By Imran Abdullahi
Since the adoption of Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas, the member representing Zaria Federal Constituency of Kaduna State as the speakership candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for the 10th House, there has been campaign of calumny and outright lies against his person and those that back him.
Tajudeen Abbas, who was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2011 on the platform of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), has made his mark as a silent achiever and a lawmaker par excellence.
Tajudeen Abbas comes from the Zazzau Emirate. In fact, he is a prince from the emirate and holds the tradional title of the Iyan Zazzau. Based on the tradition, he is in line of succession to become the Emir of Zazzau. He had a distinguished career in both public and private sectors before coming to the House.
The Zazzau prince had been a primary school teacher and later became a polytechnic and university lecturer. He was the pioneer head, Department of Accounting and Finance, Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic, Zaria between 1989 and 1993. He also pioneered the Department of Business Administration at the same institution in 2001 before joining the Kaduna State University (KASU), where he established the Department of Accounting as the pioneer HoD in 2005.
Tajudeen Abbas had worked at the Nigerian Tobacco Distribution Company, now British-American Tobacco Company between 1993 and 1996. He quit the academia and joined politics in 2010, where he contested for the House of Reps seat for Zaria Federal Constituency and won. He came into politics well prepared as he had already obtained masters degrees and a PhD in business administration management prior to his first election as a legislator.
His colleagues call him a silent achiever. In the 8th Assembly – between 2015 and 2019 – he held the record of a single member that sponsored the highest number of bills in the entire National Assembly. When he returned to the 9th House – from 2019 to date – Tajudeen Abbas singlehandedly sponsored record breaking 74 bills, out of which 21 were signed into law. Before now, most Nigerians did not know this, because the man remains unassuming. He doesn’t want to attract attention to himself. You can only imagine if it were another lawmaker that achieved this feat.
However, his traducers have been dishing out lies against his person. First, they said he was not known among members of the current 9th House. But that is a blatant lie. How can someone who sponsored 74 bills out of which 21 were signed into law be unknown to his colleagues?
Like a member-elect from Kano State, Aliyu Sani Madaki of NNPP, who is the secretary of the Joint Task – 10th Assembly, said when he appeared on Arise TV’s This Week on Saturday, May 20, anyone that says Tajudeen Abbas is not known to his colleagues after sponsoring 74 bills in a 4-year term, should be questioned, because the person may as well be a truant lawmaker. It is simple.
Sponsoring a bill isn’t a child’s play let alone 74! For a member to get one bill he/she sponsors passed, that lawmaker MUST get the buy-in of his/her colleagues. What this means is that Tajudeen Abbas got the buy-in of most of his colleagues to be able to get his 74 bills introduced and treated by the House. He must have lobbied his colleagues vigorously to get them agree with him on the proposed laws. That process of lobbying alone must have exposed him to the majority of his colleagues.
Again, those sponsoring campaigns of calumny against Tajudeen Abbas said going by his name, he is a Yoruba man. They said the name TAJUDEEN is a Yoruba name, hence the man is Yoruba. In-as-much-as Yoruba people are among the good people in Nigeria and Tajudeen would have wished to be one of them, the truth is, as mentioned earlier, he is a prince from the Zazzau Emirate. He holds the traditional title of Iyan Zazzau. His great-grandfather was an emir in the Zazzau Emirate. He comes from the Mallawa dynasty of the emirate. His mother comes from a village called Dutsen Kura in Malumfashi Local Government of Katsina State.
Additionally, they alleged that Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila ‘hand-picked’ Tajudeen Abbas for ulterior motives. But on May 17, 2023, when the Joint Task – 10th Assembly organized a meeting with all members-elect where the current Speaker addressed the attendees, Nigerians were privileged to know the truth. Gbajabiamila told the world that out of the many aspirants, Abbas was the least closer to him. Besides, he said he only declared support for Abbas based on his party’s decision to zone the speakership to the Northwest and to Abbas in particular. Had APC zoned the position to another geopolitical zone, Gbajabiamila said he would have gone with the party.
Out of the several aspirants from the Northwest, Gbajabiamila said, Tajudeen Abbas stands out as the most competent. He said the House needs a speaker that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with any speakers in the African continent and the world at large. He told a story of how Abbas endeared himself to the members of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Union (CPU) Africa as the treasurer of the body so much so that some of the speakers had cause to reference the Zaria lawmaker to Gbajabiamila as being phenomenal in his legislative dealings.
The agents of lies also sponsored stories on some online platforms and even a few conventional media that the same meeting of May 17 was poorly attended. However, over 170 members-elect attended the meeting with Abbas in attendance. It was learnt that the meeting targeted 180 members-elect that came for the second batch of the induction programme organized by the National Assembly management. What this means is that the remaining 180 members-elect that attended the first batch of the induction programme were not targeted as a similar meeting was held with them on May 9.
Yet another lie was a highly sponsored story that the House leadership received the sum of 15 million dollars from the Executive arm to share to members so as to approve the request of President Muhammadu Buhari to restructure the N22.7 trillion Ways and Means advances taken from the Central Bank of Nigeria. This was targeted at Gbajabiamila to sully his name just because he has declared support for Tajudeen based on APC’s directive.
The House, through its spokesman, Benjamin Kalu, reacted that the allegations are not only false, but also baseless and unfounded.
Kalu, who is the APC candidate for the Deputy Speaker of the 10th House, said in a statement on May 19 that, “Usually, the House would have refrained from dignifying such a report with a response, having faith that all well-intentioned Nigerians would outrightly dismiss it. However, it has become imperative to address the report and the unfounded claims made therein for the benefit of all Nigerians.
“As elected representatives, our decisions and actions are taken in the public interest. It should be recalled that the house had temporarily deferred the approval of the executive’s request following recommendations of the relevant committees of the House, which called for further engagement with the executive in order to facilitate a comprehensive and meticulous analysis and deliberation on public interventions the executive earmarked the said request for.
“We implore the media to exercise restraint and desist from disseminating unfounded allegations that have the potential to tarnish the reputation of public institutions and individuals, particularly during this critical period when lawmakers are deeply engrossed in the political competition for the leadership positions in the impending 10th National Assembly.
“The insinuations and attacks against the person of the Speaker goes to naught as he remains the most forthright, upstanding, and most loved Speaker in our parliamentary history. Any attempt by one or two to plant malicious stories for the unsuspecting public is in futility.”
In all, Tajudeen Abbas’ resume earlier mentioned appears to be what makes them to be afraid of the man. They don’t want to hear that he has sponsored 74 bills and 21 of them were signed into law. They don’t want to hear that he has a PhD. They don’t want to hear that he doesn’t have a single enemy in the House. They don’t want to hear that he is an unassuming human being and a silent achiever. Ultimately, they don’t want to 10th House to have the best as Speaker.
*Imran is resident in piece from Zaria, Kaduna State.