Saturday, 23rd September 2023

Speakership: Why Sada Soli desires to lead the green chamber

By Usman Abdulrahman Jajiri
30 April 2023   |   2:43 am
Democracy is a system that thrives on charm and chicanery and does not always throw up the best people for leadership positions. In order to win elections in Nigeria and elsewhere, you must be willing to suffer fools, make promises you do not plan to keep and hobnob with the very people...

Sada Soli

Democracy is a system that thrives on charm and chicanery and does not always throw up the best people for leadership positions. In order to win elections in Nigeria and elsewhere, you must be willing to suffer fools, make promises you do not plan to keep and hobnob with the very people that created the problems you were sworn to solve in the first place. All is fair in love and war, they say, and in politics too, apparently.

To give it a veneer of respectability, they speak of the game of politics, a game without the proverbial level playing field, one in which the goal posts may change, the umpire is less than impartial, and the rules differ for different candidates. But the goal is always the same: the acquisition of power.

What is not the same is the reason people want power. In most cases, it is for personal aggrandizement, or to shore up egos, or just the sickening need to lord it over others. In most cases, the welfare of the people does not factor into the equation at all, and the vast majority of those who seek to govern are scratching some itch that had nothing to do with our problems.

Yet there are some people, fewer than we need, who strive to navigate the murky waters of politics mainly because they want to pull others to shore, to use whatever comparative advantage they have in intelligence, education or willpower, to gain access to the commonwealth, so they could share it more equitably – hoping that the people they want to represent to see the difference between them and others, between their good intentions and the vile ambition of their opponents.

Often, they lose of course, because as one wise Taiwanese diplomat once said, you cannot catch fish in clean water. Yet, once in a while some of them do win, either because of their tenacity or because their good intention communicated itself too powerfully to be ignored.

In the race for the leadership of the 10th Assembly, there is already a frenzy of interest and a plethora of permutations going on. There is talk of religious balancing, of zoning and compensations and alignments. No one is having the conversation on competence. Yet it is a conversation worth having, if only because the legislature is the closest arm of government to the people, the one which approximates the original system of governance in Athens and thus the one whose well-being signifies a virile democratic culture.

With all the horse trading going on, it is easy to lose sight of what the position of presiding officers of the Senate and the House of Representatives represent.
As the country grapples with poverty and inflation, primordial divisions exacerbated by the last elections and deficit infrastructure, the leaders of the National Assembly must be people with adequate intellectual capacity and moral probity.

The House of Representatives is particularly dicey. With 360 members representing different regions, and more opposition party members than ruling party members, it is going to require a leadership that is experienced in administration and diplomacy.

There are many candidates for the post, but one name that is becoming resonant is that of Hon. Sada Soli. His credentials are staggering, his morals unimpeachable, his administrative acumen and knowledge of the law making process is first rate. For 14 years, Soli has worked as a civil servant in the National Assembly, clerking for the Senate and House committees of foreign affairs, National Planning, and National Security and Intelligence. For four years he worked with the Prof Jibril Aminu at the Nigerian embassy in Washington as his Special Assistant and Minister Counselor in a special dispensation that was granted by President Olusegun Obasanjo.

He left the civil service to join politics following the leadership recruitment drive of the late President Umar Musa Yar’ Adua and has represented the Jibia/Kaita federal constituency, winning election for a third term last February. Indubitably, his tenure as a member of the House of Representatives has been successful and he had contributed enormously to motions and bills on sundry national issues, including security, the power sector – where he moved a motion for the declaration of a state of emergency in the sector – education and the economy, including the motion to review the Naira redesign policy, which was inefficient and ineffective.

He had visited legislative assemblies across the globe, learning how they operate and becoming even more proficient in the workings of national legislatures. Without a doubt, he has a strong understanding of the mechanics of law making and committee work, or the opportunities available for using the legislature to improve the welfare of citizens.

Recently, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila was heard to say that there are three things required for the job: competence, competence, and competence and that Sada has them in spades.

The President-elect, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu has campaigned on the mantle of competence and how it is the overriding factor in the choice of candidates for office in his administration. He had defended this at great risks and expended huge political capital in the process, especially after choosing Senator Kashim Shettima as his running mate. But the Jagaban, whose political savvy has now reached legendary status, went on to win his election, proving that he is both a man who knows what he wants and has the chutzpah to go ahead with his plans whatever the huddles once he is confident that it is right.

One hopes that in the same measure, the president-elect and his vice, together with the party, will be making this factor the main point in their deliberations. More important, members of the House who actually have the voting power to elect their leaders must realize that they must elect someone with the capacity and the organizational discipline to provide them with all the tools they need to perform optimally.
Members must push for the type of leadership that will enable them to do their jobs creditably and increase their chances of returning.
• Jajiri wrote in from Sabon Layi, Katsina State

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