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Rinsola Abiola: Speakership Tussle, Meet The Major Contenders For The 8th Assembly

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The 8th National Assembly is set to be inaugurated shortly and in less than a month, a new Speaker will emerge. The tenure of the current Speaker, Rt. Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, will end on 29th May as he will take over the mantle of leadership of Sokoto State from the current governor, Aliyu Wamakko.

What Nigerians, therefore, need is a Speaker who will develop upon – and even outdo – Tambuwal’s bold legacy, and a number four citizen who will put the interest of Nigerians first and truly key into the APC’s slogan of (positive) “Change”. This article seeks to introduce the major contenders for this very crucial office.

Hon. Yakubu Dogara (@doyakubu)

Representing the Bogoro/Dass/Tafawa-Balewa federal constituency of Bauchi State, Hon. Dogara, a lawyer by profession, has been in the House since 2007. During his two terms in the House, he has chaired committees on House Services (2010-2011, and 2011 till date), Customs and Excise (2007-2010), and has served on others including the Committee on Capital Markets and Institutions (after the corruption allegations levelled against Herman Hembe necessitated a reconstitution of the panel), Foreign Affairs, Judiciary and Steel Development.

Dogara’s sojourn in the House has, so far, earned him a reputation for being incorruptible and passionate about maintaining the independence of the Legislature. This is evident in the bills he has sponsored, some of which include the Corporate Manslaughter Bill (2010), the Data Protection Bill (2010), and in 2013, a Bill for an Act to alter constitutional provisions so that ambiguities regarding the removal of the President and Vice-President on allegations of misconduct may be removed. He also sponsored the Public Interest Disclosure Bill, the Hire Purchase Bill, and the Subsidiary Legislation Bill in 2013.

He moved a motion against the Federal Government’s granting of “illegal and indiscriminate waivers”, and another asking that the powers of the National Assembly be activated regarding the President’s veto on the many lingering bills that are yet to be signed. He also moved a motion regarding the Central Bank’s Cashless Policy, asking that it be implemented in phases in accordance with available infrastructure.

Dogara is an alumnus of the University of Jos, Robert Gordon University (Scotland), Oxford University and the Harvard Kennedy School. With legislative aims and interests including “regulating monopoly”, “seeing to the repeal of obsolete laws” and enacting good tenancy laws, many are hopeful that his bid, if successful, will be in line with the President-Elect’s mandate of Change.

 

Hon. (Dr.) Abdulmumin Jibrin (@AbdulABMJ)

Before going into politics, Jibrin was an established businessman and CEO of Green Forest Group Ltd and the Turkish construction firm, TASYAPI. He became a member of the House of Representatives in 2011 when he was elected to represent the Kiru/Bebeji Federal Constituency of Kano State. After members of the (current) Seventh Assembly were elected, Jibrin formed the Seventh Assembly group, which he described as “a platform for members-elect to establish acquaintance and cross-fertilise ideas emanating from various constituencies for the overall interest of the country.”

He is currently the Chairman of the House Committee on Finance, and is a member of others, such as the committees on Foreign Affairs, Electoral Matters and Youth Development, among others. He has also actively openly criticised some actions of the Goodluck Jonathan-led government and was involved in a bit of controversy last year when he had a heated exchange with the Minister for Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala.

During one of his House assignments as Chairman of the ad-hoc committee on Finance, Petroleum Upstream, Petroleum Downstream and Gas Resources, his committee uncovered a non-remittance of N450 billion by the NNPC to the Federation Account. He made similar discoveries during other assignments, such as non-remittance of funds running into billions by corporation operating within Nigeria, and was able to compel such corporations to remit the outstanding funds.

Jibrin is an advocate for diversification of the economy, and an alumnus of the London Business School, Harvard Business School and INSEAD, France.

Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila (@femigbaja)

Born 25th June 1962, “Femi Gbaja”, as he is popularly called, needs no introduction. He currently represents Surulere Federal Constituency I of Lagos State and his legislative career began 12 years ago in 2003.

An alumnus of the University of Lagos and the John Marshall Law School, Chicago, Gbajabiamila practised law for many years in the United States before returning to Nigeria to take part in politics.

Gbajabiamila is currently the Minority Leader of the House and has served on many House Committees, including that of the much publicised AMCON probe. He has also sponsored many bills, some of which include a Bill for the amendment of the Nigerian Communications Commissions Act (2013), the Construction Industry Local Content Development Bill (2012), the Workman Unpaid Wages Prohibition Bill (2012), the Students Loan (Access to Higher Education) Bill (2012), among others.

Gbajabiamila came under media attack – allegedly sponsored by the then ruling party, PDP – when he moved a motion for the impeachment of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2012. The Nigerian public regarded this as “punishment” for the courage he showed by raising the motion in response to the many acts of misconduct by the President and instead of tarnishing his image, this further endeared him to many.

His colourful run in the House has seen him being recognised as one of the foremost lawmakers in the country and many also believe that this may just be his time; especially as he remained Minority Leader even after lawmakers in the All Progressives Congress constituted a simple majority in the Lower House.

Conclusion

From the aforementioned, it is evident that most of the major contenders for the Speakership of the Eighth Assembly possess sufficient experience to execute the duties attached to the Office. Dogara’s reputation for being incorruptible and staying true to a cause will mirror the President-Elect’s intolerance for corruption and all forms of graft, Jibrin’s exposure and passion for a more robust economy may rub off on other legislators and result in the enactment of laws which will aid economic development, and Gbajabiamila’s progressiveness may very well create a positive vibe in the House and further consolidate on Tambuwal’s achievements.

The House of Representatives will be in good hands, irrespective of which of these men emerges as Speaker next month.

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The writer, Rinsola Abiola (@RiRiMoshood) is the Secretary/PRO of the APC Young Women Forum.

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