On Friday May 5, 2017, Barrister at Law and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, received a rousing welcome to his home state of Bauchi.
Ordinarily, a representative’s visit to his constituency shouldn’t attract such fanfare but this wasn’t just usual constituency visit as the Rep was said to have gone on “exile” even though four months prior he was in Bauchi, and always interacts with his people as he often hosts different groups from across the state in Abuja.
The Speaker had remained silent and kept mum for more than one and half years, even in the face of provocation, blackmail, campaign of calumny and calculated attempts to tarnish his reputation as a humble, patriotic, incorruptible and worthy representative of Bauchi state by powers that be in the state. As previously stated, it is not that the Speaker has not been visiting home. For the record, he was in Bauchi last August and December and was billed to go back in April this year, which means that he goes back to give account of his stewardship to the good people of Bogoro/Dass/Tafawa-Balewa Federal Constituency every three to four months.
Readers may recall that very recently the Bauchi state government issued a statement in which they alleged that the Speaker had gone on “exile” and cannot visit his constituency which, to them, amounts to abdication of responsibilities even though they know that he was there just four months ago. In his response, Dogara stated that as a Federal lawmaker, he was elected to work in Abuja and as such he is not supposed to be seen frequently in Bauchi as doing so could be considered dereliction of duty. He further added that as Speaker, he visits Honourable members’ constituencies to help launch their projects and programmes and attend other social events cutting across the 36 states of the Federation, which effectively denies him the luxury of visiting his constituency often. Regrettably however, he said, those who were elected to work in Bauchi are now the ones who are seen more frequently in Abuja, Kano, Lagos and other cities across the country and even foreign lands, meaning that they spend more time outside their place of primary assignment.
Rumours have permeated every nook and cranny of the state that Hon. Dogara cannot visit his home state as he might have been declared persona non grata by the powers that be but to their chagrin, the speaker’s visit was announced well ahead of time in both local and national media to put them on notice that he will be going home on May 5th, and contrary to what had been said, a mammoth crowd had gathered to wait for hours at the Platuea/Bauchi border to welcome their son, and the party continued from one village to another up to Bauchi city.
Usually, it is a 1 hour journey from Jos to Bauchi but it took us almost four hours due to heavy vehicular movement as we stopped over at every 20 to 30 kilometres to greet the thousands of citizens who came out en masse to welcome and cheer their son. Dogara, in company of over 162 Federal MPs, friends and associates, drove straight to Sir AbubakarTafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital where he moved from one ward to another consoling patients who were children, women, young and old.
The Speaker, together with his colleagues settled medical bills of many patients. In April last year, he sent a team of 60 medical doctors, surgeons and nurses to the same hospital where they attended to the medical needs of over 50,000 people from Bauchi, Kano, Jigawa, Plateau, Yobe, Gombe, Adamawa ,Borno and Taraba state for two weeks.
Thereafter, he also went to condole with two Bauchi elders who were bereaved recently, had lunch in Senator Ali Wakili’s residence and visited Senator Suleiman Nazif’s house before proceeding to Tafawa Balewa for the big bash. For want of space, I won’t be able to narrate all but I must say that I couldn’t hold my tears after I saw human walls on both sides of the road stretching over 20 kilometres from Dass who waited for the arrival of their Representative for six hours or more, we learnt.
Very early the next day, precisely on May 6th, the Speaker commissioned a market donated to Bogoro community by a good Samaritan which he facilitated, and then inspected state of work at Government Girls Secondary School Tafawa Balewa where he attracted Federal presence with the total renovation of the school and building and equipping of ultra modern ICT centre among other laudable projects. He was received by hundreds of schoolgirls who were beautifully dressed in their blue and white uniforms. They sang songs of joy on sighting the man who is investing in their future.
The main reception was held in Dass and a sea of human beings flooded the area with some people climbing on top of the beautiful Dass mountains to catch a glimpse of “Dan Amana” as they fondly call him because according to Frieddrich Nietzsche, in the mountains of truth, you never climb in vain. The event at Dass, which was initially meant to flag off construction of four roads that traverse Gombe, Bauchi and Platuea states, turned out to be a major political gathering in the recent history of Bauchi which sent shock waves across the state.
