Reps leadership: Doguwa’s ridiculous requirement


In his obviously frantic and desperate bid to become the Speaker of the 10th House of Representatives in the incoming dispensation after the swearing in of the president-elect, Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on May 29, Alhassan Ado Doguwa, the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, has been making appeals to his colleagues and trying to woo the larger Nigerian public. In a recent speech, he invited anyone who would doubt his suitability for the Green Chamber top job to kindly note that he had successfully managed a home comprising four wives and 28 children. His words: “Even as Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, I did not exhibit any high temperament. For those who refer to me as a high-level temperamental person, they have misconceived Ado Doguwa, the man who has four wives and 28 children. I have never had a divorce. That shows I have what it takes to excel as the next Speaker. I will be a carpet for Nigerians to march or walk on.”

Apparently, Doguwa thinks that he is eminently qualified for the speakership position and is leaving no stone unturned in persuading naysayers to queue up behind him. And to be sure, we do not begrudge him his large family. It is within his rights to have any number of wives he may choose to have in line with the Islamic faith to which he subscribes, provided that he is able to adequately cater for them. It is also worthy of note that as an African, Doguwa has only embraced a tradition that has endured for ages, warts and all. Besides, in a country where, perhaps as a result of the corrosive influences of modernity, however loosely defined, divorce is increasingly a fad, keeping a marriage and not seeking divorce at the drop of a hat is actually something to be proud of. However, the tragedy of Doguwa’s statement is that it elevates extraneous credentials to the core of the drive for speakership and hence makes total mockery of the position to which he aspires; the Green Chamber, and the legislature as a whole.

It really boggles the mind that Doguwa believes that his harem of four wives and 28 children is what qualities him to lead the lower legislative chamber. Is he really suggesting that those colleagues of his who have moderate families are not qualified for the Green Chamber leadership? Why is he not talking about competence, legislative experience, a sterling performance record, educational qualification, integrity and ability to unite lawmakers across party lines? How did the business of governance come to this ridiculously low and precipitous level? Are we talking about the same House of Representatives that was in those halcyon days of yore occupied by the likes of the late Anthony Enahoro and many other great nationalists who left indelible imprints on the sands of time? Doguwa’s appeal is a laughable rendition that says much about what values those elected into high political offices in Nigeria really treasure. Nothing is said, to be sure, about how he came to the conclusion that he had been managing his home well even as he did not present any evidence to back up his claim beyond the fact that he still has all his four wives under his roof and his children have not been noted for any public nuisance. As far as he is concerned, what qualifies anyone for high office is managing multiple wives and children, which suggests that he would strive to increase the number in his house were he to desire even higher political offices in future. This is the ridiculous level that leadership and governance have descended to in the country. It is a disreputable qualification.

Besides, it is distressing that a lawmaker who is currently facing charges of criminal conspiracy, culpable homicide, unlawful possession of a firearm, mischief, and public disturbance has shown no evidence of sobriety in his actions. Speaking specifically on this matter, Doguwa said inter alia: “I want my colleagues and Nigerians to join me in prayers, so that by God’s grace, we will get to know the truth of the matter. At one point, I was distressed knowing that a guilty man with a case like this would not have gone for a supplementary election and won the way and manner that I did”. This is, to say the least, bizarre. It is true that according to Nigerian law, every suspect is presumed innocent until found guilty by a competent court of law. Having not yet been convicted of any crime, Doguwa is entitled to the protections afforded Nigerian citizens undergoing trial. However, the fact that he is being prosecuted raises the possibility of eventual conviction, and so Nigerians would be right to expect some sobriety in his actions and public utterances, if only out of respect for the legal system. Indeed, the fact that human life is involved in the episode about which he is under trial raises certain ethical issues. In this regard, we assert unequivocally that respect for the dead would have caused him to be mindful of his utterances. But that is categorically what he has neglected or refused to do, and it says a lot about his character.

With the previous pardon granted some politicians convicted of monumental corruption and serving jail terms, it is no surprise that Nigerian politicians and public office-holders like Doguwa treat the Nigerian public with contempt. In any case, just how could there ever be any impetus towards sobriety when the fact of a murder trial does not even seem to have counted against him in the estimation of his colleagues and he is seeking the higher office of Speaker? We think that people like Doguwa are pushing the envelope, believing that whatever they do and however they behave cannot have any effect on their quest for political offices. We hope that going forward, Nigerians will demand real accountability from political office holders.

(Nigerian Tribune Editorial of Thursday, May 11, 2023)

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