By Godwin Onyeacholem
Come June 2015, a new Speaker of the 8th House of Representatives in the 4th Republic will be elected to replace the incumbent, Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who many Nigerians believe has had a glorious stint in that exalted office.
No doubt, the 360-member House of Reps that will be inaugurated in June parades a healthy share of excellent men and women, inspiring souls and visionary patriots among whom Abdulmumin Jibrin is numbered, propelled by a passion for service and a burning desire to make a difference in the collective efforts towards achieving lasting peace, equity, justice and sustainable development.
At the moment, at least six Honourable members have signalled their intention to contest the position in which all House members will vote to decide who becomes the 12th Speaker of the House of Representatives since Rt. Hon. Jaja Wachukwu in 1959. Jibrin, representing Kiru/Bebeji Federal Constituency from Kano State, is one of the top contenders, indeed a major force to reckon with considering his antecedents.
A brilliant young man with a tremendous grassroots following, Jibrin’s local and international exposures have combined so ingeniously to avail him a superb knowledge of the existential problems of the Nigerian masses; as a highly resourceful legislator, he has been helping to find solutions to these problems as best as he possibly can.
Of all the aspirants, he is the youngest, and the first to publicly announce his intention to contest the Speakership. Before venturing out into politics, he had had a stint in the private sector where he successfully ran a group of companies, as well as in the academia as a university teacher.
Jibrin was first elected into the House of Reps in 2011, and has since been Chairman Committee of Finance where, in the last four years, a number of remarkable achievements have been recorded under his astute leadership. To recall just three: the Committee raised the bar of oversight on the Nigerian economy in a manner that has never been witnessed in the history of the House; it considerably improved the quality of Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) analysis and national revenue framework preparation and monitoring, and then brought to the consciousness of the public the vexed issue of Internally Generated Revenue which led to increased projections from N228billion in 2011 to N452billion in 2014. In particular, as a direct result of the Committee’s work, over N150billion was collected by the Federal Government within four months.
In addition to all this, Jibrin chaired and co-chaired a lot of parliamentary investigations, and generally, he and his team achieved substantial success in the area of boosting collectible revenue. Beyond his sterling educational training and significant legislative experience, his enduring spirit of fellow feeling and charming sociability stand him in good stead to be the next Speaker of the House of Representatives.
As the race gathers momentum with each aspirant fine-tuning strategies and engaging in intense lobbying, Jibrin has made a great offer to all new members-elect who constitute more than 80 percent of the in-coming House: 75 per cent of Committee Chairmanship and Deputy will go to them if they use their superior number to elect him Speaker. And this is not just a man blowing hot air. Regardless of the sentiments of detractors, of opponents who have been whispering to new members-elect to treat the overture as fake, they are informed here and now that Jibrin is not a con artist. He is a man of his words, and he will fulfil this solemn promise.
Thankfully, the President-elect General Muhammadu Buhari has announced that he does not have any interest in who becomes the Senate President or Speaker. He has said he is prepared to work with anyone elected by members. The 7th House of Representatives deserves commendation for breaking new ground and making history when, in its wisdom, it decided to elect its Speaker on the basis of merit. It is this same position that the new president has adopted this time around, and it is a position Jibrin has consistently canvassed from the outset of his campaign.
Today’s Nigeria expects a complete break from the odious past. The people are more preoccupied with issues that will improve their lives than whether the President, the Senate President or the Speaker is from the north or from the south, from the east or the west, or which faith he or she professes. Issues of poverty, unemployment, poor healthcare delivery, corruption and the like bother them much more than region, ethnicity or religion.
The APC demonstrated a hint of its determination to re-open a fresh chapter in national life with its widely celebrated presidential primaries which allowed all interested members of the party, regardless of where they come from, to have a shot at the presidency. For this gesture, the party was loudly applauded across the country. The party will now do well to build on this token of renewal by toeing the same dignified path of giving their members in the House the free rein to decide who their Speaker will be by merit.
When this is done, it is only fair that the Speaker’s cap should go to none other than Jibrin, a very vibrant and competent legislator who already has spelt out a 3-point plan to revitalize the House for the overall development of the legislature and the country as a whole.
Godwin Onyeacholem is a journalist. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org
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