Yakubu Dogara: Perfect Choice for the House Speakership By Mark Amaza
Since the March 28th elections presidential and National Assembly elections which saw the All Progressives’ Congress (APC), everyone has been waiting with bated breaths to those who will emerge as the principal officers of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The importance of having the right people as the principal officers of the National Assembly goes beyond just having power – it is imperative that the right people won those positions so as to provide the necessary leadership that will enable the APC to have synergy between the executive and legislative arms in order to deliver on the campaign promises of the party.
Thankfully, the APC has refused to zone those offices, a departure from the past under the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), which inadvertently restricted the choices at hand. This has allowed as many interested persons as possible to declare their intentions for the top offices of Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Among the contestants for the lower house, one name that stands out is that of Hon. Yakubu Dogara, who is representing Dass/Bogoro/Tafawa Balewa Federal Constituency in Bauchi State and the current chairman, House Services Committee.
Hon. Dogara, who will be starting his second term in the House in June, is a lawyer with many years of experience and whose experience in government started with being a Special Assistant to former Minister of State for Transport in 2005.
In his eight-year stint in the House of Representatives, Hon. Dogara who also sits on the House Committees for Federal Capital Territory, Information and National Orientation Agency, Judiciary, Labour and Productivity, Land Transport and Legislative Budget and Research brought his mark to bear in his sponsorship of the Corporate Manslaughter and Data Protection Bills. He also sponsored the Federal Competition Commission Bill in 2011 and a bill in 2013 to amend Section 143 of the Nigerian Constitution in order to make the process of removal of the President and Vice President on charges of misconduct less ambiguous. In the same year, he sponsored bills on Public Intenet Disclosure, Subsidiary Legislation and Hire Purchase.
It is based on his experience and work as a member of the Legislative Budget and Research Committee that he is pledging to strengthen oversight and ensure that public funds are judiciously applied and accounted for, including the budget of the National Assembly whose breakdown is not known publicly.
His other pledges as potential Speaker are:
- To make the House a robust and independent chamber, willing of course, to collaborate with other arms of government in providing good governance.
- To promote equality of members
- To encourage a committee system that places premium on the experience and career interest of members.
- To improve administrative issues in the House by ensuring that electronic voting is instituted as a regular feature.
If all these pledges are fulfilled, Nigerians can be rest assured that the next House of Representatives will be a vibrant one where it shall aid the executive arm of the government in achieving its goals of making life easier for Nigerians without compromising its independence and power of oversight.
One reason I am confident that Hon. Dogara will fulfill his pledges is that he has so far shown himself to be a politician who is willing to fight for justice. A clear example is in the circumstances that led to his joining the APC in December 2013 after being elected on the platform of the PDP because the PDP-dominated Bauchi State House of Assembly had refused to reverse its unconstitutional decision and its decision to suspend the member representing Tafawa Balewa constituency who raised an objection to the decision. It was a move that would have ended his political career considering the fact that his constituency is a bastion of PDP support, but he did it because he did not want to be in the same party as those who were behind the impunity. Thankfully, his constituents chose to give another four-year mandate to their political fighter.
Another factor that should earn Hon. Dogara the Speakership is on the basis of equity: the North-East zone which pulled in the second highest votes for the APC has not held a principal office in the National Assembly beyond Deputy Speakership and that ended in 2011. It is only fair that this zone is well-compensated with the seat of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
And what better person to occupy the seat than the 49-year old law graduate from the University of Jos and experienced legislator from Bauchi State?