The gathering brought together old friends and foes, and was attended by not fewer than 30,000 people including women and children. It also attracted the presence of big political stalwarts and juggernauts in the state including the immediate past Govenor, Malam Isa Yuguda, Hon Yusuf Tugga, Senator Maikafi, Senator Adamu Gumba, Senator Mohammed Mohammed, scores of retired former permanent secretaries in the state, retired or dethroned traditional rulers numbering about 1000 who were removed by the present government, students, and a number of cultural groups who performed to entertain the guests among others.
Now, one thing that is unique about the road projects is that there were never roads in those places. We drove along the route which will soon become a first class Federal road through the thick forests and bushes for 4 hours, stopping over to address the people who waited since 2pm to meet with their Rep and our journey terminated in Platuea state where the Sarkin Talbushi in Kanam local government of Platuea state, Alhaji Ma’aji Gamna turbaned the Speaker as Maga Yakin Jhar, meaning the chief warrior of Jhar land.
I must admit that of all the dozen villages and towns the Speaker visited commissioning healthcare centres, water and electricity projects, schools including big Almajiri schools he built in Fulani communities; Dull, a community also in Tafawa Balewa local government stood out. We arrived there between 6-7pm and the people especially youths positioned themselves more than 5 kilometres ahead to receive the Speaker. Sarkin Dull, Alhaji Zulkiflu Abdullahi was recently deposed by the Bauchi state government after he refused to go on state radio to read a prepared text attacking Hon Dogara as handed over to him by the chairman of Tafawa Balewa local government, who obviously acted at the behest of Bauchi state government. The chief had said that he will rather be removed than to go against his conscience and his people to attack and blackmail a patriotic and peace-loving leader who attracted projects that will forever change the destiny of his people and their land, especially the road which will link his community to neighbouring Platuea and Taraba states.
The roads are entirely new roads that will open up these communities and link them with other parts of the country across the three states with their total cost or value put at over N50 billion, and the Speaker gave assurance that the road project will be completed within the next two years. He also added that in collaboration with governments of neigbouring states, other road projects will be constructed to ease movement from Bauchi State to their respective states.
“As we flag off this road, we are flagging off the one from Burga in Bauchi to Plateau state. We are flagging another one that will take off from Pankshi into Tarshi and move from Gambar to Sara and then to Mangu in Plateau so that it can connect with Lere road.
“We are not stopping here, we also have the contractor who is charged with the responsibility of doing the road from Bauchi to Gombe in our midst. The road has been awarded. For other parts of Bauchi, the highway that is being built from Kano, that moves into Bauchi North, into Bauchi Central, up to Maiduguri, we are ensuring that it attracts the appropriate funding so that we will finish on time.”
Speaker after speaker, the dignitaries one after the other berated and lampooned those who propagated rumours that the Speaker has gone on exile and showered encomiums on him.
Apparently overwhelmed with joy, the visibly elated Malam Isa Yuguda told the mammoth crowd that it was the first time Federal projects of such magnitude were attracted to Bauchi since the creation of the state and urged the people to keep praying for the Speaker so that he can do more for them.
When it was his turn to speak, Dogara, the orator, didn’t disappoint anyone present. He reminded the people that every solar power street light in the three local governments were his projects. No wonder they also call him “mai solar”, and added that he just completed total renovation of Dass central mosque which he later inspected after the event.
Previously, he had facilitated the construction of the 78 kilometre Bauchi-Tafawa Balewa road with three bridges by the Federal government, which now happens to be the best road with no single pothole in the whole of Bauchi state. This is in addition to scores of primary health care centres, hundreds of blocks of classroom in primary schools, empowerment schemes including in rice farming, cottage industry, transportation, tailoring, training of young people in agriculture in Israel, scholarship schemes for students in tertiary institutions from first degree to PhD level, etc. These are just few works of an “exiled” representative who boldly told his people that “We are real children, we were born and breed here, we grew up here among you, we won’t tell you lies because we have no other place greater than Bauchi.”
Thereafter, the speaker lead over 30,000 of his constituents to offer special interfaith prayers for the health of President Muhammadu Buhari, led by the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Dass Local Goverment, Reverend Kefas Galadima and Sheikh Hamza Dass.
Indeed, if staying in Abuja to work and attract unprecedented number of federal projects by MPs is seen or misinterpreted mischievously in some quarters as going on exile, then not only Bauchi people but Nigerians would rather have them stay put in their places of primary assignment instead of junketing from one city or country to another as is now the norm being practised by their traducers.
Hassan is the Special Adviser on Media & Public Affairs to Speaker Yakubu Dogara