Just Before The Clock Rings; A Call On The Conscience Of Nigeria’s Senators-elect
The 7th National Assembly of the nation of Nigeria will be constitutionally terminated on 6th June while the 8th National Assembly would be proclaimed same day with members electing their Principal officers.
Two returning members of the senate chamber have declared their intention to run for the presidency of the senate a position that is constitutionally recognized as the number three in the hierarchy of public service in our country.
The two Aspirants are Senator Ahmad Lawan, a seasoned academician and politician from Yobe State, North East, Nigeria and Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, a trained Medical Doctor turned Banker from Ilorin, Kwara State North Central Nigeria.
Both Saraki and Lawan are tested public servants. They are gentle men who have fought many political battles and triumphed. Saraki was a two term Governor of Kwara State. He was elected Senator in 2011 and re-elected during the just concluded general elections. He’s a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Lawan on his part has been a member of the National Assembly since 1999. He was at the lower chamber from 1999 to 2007. He was elected Senator in 2007 to represent the good people of Yobe North. As I write, Lawan is the most experienced Senator on the platform of the APC.
For the records, let me declare unequivocally that if integrity, loyalty to the common people, sincerity of purpose, consistency, experience and above all, humility are essential ingredients that qualifies people for public positions, then, Senator Ahmad Lawan from Yobe North should be the next Senate President of Nigeria.
However, in terms of competence and educational experience, both Senators Ahmad Lawan and Bukola Saraki are eminently qualified for the number three position. Saraki is a trained Medical Doctor while Lawan is a Doctorate Degree Holder.
Saraki displayed exceptional competence when he held the insignia of power in Kwara State. Saraki’s feats in agriculture and infrastructural sectors remains benchmark in the state till date. He also showed competence when he led the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) for two years. From a relatively unknown organization, Saraki catapulted NGF to virile pressure group.
However, I want to say expressly that there’s more to leadership than competence and academic qualifications. Leadership entails character, sincerity of purpose, integrity, honesty, perseverance and consistency.
Aside competence and academic qualifications, anybody that is to be bestowed with leadership position must be consistent in ideas and ideology, honest in mind and with the people and must be a man of incontestable character.
Dear Senators-elect, I say that if you are to consider the following essential qualities, I am of the opinion that Senator Ahmad Lawan deserves Senate Presidency and not Senator Saraki.
Today, the Nation of Nigeria is in dire need of characters embedded with consistent ideas and ideology. It is on record that Senator Lawan has never left the opposition since the commencement of fourth republic in 1999 while Saraki started the politics of 4th republic on the platform of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP). Saraki defected to the then ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in 2002. He defected to the APC in 2014.
Despite the hi-tech harassment of opposition figures with cash and landed properties in National Assembly to support PDP's third term agenda in 2006, Lawan remained unshakable. He voted against the unconstitutional move of the cabal.
Also, Lawan was one of the National Assembly members that mobilized Nigerians to the streets to demand for the where about of our late President, Umoru Musa Yar’adua in 2009. It is on record that Senator Bukola Saraki was the leader of NGF that the Yar’adua cabal used to wheedle Nigerians on the health status of Yar’adua.
Furthermore, it is expected that anybody who will lead the National Assembly must be a man with a clean record. Thus, I opine that Senator Saraki has not cleared his name on the allegation slammed against him by the Managing Director of the defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc Erastus Akingbola
on the allegation raised by Akingbola that his refusal to allow the defunct Society Generale Bank owned by the Saraki family to merge with the defunct Intercontinental Bank made CBN sacks him.
It is also on record that Saraki’s case file at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has not been closed. Saraki has not been cleared by EFCC and the Office of Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).
Conversely, I can state without any fear of contradiction that Senator Lawan has never been a guest of any security formation in Nigeria either for terrorism or fraud. Lawan is a man of impeccable character who has displayed exemplary qualities in leadership positions.
Born into the family of Late Mallam Ibrahim and Hajia Halima Lawan in Gashua on the 12th of January, 1959 , Mr. Senator commenced his formal education at Sabon Gari Primary School, Gashua , in 1967 and proceeded to Government Secondary School, Gashua in 1974. In January, 1980, he gained admission into the University of Maiduguri, Borno State to undertake a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geography. Upon graduation in 1984, he proceeded to Benue State to serve his country forthe mandatory National Youth Service Programme (NYSC).
Lawan’s love with the academia took him to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1989 where he bagged a postgraduate diploma in Land Survey before proceeding to Cranfield University, United Kingdom where he obtained both Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees in Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing in 1991 and 1996 respectively.
While in the House of Representatives, Lawan served in various capacities, including: Deputy Chairman, Committee on Environment; Deputy Chairman, Committee on Gas Resources; Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture; Chairman, House Committee on Education; and representative for the House of Representatives in the Joint Parliamentary Assembly, ACP/EU.
In the Sixth Senate, he served as: Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts; Member, Constitutional Review Committee; President, West African Association of Public Accounts Committees (WAAPAC); and a member of five other standing Committees of the Senate.
In the Seventh Senate, he was re-appointed as Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts and also appointed Chairman, Ad-Hoc Committee to Investigate the Privatisation and Commercialisation Activities of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) from 1999 to 2011. A task he discharged patriotically and excellently well without any controversy.
In his illustrious career as a scholar, educationist, philanthropist and politician, Senator Lawan has immensely impacted on the lives of many a people, and this multifaceted impact he has had on people’s lives has fetched him enormous plaudits among his peers and those he has generously served.
His selfless service has also earned him the following awards: National Honours Award of the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON); Fellow of the Institute for Government Research and Leadership Technology (2012); Best Senator in 2011 by Baseline Global Ventures; and the Sardauna Legendary Pillar of Exemplary Leadership Award by Leadership and Role Model Foundation of Nigeria.
In conclusion, it is very germane that I acknowledge that Lawan’s geo-political zone, the North East Except for Late Alhaji Tafawa Balewa ( Prime Minister ) has never been accorded the privilege of producing the President, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives since 1960 independence. Saraki’s North central zone has been occupying the position of Senate Presidency severally . Therefore, as our incoming senators’ votes on June 9th , I call on them to be guided by their conscience. They should vote for fairness, equity, consistency, integrity and sincerity of purpose which is the attributes Senator Ahmad Lawan possesses than Senator Bukola Saraki.
Saka Kikelomo writes from Osogbo, Osun State.