakubu Dogara and three others fraudulently shortchanged the house of representatives and abused their offices by unilaterally taking away ₦40 billion out of the ₦100 billion allocated for constituency projects and distributed same to themselves and the trio of deputy speaker, Yusuf lasun, house whip, Alhassan Ado Doguwa and Minority leader, Leo Ogar without approval of the house. On 14 August, 2016, he denied the allegation.
Yakubu Dogara has sponsored people’s centred bills and motions. He sponsored the bill for the Northeast development commission establishment bill 2015, budget process bill and the strong one; a bill to amend section 143 of the Nigerian constitution in order to make the process of removal of the president vice president ( on charges of miscy) less ambiguous. He also sponsored a motion for both houses of the national assembly to activate their constitutional powers under section 58(1)&(5) of the 1999 constitution in relation to bill over which the president has failed to exercise constitutional responsibilities and powers under section 58(1)&(4) of the constitution. These bills and motions were considered to be calculated attempts to weaken the presidency.
HOR under Dogara was reputed for having the highest number of bills passed into law in the history of the Nigeria’s national assembly. He was lauded for his ability to reconcile all aggrieved members after his emergence. Recall that he and Sen.Bukola Saraki were products of political revenge by PDP. He was the first speaker to leave his seat in order to sponsor a motion and Femi Gbajabiamila is the second as speaker to do so. He Hon.Tony Chinedu Nwulu were the main proponents of not too young to run bill. He supported the local government autonomy bill and set in motion the agenda for budget reforms. Sincerely, apart from the face off between him and the Buhari’s apologies, Dogara was a darling speaker.
Femi Gbajabiamila is just new. He’s still on my political beam balance.
By Comr.(Hon) Ogar Emmanuel Oko. Is the secretary of the young progressives party (YPP – C’river state) and PRO of the Niger Delta activists forum (NDAF) and ljegu Ojor Autonomous community.
He can be reached via ogaremm