Since he assumed office as the speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara has left no one in doubt that he was poised to leave an indelible mark in the sand of times. Within the short period that he has presided over the affairs of the House, Dogara has brought dignity and prestige, not only to the office of the Speaker, but to the House of Representatives as an institution.
But this is not surprising to close observers of the Dogara speakership. Having won a keenly contested election, he made a solemn promise to his colleagues, and indeed Nigerians, that under his leadership, they “shall wage an unrelenting legislative war on Nigeria’s problems.” And this war, he has continued to wage legislatively to confront Nigeria’s myriad of problems.
Speaker Dogara’s stellar performance so far is as a result of a combination of his upbringing and his leadership skill, honed over time from experiences gathered in various positions he held both as a member of the House of Representatives and as a lawyer.
Born in 1967 in Tafawa Balewa province of Bauchi State, Dogara rose from a very humble background to the apex of legislative leadership, largely through a stint of hard work and favour from God. He was first elected into the House of Representatives in 2007 from one of the most diverse constituencies in the country where Christians, Moslems, and many ethnic groups co-exist in peace.
It is this potpourri of ethnic and religious mix that made it easy for him to easily win the confidence of his colleagues across religious and political divides. Under his leadership, the House of Representatives has improved in leaps and bounds.
Apart from setting up a committee to review obsolete and outdated laws, the House, under the guidance of Dogara, set a record by passing for first reading, 130 bills in one day. It is imperative to point out that in the 7th Assembly, which was rated high in terms of bills’ passage, 700 bills were presented in four years, while in just one session, about 600 bills were presented in the Green Chamber for consideration under the present leadership and almost 100 of them have scaled third reading as at June 9 this year.
It is not only in the area of lawmaking that the Speaker has excelled. As far as Dogara is concerned, to lead is to serve. And service he has been doing to not only his colleagues in the House of Representatives, but to his constituents, his state and indeed, the nation.
He has used his vantage position as the speaker to draw attention to the deprivation and want of the people in the North-East, who have to bore the brunt of the terrorist activities. In this regard, the Speaker, for the first time in the history of the House stepped down from his exalted chair and presented a motion on the urgent need for the rehabili-tation, recovery, resettlement and reconstruction of the zone.
Again, he is sponsoring a bill seeking to establish the North- East Development Commission (NEDC), which will soon be passed into law. Not only that, Dogara has also been advocating for the convocation of an international donor conference for the rebuilding of the violence ravaged North- East.
This is in addition to his humanitarian visits to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps across the country, taking the message of hope to the people apart from providing succour to them. To him, public office is not meant for personal gains but for public good.
It is Dogara’s philosophy that leaders should at all times live exemplary lives of service, sacrifice and selflessness. The Speaker always says that justice is needed in building a civil society, and that for societies to grow, leaders must understand the workings of justice which is necessary in any democracy for equality to thrive.
Infact, he strongly believes that establishing both principles is necessary for Nigeria to make any meaningful progress. Dogara’s argument is that for any society to grow and develop the process of development must start from the base to the top because where you start from the top, you are digging a grave.
He noted that in Nigeria, we have not only dug a grave for democracy but are possibly in the process of burying it, obviously referring to the poor running of local governments in the country. It is also his believe that democracy, which is the best system of government ever to be invented by man, promises nothing to its citizens other than life, liberty and the pursuance of happiness.
That it is these tools of democracy that citizens can leverage on and harness their potential to build a greater, peaceful and prosperous society. His practice of politics is that which is without bitterness. He believes in consensus building and compromise.
It is his political philosophy that leadership is not a zero sum game and that at all level and at all times, inclusiveness must be the guiding principles of leadership so that greater good can be delivered for the greater number of the people.
In a show of his political sagacity and dexterity, Dogara conceded the House Leadership position to his opponent in the Speakership election; an act which helped in no small way in stabilising the House in the last one year.
The recent show of solidarity to the speaker by his colleagues when the House reconvened from its annual recess in September is worth a mention here because it once again proved the doubting Thomases wrong and is an attestation to Dogara’s political prowess and wide acceptability amongst his colleagues inspite of delibrate, intentional, calculated and desperate attempts by his traducers to discredit him and tarnish his hard-earned reputation by feeding the public with total falsehood, lies and by distortion of facts.
Thank God that Nigerians have since realised the antics of these disgruntled elements and unscrupulous individuals, who are pursuing personal vendetta against him. Undoubtedly, these ignoble individuals thought that by telling and propagating the same lies again and again against Dogara, Nigerians will take and believe it hook line and sinker.
Unfortunately for them, they have forgotten that even Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s infamous war propagandist, had cautioned against such when he asserted that “there will come a day when all the lies will collapse under their own weight, and the truth will triumph again.”
This is the moment of truth. For all the years he spent in the National Assembly before becoming speaker last year, Dogara had built for himself a well known reputation as an incorruptible lawmaker.
Indeed, it is a well-known fact that in the 6th Assembly when he chaired the House Committee on Customs and Excise, Dogara rejected $5 million bribe and went ahead to conduct one of the most credible and thorough investigations that resulted in the reform of the Customs Service.
What more can one say about him? As Leadership Newspaper confers this honour on one of Nigeria’s leading legislative icons, it will no doubt spur him to strive harder to impact on the people of Nigeria, whose interest is his major concern. It is well deserved.
Indeed, it was in recognition of Dogara’s political prowess and sterling leadership qualities that in June this year, he was conferred with the prestigious Zik Leadership Award for Public Service for year 2015.
Interestingly, the Leadership Newspaper Group has also said they chose him for the prestigious award in recognition of his gallant display of political astuteness, quality of social capital and his cosmopolitan disposition.
•Hassan is the Special Adviser, Media and Public Affairs to Dogara