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Dogara: Political Icon Of The Year By Turaki A. Hassan

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Nigeria’s Speaker, Yakubu Dogara (L)
“The
Board of Editors voted for you in recognition of your antecedents as a
dogged patriot, a torch bearer, a staunch believer in the principle of
the separation of powers and ultimately the defender of the democratic
faith. We have followed your path since you emerged the Speaker of the
House. We also know that there have been battles here and there. But you
are still here and we recognize the courage you have shown maintaining
the delicate balance between the independence of the legislature and
working with the executive and more importantly, your safeguarding the
principle of separation of power without rocking the boat.” 


These were
the exact words of Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of The Sun
newspaper Eric Osagie when he led management staff of the paper to
formally notify the Speaker of the award as Political Icon of the Year
2016.
Tomorrow, the Speaker will step forward for this recognition, which comes with its own concomitant responsibilities.
Coming
from a very humble background, one would have said that he was not cut
out for politics because from his days at the University of Jos to the
early part of his legal practice; nothing in his life indicated that he
will become a politician. His life, is a personification of the awesome
grace of the almighty God who has consistently led him in all his
endeavours.  What distinguishes and endears him to people is his
uncommon humility which is seldom the case with people occupying high
positions in our country. He plays politics without bitterness and
reaches out to even his staunchest critics and self-declared enemies.
I
recall that just few hours after his election as Speaker on June 9,
2015, the Speaker started the work of reaching out to his opponent in
both words and actions as he said in his inaugural speech that,
“together we will heal the wounds and divisions of this contest.
Together we shall work to deliver good legislation and good government
to our people.”
At around 2am,
we drove to the residence of Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila in Apo
Legislative quarters in Abuja in company of scores of members where he
truly began the work of healing the wounds and divisions of the
election. Unfortunately, Hon. Gbajabiamila wasn’t home.  It was the
Speaker’s singular decision even against the wishes of many of his
strong supporters and allies in the House that saw to the emergence of
Gbajabiamila as the House Leader. He continued to appeal to and pacify
those opposed to it and the rest as they say, is history.

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The
next acid test for Dogara was the constitution of the standing
committees of the House. In that too, he was able to navigate the
tumultuous waters displaying uncommon political and leadership prowess.
In spite of initial misgivings by few of his colleagues everything went
smoothly and one after the other the Speaker kept reaching out to them.
I
recall that the House Chief Whip Rt. Hon. Alhassan Ado Garba once told
me that he was shocked and that if he had his way he would have dug the
ground and buried himself when he heard a knock on his door and lo and
behold it was the Speaker – the very man whom he did everything to stop
from emerging and even continued to oppose his leadership. Once the door
was opened the Speaker only told him that “Alhassan we are brothers
please come let’s work together. Let’s put our differences aside and
begin the work of remaking Nigeria.”
Interestingly,
for these same and many other reasons the Leadership newspapers
bestowed on him the award of Politician of the Year 2015. Of particular
interest is that these recognitions are coming despite desperate,
calculated and well-planned efforts and attempts by his traducers to
tarnish his hard-earned reputation as incorruptible and patriotic
leader. Thankfully, the Speaker has been able to come out clean, with
his head high.
The
tales of lies, mischief, distortions, and allegations peppered with
tongue-in-cheek drumbeats and obvious fabrications have now crumbled on
their very head. Nigerians now know the truth because as Winston
Churchill said “Truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it,
ignorance may deride it, malice may distort it, but there it is.”
There
is nothing greater than the truth and Dogara’s life story reflects
nothing but the truth. It is his life, his way and what defines his
person. Here is one who achieved greatness through sheer hard work,
honesty, commitment to common cause and antique shrewdness.
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. In fact, he
strongly believes that establishing both principles is necessary for
Nigeria to make any meaningful progress.
Today,
the House of the Nigerian people, the green chamber, is at peace with
itself and busy legislating for the good of the people. Indeed, Dogara’s
efforts and leadership have started yielding positive fruits for the
country as record numbers of bills are being passed on daily basis. In
just one and half years, more than 150 bills have been passed by the
House just as work is being done on about 800 more. Of the 18
non-budget-related bills signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari,
17 are House bills and all emanated from the statues reforms committee
set up by the Speaker.
In
addition to this, Dogara is also strongly leading campaigns for the
financial and political autonomy for local governments which saw the
leadership of Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees paying him a
“Thank you and solidarity” visit recently.

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Worthy
of mention is the Speaker’s interventions on the humanitarian crisis in
the North-east where he is championing calls for the convocation of an
international donor conference to rebuild the region in addition to his
sponsoring of the North East Development Commission Establishment bill
which is now awaiting presidential assent; to his many visits to
Internally Displaced Persons camps across the country providing succour
and relief materials to them.
“This
kind of award…serves as a motivation and without motivation we cannot
achieve much. We cannot innovate without motivation and whether we like
it or not, politics remains the only way through which leadership can be
recruited in many countries and the only way we can institute
governments. So, it (politics) has come to be with us; we cannot run
away from it. It can only take people and not angels to improve on
existing situations; so when leaders who truly love what they do are
motivated, this increases the chances of having better leadership, which
will translate to the development of the country,” the Speaker said on
December 6, 2016 when management of The Sun newspaper delivered the
award letter to him. 
Follow Turaki via Twitter @Turakies

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