The House of Representatives has produced seven speakers since 1999. These include Salisu Buhari (1999-2000), Ghali Na’Abba (2000-2003), Aminu Masari (2003-2007), Patricia Etteh (2007), Dimeji Bankole (2007-2011), Aminu Tambuwal (2011-2015), and Yakubu Dogara (2015-date).
Several factors led to the emergence of each of them and the complexities surrounding the context have continued to evolve.
Salisu Buhari (PDP, Kano, 1999-2000)
Following Nigeria’s return to civil rule in 1999, Salisu Buhari, then a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from Kano State, became the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The PDP, on whose platform he was elected, had then zoned the office of the country’s Number Four Citizen to the North-West.
Riding on overwhelming popularity and an endorsement of 50 out of 65 Reps-elect from the zone, Buhari was ultimately elected Speaker on June 3, 1999.
However, no sooner was he elected than his University of Toronto scandal, later tagged ‘Torontogate’ was blown open by The NEWS magazine.
Further investigations revealed that Buhari was born in 1970 and not 1963 as he claimed, and that he never attended Toronto University.
Disgraced, Buhari, on Thursday, July 23, 1999, resigned both his leadership and membership of the House of Representatives, leaving behind an ugly legacy of scandals.
Ghali Na’Abba (PDP, Kano, 1999-2003)
Born in Tudun Wada, Kano, in 1958, Ghali Umar Na’Abba was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives after Buhari’s resignation in 1999.
As Speaker, the lawmaker from Kano Municipal Federal constituency, in 2002, issued President Olusegun Obasanjo an ultimatum to either resign or face impeachment.
The chain of events that followed, made his tenure tumultuous, resulting in acrimonious relations between the legislature and the executive.
Na’Abba was suspended from the PDP, and subsequently lost re-election into the House in 2003.
Aminu Masari (PDP, Katsina, 2003-2007)
Masari, now Governor of Katsina State, was the Speaker of the House of Representatives between 2003 and 2007, under PDP’s platform. Unlike Na’Abba’s, Masari’s tenure saw the smoothening of legislative-executive relationships.
In 2011, Masari ran for governor of Katsina State under the platform of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
Patricia Etteh (PDP, Osun, 2007)
In June 2007, Etteh made history as the first and only woman to have been elected Speaker of the country’s House of Representatives. But in September 2007, she was accused of spending over N628 million on renovations of her official residence and that of her deputy, Babangida Ngoroje. She was also alleged to have purchased 12 official cars for the House without due approval. Following pressures, Etteh resigned her position as Speaker on 30 October, 2007, alongside her deputy, Ngoroje.
Dimeji Bankole (PDP, Ogun, 2007-2011)
Following Etteh’s resignation, Dimeji Bankole from Ogun State was elected Speaker on 1 November, 2007, after a brief interlude of interim speaker Terngu Tsegba of the Integrity Group.
Like Buhari, Bankole also had his own measure of scandals. For instance, a week after his emergence, Bankole was said to have skipped the compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). That notwithstanding, the Ogun lawmaker finished his tenure in 2011, with 136 bills, 328 motions and 282 resolutions to the credit of the House, perhaps most prominent of which include the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act and the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
Aminu Tambuwal (PDP/APC, Sokoto, 2011-2015)
Born January 10, 1966, Aminu Tambuwal, the current Sokoto governor, was overwhelmingly elected Speaker of the House in 2011, with Emeka Ihedioha from Imo State as his deputy. His emergence was, however, in clear breach of the then PDP’s zoning arrangement, which had endorsed Mulikat Akande (South West) for the position. In 2014, Tambuwal led a number of other lawmakers to ditch the PDP on whose platform he became Speaker to the newly formed All Progressives Congress (APC), becoming the first Speaker to do so since the Fourth Republic.
Yakubu Dogara (APC/PDP, Bauchi, 2015-date)
Yakubu Dogara, the 52-year-old incumbent Speaker of the House of Representatives, was elected to the position in 2015 under the APC platform. However, the Bauchi-born lawmaker, following Tambuwal’s precedent, left the APC on the eve of the 2019 general elections into the PDP, which he had also dumped in 2014. In the 2019 general elections, Dogara became the only speaker to have won re-election into the Lower Chamber since 1999. It, however, remains to be seen if the University of Jos law graduate would be able to break a subsisting political jinx and retain his seat in the incoming 9th House.
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