How We Surpassed Previous Legislative Assemblies- Hon. Dogara
(A Valedictory Speech by the Speaker, House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, his Excellency, Rt. Hon. Yakubu dogara, at the Valedictory Session of the 8th house of representatives, thursday, 6th june, 2019)
I am delighted to address you today at this valedictory session of the 8th House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. With gratitude to the Almighty God, I congratulate all of us, Honourable Members, who have been divinely privileged to witness the end of the journey that we started in this hallowed chambers on Tuesday, 9th June, 2015. Conversely, With a heavy heart, we remember our colleagues who passed on in the course of our tenure. (Observe One Minute silence)
2. I wish to express my profound appreciation to all the Leaders and Members of this House for the confidence you reposed in me by electing me the Speaker of the 8th Assembly. I thank you deeply for the whole-hearted cooperation that the Leadership enjoyed from you throughout these four unbroken years. This wonderful cooperation, no doubt, enabled us to have a very stable and peaceful 8th House of Representatives and to set records that have no parallels in our history of law making as a nation.
3. Honourable Colleagues, on your behalf, I make bold to say that the 8th House of Representatives, and the National Assembly as an institution, has been a huge success. This is without apology to whoever may hold a contrary opinion. The stubborn facts as provided chairman of Rules and Business Committee are out there for every commentator to see. We took off amidst head winds and turbulence but on stabilizing, we have witnessed book throwers and table climbers transform into solid leaders. We have seen Mace grabbers wrestled until they surrendered to the dictates of the Rule of Law, true friendship and brotherhood. We have witnessed the transformation of those who struggled to move mere motions to eloquent debaters and to crown it all, those who, at inception did not understand themselves, working together, in spite of whatever differences, for the national good. This is the spirit that defines us as legislators, the institution of the legislature; and I am happy we embraced it fully.
4. As we take the final bow on the 9th of June, I take pride in our corporate accomplishments in these four epochal years in the governance annals of our country. With our collective efforts and commitment, we have deepened and grown our democracy. With the passage of a total of 382 Bills, we surpassed the record of the Houses of Representatives that preceded us.
5. Ironically, the 8th National Assembly also holds the record as the most persecuted and harassed Parliament, ever in Nigeria’s history. Some of our members bear the scars of reckless deployment of Institutional prerogatives. We witnessed sieges and invasion by State operatives. Some members suffered witch-hunts, house arrests and false accusations. We are also witnesses to barrage of uncharitable criticisms and assessments bandied on daily basis in the media by hired mercenaries who masquerade as analysts. Most of these analysts are ignorant of the fact that the parliament was not designed to be an alter of praise for the Executive but a co-equal branch to serve as a check on Executive power.
6. The job of parliaments all over the world is to escalate constructive conflict. It is our job to search for the truth and without the clash and compromise of ideas, the truth can never be found. Everything loses its meaning in the absence of the truth. Anyone who sees disagreement or conflict as inherently bad has no business leading a democracy because we are not likely to ever see any healthy democracy that is not productively noisy. This House and indeed the legislature, must always engage in debates about both pleasant and unpleasant issues, if it must continue to do the work of democracy.
7. Progress ceases the very day we cease to disagree. Every invention, every innovation has always come from someone who disagreed with the status quo. That is why the Athenian law maker, Solon, undoubtedly one of those who cradled Democracy, once decreed it a crime for citizens to shrink from controversy. No Parliament anywhere can win a popularity contest and Parliaments are not meant to receive praise. Any Parliament that receives praises especially from the Executive must be an assemblage of enablers who have abandoned fidelity to their oath of office.
8. To the chagrin of some, I am happy that this Assembly, just like others before it, did not allow partisanship to erode our system of checks and balances. My fulfilment as a leader in this Assembly stems from the fact that, bolstered by the spirit of patriotism and nationalism, we were able to sustained the legacies of previous parliaments by ensuring that this great Institution was not compromised or exploited.
9. We may not have achieved our Legislative Agenda hundred percent, but I have no doubt that posterity and history will acknowledge that in the 8th House of Representatives, we did our best, given the circumstances and the very toxic environment under which we operated.
10. Hon colleagues, as we draw the curtains on the 8th Assembly today, I am still as concerned about the future of our dear country, as I was, the very day I delivered my Inaugural address almost four years ago. I worry daily about the alarming rate of insecurity across the country. It appears we are losing the fight against violence and as if that is not bad enough, the situation is so dire that known statesmen are becoming petrified and speaking up in ways that may further rend our national fault lines. It is like we refused to hear the whispers and now the screams are threatening our ear drums.
11. This is a national problem that we can only solve if we pull our selves together and not apart; regardless of political persuasions or creed. The challenge is to get the leadership that throws out politics and partisanship out of the window. Leadership that reins in all our best human and material resources to confront these menacing challenges. Yet, instead of uniting to confront this very danger, all one hears are sermons of divisiveness and permutations for 2023 elections. I wonder daily if this is not how the bottom looks like.
12. This is a time that all of us elected or appointed to positions of authority should soberly reflect on the deteriorating welfare of our hapless citizens and live up to the biddings of our offices and the Oaths we took; so that our people can yet hope again and begin to rebuild their lives.
13. Hon colleagues, in spite of all my worries about the project Nigeria, my optimism about our future remains, undiminished. I said before and I now repeat that, I hold no fears for the future because we are limited only by leadership and our vision, not by our resources. We shall overcome! No matter how long the night may last, the day will break. I have no doubt that our salvation will break out as sudden as the dawn appears. The scriptures say, “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning”. Let us all unite in working to hasten this glorious morning.
14. At this juncture, permit me to extend to all our Members who are not returning for the 9th Assembly, my best wishes in their personal and political endeavours. I hope that we will all continue to be in touch. I will continue to cherish the glowing memories of our colleagues who passed on in the course of the 8th National Assembly. May their souls continue to rest in eternal peace.
15. Let me acknowledge the fact that I, and perhaps many of us, might have made one mistake or another and caused offence among ourselves these four years. This is expected since we are human. May I therefore implore everyone I might have wronged to forgive such wrongs. On my part, I hold no grudges against anyone, and I plead with everyone to forgive his brothers and sisters. Let us leave here today without any resentment or bitterness in our hearts.
16. In closing, I want to charge the Members-elect of the 9th National Assembly to be determined to raise the bar of the records of the 8th National Assembly. One sore point that is a must-cure in our democracy is the issue of flawed elections. We must ensure the conclusion of the ongoing legislative processes on Electoral Reforms in a way that will make electoral fraud near-impossible, if we are to enjoy true democracy. We may have done much, but the work of democracy still remains undone.
17. I thank you all most immensely, once again, for your cherished cooperation and understanding with me and the Leadership of the House throughout our tenure.
18. I also want to use this opportunity to thank members of the fourth estate of the realm-the media, civil societies, labour unions and indeed all Nigerians for their support in these four years and all the invited Guests for adding colour to this occasion. Permit me to also thank the Clerk to the National House of Representatives and all chamber staff. You are indeed our every day living heroes.
19. I also want to specially appreciate our Leaders the Deputy Speaker, House Leader, Chief Whip, Deputy Leader, Minority Leader, Deputy Minority Leader, Minority Whip and Deputy Minority Whip. Thanks to the amazing role you all played. You have a special place in my heart.
20. God bless you all and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.