[Profile] Salisu Buhari: Nigeria’s House of Reps speaker at age 29, lasted only 49 days in office

Biography

Ibrahim Salisu Buhari was born in January 1970 in Kano state to Salisu Buhari Daura, a Kano-based First Republic politician and businessman.

His father’s business dealt in computers and made an appreciable fortune at a very young age.

Ibrahim Salisu Buhari was Nigeria’s first House of Representatives speaker after the country was ushered into a new republic and democratic rule in 1999. He is also the sixth person to occupy the office in the history of the country.

Meanwhile, Sir Frederic Metcalfe of Great Britain was the first Speaker of the House of Representatives of Nigeria after its inauguration on 12 January 1955 by John Macpherson. He was replaced by the first indigenous speaker, Jaja Wachuku, in 1959.

Salisu’s tenure was immaturely truncated as the young and vibrant speaker was drowned in a pool of irredeemable controversies.

At 29, Salisu pulled off one of the greatest political frauds in Nigeria.

His reign lasted just 49 days before he was forced out of office. 

Education

Buhari reportedly claimed to have obtained a diploma in accountancy from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, in 1988.

Salisu also claimed he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Toronto, Canada in 1990.

Salisu also claimed to have completed his one-year mandatory national service with Standard Construction in Kano in 1991.

Emergence as Speaker

The charismatic Salisu came to the limelight when he won the election to represent Nassarawa Local Government, Kano State at the National Assembly under the umbrella of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

The PDP at that time had zoned the speakership to the North West, a region where Salisu hailed from. This factor gave him a top edge in to contest, and he won with the majority of the votes of the PDP-dominated house.

His emergence was supposed to be a fresh breath of hope for the youth of the country until the unimaginable fraud was exposed.

Controversies

His ordeal started on February 16, 1999, when TheNews magazine, published an investigative publication on the fraud pulled by Salisu.

The publication stated that:

  • Salisu got admitted into ABU but was denied the opportunity to study there when the school discovered that his credentials were forged.
  • He never participated in the one-year mandatory National Youth Service (NYSC) as he claimed; as his records were not found with the scheme.
  • He was born in 1970 as opposed to 1963, which was in the biodata submitted to INEC. Making him 29 while section 65(1) clearly stated that anyone below the age of 30 is disqualified from being a  member of the House of Representatives.
  • He had never attended the University of Toronto, talk more of graduating from there.

The News Magazine had written to the University of Toronto to confirm Salisu’s claim, but the University denied any record of his attendance.

But Salisu was able to play his way across all these hurdles to emerge as the speaker. His game plan only took him far for six weeks. The revelation of the investigation led to his resignation and prosecution. 

Defences

When confronted with these multiple allegations of fraud, he threatened to sue the publisher, asserting allegations of witch-hunting him.

According to a report by the BBC, Salisu resisted the pressure to resign and the House was put into chaos when, after the publication, he resumed to preside over the plenary. 

An attempt that made members who opposed Salisu’s move, to seize the mace, and invariably prevented the passage of any motion to support the speaker from presiding.

Admittance

The report left Salisu so disgraced and cornered that he was forced to admit the credibility of the allegations in the report.

He resigned with an apology. 

Below is the speech read by Salisu on the floor of the House, announcing his resignation on July 22, 1999:

Since the hand-over of the military and the subsequent inauguration of the House of Representatives, the House has focused on meeting the hopes and aspirations of the Nigerian people.

“I must thank you for the great honour you conferred upon me when you elected me Speaker of this august Assembly.” Since electing me, you have been virtually unanimous in your support for me. Consider therefore how sad and distressed I was, when this House and the nation was scandalized when questions were raised relating to my qualification to be a member of this House.

“The controversy generated by that issue, has greatly undermined my authority and prestige, making it difficult for me to continue in office as Speaker and member of this Honourable House. I, therefore, have no alternative but to resign my membership of the House which, I hereby do.

“I am bound, under all circumstances, to live above suspicion. It was wrong therefore for my conduct to be open to justifiable suspicion as it has been. I apologise to you. I apologise to the nation, I apologise to my family, and friends for all the distress I have caused them.

“I was led to error by the zeal to serve the nation. I trust therefore, that the nation will forgive me and give me another opportunity to serve. I still have faith in the nation and my commitment to her is greater now, seeing that I have wronged it. I have consequently advised my lawyer Chief Rotimi Williams SAN, CFR to withdraw my libel action against ‘The News’ magazine.

“Everything in life is for a purpose and my prayers is that my humiliation will illustrate that in our new democracy, no body, no matter how highly placed, will be above the law. As I look up from the ground following my fall from grace, I solemnly ask you for your forgiveness for as they say ‘The human soul is strongest when it forgoes revenge and forgives injury.’ I hope that in your own time, you will be able to offer me a helping hand.

“Permit me to seize this opportunity to express my regrets and offer my unreserved apologies to all Nigerians at home and abroad for the embarrassment this controversy has generated.

“As I leave you today, I urge you all to remember that this House has always been known for order and for positive change. It is true that we must progress from hence, but it must not be a chaotic progress, for the art of progress is to preserve order amidst change. I have no doubt therefore, that you, my brothers and sisters are equal to the task ahead.

“Finally, I wish to emphasize that the sweet memory of our short but useful time together will forever be cherished in my heart. For now, I bid you farewell and divine guidance for the rest of your tenure. I also wish you success as you labour in the cause of our country and nation building. I shall never forget your kindness to me. Please remember me in your prayers.”

Ghali Umar Na’Abba, another Kano politician, replaced him as speaker.

Pardon

After Salisu resigned, he was prosecuted and sentenced to two years in prison with the option of a fine. He paid his fine and was later granted a state pardon by President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Life after the scandal

After the scandal, Salisu took a sabbatical leave from the political arena.

An online publication reported that he has quietly retired to his woven sacks and mat business in Kano under his company, Rumbu Nigeria Limited.

Re-emergence

 In 2007, he was appointed as the secretary of the late Umaru Musa Yar’adua’s campaign council in Kano State.

His influence reportedly pulled many votes for the late president from the state.

In 2011, Salisu was also appointed as the director general of the 25-men campaign council inaugurated in Kano State by President Goodluck Jonathan in .

Controversies continue…

The life of Salisu revolves around controversies. In 2011, Salisu Buhari was appointed as a member, Governing Council of the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN).

The appointment was met with serious condemnation from the public.

Defending the appointment, the then presidential aide, Reuben Abati posited that one does not need to be a graduate to sit on a university Governing Council.

The decision was later reversed.

In May 2017, Salisu was inaugurated as a member of the Nigerian Industrial Policy and Competitiveness Advisory Council by the then-acting president, Yemi Osinbajo.


Disclaimer

The information in this article was curated from online sources. NewsWireNGR or its editorial team cannot independently verify all details.

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