…says ‘Northern Muslims backed my emergence’as speaker’
By Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has said those plotting and fighting for the dismemberment of Nigeria were bound to fail, noting God didn’t make a mistake in bringing the various ethnic groups together in one country.
Dogara spoke during a reception organised by Northern Nigeria Christian Politicians to honour him and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal, in Abuja weekend.
The speaker, in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media & Public Affairs, Turaki Hassan, advised those plotting the disintegration of the Nigerian state to have a rethink because their mission was bound to fail.
He said: “ For some of us who think Nigeria was a mistake, or that the North, having aggregated so many ethnic groups, and then two dominant force is a mistake, I want to advice us to do a rethink. “
“The one who put together Nigeria and the North is God and He has the mandate. And anybody who is fighting for the disintegration of this country will not succeed because I believe that God has a plan for Nigeria and l believe God has a plan for northern Nigeria.
“Until God is done with his plan, the north will remain as it is and Nigeria will remain as it is. If anyone can upturn that, it means he is greater than God.”
Northern Muslims supported me
Dogara also urged northern Christians to embrace their Muslim counterparts because of the former’s extension of olive branch as exemplified by the prominent role played by Muslim leaders in his emergence as speaker and the appointment of Babachir David Lawal as the SGF by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He informed the gathering that there was no way he would have emerged speaker, if northern Muslims did not support and vote for him.
Dogara said his emergence as speaker and the appointment of Mr. Lawal as SGF were pointers to the new thinking and resolve to return to the good legacies of Sardauna of Sokoto, the late Premier of northern
Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello, who elevated prominent northern Christians to top government positions which helped in uniting the various peoples of the region.
“Now, talking about interfaith in the North, what we are celebrating today, you know who the President is, and we know what he has done for our brother (Babachir Lawal) . In my own case, the emergence we are celebrating today, I want to thank God for Senator Zwingina who made this very wonderful remark that there are wonderful Muslims.
“There are those who sincerely believe that the Christian community in the North deserve more among our Muslim brothers and I can tell you this, without that thinking, there is no way that I would have been standing here as the speaker of the House of Representatives.
“There are those who said look, time has come for the North to go back to those days of Sardauna where those who call themselves, or are referred to as the core North will deliberately fashion out ways of compensating their brothers, Christians, in the North.
“It may interest you to know that that school of thought, obviously, I won’t mention everyone, but I will mention a few. We got serious support from the present governor of Sokoto State, from the governor of Zamfara State, from people like Senator Wammako, Senator Ahmed Yerima, from people like Hon. Kawu Sumaila who, really, in spite of
the fact that they had invested so much capital in building political networks and connections, decided to go against this networks to ensure that this position is given to a Christian from the North.
“It may interest you to know that in Sokoto State, we lost only two votes. If all the members only from Sokoto State had decided to vote for my opponent, there is no way we would have won that election. And in Zamfara, we lost one vote.
“What does that speak to us? That means there is an invitation to us as Christians to go back to our old ways. What ways? When we used to work together, we used to live together and it is only through that way that we can live in peace, which is a key ingredient for development. “
The speaker expressed appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing “one of our own as Secretary to Government of the Federation.
‘’Those who know the inner workings of government would know that that position combines many ministers together. And for us as a community, at least in my own lifetime, I don’t know what the elders have seen, I can say this is the first time a northern Christian is holding that position.
“Without peace, we cannot even practice our religion. And as long as we don’t enjoy peace in our region, there is no way we will experience development because even if we are developed, lack of peace will
destroy it. Syria is a case in point. So that is the challenge before us. As they open their arms to embrace us, we should also open our arms to embrace them so that we can write a new political history.”