By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
He’s not given to parliamentary theatrics, those puerile legislative jabs that subtly cloud real lawmaking.
Others certainly do for the reasons best known to them even though it’s not always an easy political safari. Sometimes, they get caught up in the political web of mistrusts that smear and dims their legislative inputs and outputs for a 4 year term.
He is not also given to the loquaciousness of the chamber. He’s also not known as an attention seeking monger. But from what is already commonplace and public knowledge, he’s such a sedulous legislator that knows his onion and so, deliberately launched himself early into the heart of core parliamentary functions: lawmaking, representation and oversight!
Indeed, for anyone who is familiar with the parliamentary system, a whole lot dots the process. It’s such a corrugated, winding and herculean task that must elicit the buy-in of others through lobbying if successful enactment of legislations must be recorded. The truth is, lawmaking has never been a one man show.
From the conceptualization of a bill, to its drafting, the process transverses the whole gamut of first reading, second reading, committee stage, clause-by-clause consideration of the report, third reading to concurrence by the other chamber before completing its journey at the national assembly.
The next stage then, becomes its transmission to the presidency for the presidential assent. Of course, the assents haven’t always come so easy as bills get turned down and returned to the parliament. So, getting a bill passed into law in Nigeria’s bicameral legislature is not a child’s play.
This is narrative that simply captures the legislative trajectories of Hon. Tajudeen Abbas and Hon. Benjamin Kalu, both of whom respectively represent Zaria federal constituency of Kaduna State and Bende federal constituency of Abia State in the House of Representatives.
While many of their colleagues obviously got inebriated in the high wired politics of the House, they got focused on their core mandate, the very essence of their coming to the national parliament. And before anyone could say jack, they had churned out a good number bills just in one legislative term of 4 years, the outgoing 9th National Assembly.
For Abbas, it’s 74 bills just as Kalu has also tucked in 48 in his kitty. Out of Abbas’ 74 bills, 21 had since been assented to and have been integrated into the body of laws of the federation. Ditto Kalu whose 2 bills out of the lot have also been made operational as laws in the country.
Interestingly, both are not landlords like others who have spent decades in the House without some credit and impacts in terms of bills to their names. While Abass debuted in 2011, Kalu, the Spokesmen of the House sobriqueted “Oracle” came to the House only in 2019.
Little wonder both of them were found worthy by the ruling APC to become the speaker and the deputy speaker of the incoming 10th House.
On Sunday, May 21, 2023, Order Paper, Nigeria’s premier, private and independent multi-platform Parliament-focused organization dedicated to reporting, tracking and archiving activities of the Legislature since 2015 honored both men among many of their colleagues, as top performers on productivity index and value and impact on bills sponsorship.
It was learnt that the selection process by Order Paper started long before the 2023 elections, even they never knew their fate in the keenly contested 2023 polls. And the prerequisites for the selection were strictly premised on the legislative feats of the lawmakers.
The team of panelists that conducted the selection had Prof. Ladi Hamalai, a former director general of NILDS, as the head with Prof. Ali Ahmad, a former lawmaker, Ikechukwu Uwanna, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Amos Dunia, Kemi Yesufu as members, while Oke Epia was the convener.
Amongst the 360 members of the House and about 12 lawmakers currently jostling for the speakership position, the duo were distinguished from the crowd and crowed for the coveted offices. That’s huge and remarkable!
In their recent visit to the APC national headquarters in Abuja, solidarity, pious and piety came to Abbas and Kalu, the anointed and favoured. They showed strength with the number of members-elect who have signed on with their candidacies. To hazard a guess, the members-elect were over 250. It was to the extent that many couldn’t find a seat in the large conference room of the National Working Committee (NWC). They were happy standing up while the session lasted.
Yet, to be sure that it was real, the APC national chairman, senator Abdullahi Adamu insisted that every member-elect should introduce themselves individually. And they did. His insistence may not be unconnected with the speculations in some quarters that Abbas doesn’t have any member behind him in the journey and that he was not known amongst his contemporaries.
Adamu was however pleasantly flabbergasted that even the members of PDP, NNPP, LP, APGA were part of the delegation. It took over 30 minutes for the members to complete the introduction.
Then enter the endorsement of the duo by another member-elect, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere. Anyone who knows Ugochinyere, the CUPP spokesman would have, by now, been so familiar with his opposition streaks. Ugochinyere is loud and pungent. His opposition stunts always strike hard and permeates through. So, for him to now queue behind the candidacies of Abbas and Kalu with over 65 other members-elect, it means common sense has finally come to terms with experience, competence and character.
Of course, this is not to mention that long before now, the trio of the majority leader, Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa, Hon. Makki Yalleman and Hon. Abdulraheem Olawuyi had stepped down for Abbas just the same way the quartet of Hon. Julius Ihonvbere, Hon. Waive Francis, Hon. Princess Ononuga and Hon. Abiola Makinde also stepped down for Kalu.
Meanwhile, a peep into Abbas’ profile showed that he was born on October 1st, 1963 in Zaria, Kaduna State. He’s an educationist and business management specialist. In the 8th Assembly (2015-2019), Abass came third in the hierarchy of highest bill sponsors with 43 bills and 13 motions. Though his nomination stirred up the hornet’s nest amongst his colleagues, the final analysis is that his opponents are now coming around to queue behind him.
In the same vein, the deputy speaker nominee is Kalu, a lawyer by training. A former chairman of Bende local government, former two times member of executive council of Abia state, former CEO of an international business organisation, former principal partner of a law firm who also schooled locally and overseas, former team leader in Australia for UNHCR, the Chairman House committee on Media and Public Affairs who apart from bills also had 22 motions with strong resolutions fully activated by the executive, Kalu is believed by his colleagues to be well rounded for the round hole of the deputy speakership position of the 10th assembly. From all conceivable stance, the odds favour them for the positions as June 13, the inauguration day inches closer.