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Flash In The Pan: Politicians Who Left The Stage In Their Prime

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Since the dawn of the Fourth Republic in 1999, some old breed politicians, who were part of the Second and aborted Third Republics, surfaced alongside new breed politicians. Alas! Some of the fresh politicians appeared on the nation’s political stage for few years before fading away. BODE GBADEBO takes a look at the once promising politicians on the national stage, who have gone into near oblivion. Interestingly, they were all former speakers of the House of Representatives.

Salisu Buhari

About 30 year-old Salisu Buhari from Kano State was the first elected Speaker of the House of Representatives in this 4th Republic. He resigned from office few weeks after in 1999 after it was discovered that he forged his university certificate from Toronto University, among other allegations.

He was subsequently convicted for certificate forgery and sentenced to two years in prison with an option of fine. He paid the fine and was later pardoned by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo.

His election as Speaker of the House of Representatives in 1999 placed him in the 4th highest office in Nigeria. However, this only lasted for six weeks as Toronto scandal consumed him.

The news of his age and certificate falsification was first broken by an investigative news magazine after their investigation concluded that Buhari was born in 1970 and not 1963 as he claimed, and also that he did not graduate from Toronto University in Canada.

LEADERSHIP Friday reports that at the time of the incident, Section 65(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria disqualified anyone below the age of 30 from running for membership of the House of Representatives.

Buhari had also claimed that he completed his National Youth Service at Standard Construction in Kano, which was also not true as his name could not be found among who completed the scheme.

The young politician was confronted with multiple allegations about his falsifications, and he promptly responded by proclaiming his innocence and threatening to file a libel lawsuit against the publisher.

Naturally, the scandal led to fever pitch tension in the House, and on Thursday, July 23, 1999, disgraced and cornered, Salisu Buhari faced Nigerians and admitted to falsifying his age and forging certificates as well as other contents of the news report.

He stepped down from the exalted office of the Speaker and resigned his membership of the House of Representatives. He consequently disappeared from the political stage.

About 14 years later, in 2013, he resurfaced briefly when he was appointed into the governing council of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, by the PDP-led Federal Government under President Goodluck Jonathan.

Since then till date, nothing has been heard about Salisu Buhari again at least on the national political stage. It seems he never recovered from the scandal.

 

Ghali Umar Na’Abba

Rt. Hon. Ghali Umar Na’Abba is a businessman, politician and a member of the PDP. He represented the Kano Municipal federal constituency of Kano State from 1999 to 2003 in the House of Representatives at the age of 41.

While in the House of Representatives, he was appointed chairman of the House Appropriations Committee before he was eventually elected Speaker of the House after the unceremonious exit of Salisu Buhari in 1999.

In August 2002, the House gave  the then President Obasanjo an ultimatum to either resign or face impeachment. As the Speaker of the House, Na’Abba said the House would not withdraw the resolution and he was seen as instigating  the impeachment move. It was later reported that Obasanjo gave members of the House inducements to bring charges against Na’Abba.

In September 2002, Na’Abba was called before the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to answer to a 50-page petition alleging gross and unjust enrichment, illegal withdrawals of public funds, extra-budgetary spending and official corruption.

Later, the Senate and the House of Representatives modified the anti-corruption Act, giving Na’abba immunity from prosecution.

He sought re-election in 2003 but a few days before the election, the Kano State chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Yusuf Kutamato, said he had been expelled from the PDP due to “anti-party activities”.

Na’Abba was defeated by the candidate of the then All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP). He denied that he had been suspended from the PDP, and said his defeat was due to a conspiracy between the police, INEC and the state government of Kano.

In December 2005, he formally resigned from the PDP along with other members of the Movement for the Defence of Democracy, including a former national chairman of the party, Audu  Ogbeh and the late AbubakarRimi.

He later joined the defunct Action Congress (AC) party led by former Vice-President AtikuAbubakar.

In January 2006, Na’Abba attended the commissioning of a computer centre constructed by Hon. Farouk AdamuAliyu in Kudu, Jigawa state where a dispute broke out between police and State Security Service (SSS) officers protecting Na’Abbawhen the police refused to let him enter Aliyu’s compound. The police claimed the order was “from above”.

In 2007, the leadership of AC rejected his bid to be their governorship candidate for Kano State. He thereafter returned to the PDP.

In August 2009, Na’Abba was among former and current leaders who established the Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reform Initiative in an attempt to push through reforms to the 1999 constitution, a difficult task requiring 2/3 majority in both chambers of the National Assembly.

However, despite his tall democratic credentials, Na’Abba is rarely seen in public and he seems to have disappeared from the political stage.

 

Patricia Etteh

Hon. Patricia OlubunmiFolukeEtteh from Osun State wasthe first female Speaker of the House of Representatives, a short-lived office she held  from June to October 2007.

Etteh represented Ayedaade/Isokan/Irewole federal constituency of Osun State between 1999 and 2011. She was initially elected in 1999 as an Alliance for Democracy (AD) member, but switched to the PDP when running for re-election in 2003.

She was elected to the position of Speaker unanimously in June 2007, and she is the first and only woman to have held the position in Nigeria’s political history.

It was in the public domain that she was in the hair making business and many believed she was imposed as House speaker by her godfathers. Soon a scandal consumed her speakership.

In September 2007, she faced a committee of the House over accusations that she had authorised the spending of N628 million on renovations of her official residence and that of her deputy, and the purchase of 12 official cars meant for the House of Representatives.

Accusations of theft were chanted at her as she tried to speak in the House, and she was escorted out by securitymen as the situation degenerated into a commotion, though she was not officially indicted.

The PDP officially continued to back Etteh, although some members, such as Isyaku Ibrahim, criticised the party’s stance. Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, was among those who called for her resignation, while former PresidentObasanjo continued to support her.

On October 30, 2007, following weeks of pressure, Etteh resigned her position as Speake alongside her deputy, Hon. BabangidaNguroje.

However, at the end of the 6th session of the House of Representatives, it was agreed that “there is no record or proceedings of the House where Patricia OlubunmiEtteh was ever indicted,” and she was apologised to.

 

Dimeji Bankole

Rt. Hon. Sabur Oladimeji Bankole, from Ogun State, was the 9th Speaker of the House of Representatives.

He was first elected to the House in 2003 to represent Abeokuta South federal constituency and was re-elected in 2007.

Elected Speaker on November 1, 2007 at the age of 37 after the resignation of Etteh in 2007, Bankole was the youngest Speaker in the history of the House.

During his tenure, he had a heated opposition from a group of 11 legislators, calling themselves “The Progressives” and led by Dino Melaye, who called for a probe into allegations that Speaker OladimejiBankole misappropriated N9 billion of an 11 billion budget from 2008 to 2009.He faced fraud trial after leaving office.

Since he completed his tenure in 2011 and lost re-election bid, nothing much has been heard of Bankole  on the national political stage until 2019 when he became  the Ogun State gubernatorial candidate of the little known Action Democratic Party (ADP) and predictably lost.

 

Babangida Nguroje

Hon. Babangida Nguroje is currently the chairman, fo the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) and former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives under Speaker Etteh.

Hon. Nguroje holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Master’s degree in the same field from the University of Maiduguri.

He began his political career at the age of 30 when he was first elected into the House of Representatives to represent Sardauna/Gashaka/Kurmi federal constituency of Taraba State in the 4th National Assembly in 2003.

He was re-elected into the 6th Assembly in 2007 and became the youngest Deputy Speaker at the age of 34.

Apart from his current NIPC engagement and philantrophic deeds, Nguroje is no longer seen on the nation’s political radar.

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