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Fresh air in states as young Speakers take the gavel

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Despite constituting more than 60 per cent of the country’s over 200 million population, Nigerian youths have constantly been left at the periphery as far as governance is concerned.

Not only have they been perennially schemed out and marginalised from governance, previous and current administrations have largely paid scant heed, or remain grossly insensitive to the idea of youth’s inclusiveness in governance. This scenario, of course ensured that this important segment of the society seldom hold sensitive positions, including heading any of the three arms of government.

The clamour for increased youth participation in governance, however, took a different shape in the last three years with the mounting of sustained campaign by proponents of the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign, who ended up pushing forward, the Age Reduction Bill, better known as Not Too Young To Run bill, which was last year passed into law and assented by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The bill was at the behest of the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA Africa).

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Despite signing the bill into law, the Buhari-led government in its first four years was not a model of a youth-friendly government as typified by the Federal Executive Council (where decisions are made), which had no youth member. Even the Minister for Youths and Sports in the outgone cabinet, Solomon Dalung is 54 years old, while the youngest of the 36 outgone ministers was 48-year-old Minister of Justice, Alhaji Abubakar Malami, SAN.

It is against this backdrop that justifiable euphoria has greeted the emergence of at least five Under-40 lawmakers as Speakers of state Houses of Assemblies.

They include 39-year-old Aminu Abdullahi Shagali, Speaker, Kaduna State House of Assembly; Nasiru Magarya (31), Speaker, Zamfara State House of Assembly; Abok Nuhu Ayuba (33), Speaker, Plateau State House of Assembly; Adebo Ogundoyin (32), Speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly, and Salihu Yakubu Danladi (34), Speaker, Kwara State House of Assembly.

Their emergence has equally let out a wave of cautious optimism in the light of the importance of state assemblies to checking the excesses of state executives, who operate as emperors, and always prefer lame-duck assemblies. Hopefully, youth leaders across the country including YIAGI Africa will put these states under close scrutiny.

There are fears that these youthful speakers may regal in their newfound political El Dorado, enjoying the perks of office and be incapable of mustering the required strength to enforce their all-important role of ensuring checks and balances, despite the weak relationship between the executive and legislature, which has stunted growth, undermined democracy and governance in many states, many still believe that youths have the vibrancy to disrupt the prevailing philosophy of public service that is bereft of service to the people.

Already, some of these young legislators have stated their resolve to give their constituents and indeed their states quality representation or better still, a better deal than what they met.

Shagali

I Won’t Fail Kaduna Citizens, Shagali Promises
Thirty-nine year-old Aminu Abdullahi-Shagali got re-elected as the speaker of the current Kaduna State House of Assembly (KSHA), (where he had earlier presided as Speaker between 2015 and 2019), with a promise not fail citizens of the state in passage of bills that would fast-track the state’s progress.

Shagali, who represents Sabongari State Constituency on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and has been in the Assembly since 2011, was to contest for a seat in the House of Representatives in the 2019 presidential and National Assembly polls, but had to drop that bid after Governor Nasir el-Rufai’s intervention. He therefore, re-contested for a seat at the KSHA.

Shagali who enjoys el-Rufai’s confidence and support as a politician, found it easy to reclaim the Speaker’s seat when the 24 APC lawmakers, who more than doubled the 10 from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) threw their weight behind him.

Reliable sources within the Assembly informed The Guardian that various factors were at play, culminating in the endorsement of Alhaji Shagali as Speaker.

“After the four-year tenure, which started in 2015 ended, Shagali’s intention was to go to the House of Representatives, and he picked the appropriate form to enable him contest. But because of the intervention of the governor, he abandoned the idea and picked the form to re-contest election into the House of Assembly, which he won,” a source said.

“The idea of re-contesting was to ensure that he was fielded again for the position of the Speaker because of his performances in his last term, and the cordial relationship that the legislature under his leadership had with the executive,” the source added.

Despite, that Governor el-Rufai succeeded in consolidating the Muslim-Muslim mantra in the executive, he has now replicated it in the legislature.

The immediate past Deputy Speaker, Deacon Nuhu Shadalafia, who is an indigene of Kagarko in Southern Kaduna, nursed the ambition of taking over the speakership from Shagali, but lost to a PDP candidate in Kagarko State Constituency. He is now at the tribunal battling to retrieve his “mandate.”

“The former deputy speaker, Shadalafia is also close to the governor, and has been his associate right from Abuja. I don’t think he will still struggle for the speakership even if the tribunal’s case turns out in his favour. Shagali is the new Speaker and he enjoys the support of Governor el-Rufai too. Shadalafia’s inability to return to the House is what denied the Southern part of the state the opportunity to produce the speaker,” the source added.

Born on February 13, 1980, Shagali is the fifth child of Alhaji Abdullahi Shagali and Hajia Zulaihat Shagali. He attended Bako Zuntu Nursery and Primary School, Zaria (1986–1993), Federal Government College, Daura in Katsina State from 1993–1999, and the Kaduna State Polytechnic, Zaria (now Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic), where he sat for the Interim Joint Matriculation Board examination in 2000.

He studied Political Science at Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, and obtained a master’s degree in Public Administration at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria in 2008.

Some of the notable bills passed under his leadership include, the Child Protection and Welfare Law (2018); Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law (2019); controversial Law on Street Begging and Hawking (2016), and the equally controversial Religious Preaching Regulation Bill 2019; among others.

While delivering his acceptance speech at the Lugard Hall of the Parliament Building, Shagali admitted the enormity of the task ahead of the Assembly, and assured that he will not fail in his assignment, neither would he underperform.

“Let me thank you all for making it possible for me to stand before you here today to give my inaugural and acceptance speech as the Speaker of this august body charged with representation and oversight function over the entire Kaduna State,” he said, adding, “I promise, with your cooperation to discharge my duties with passion, sincerity and integrity.

“My dear colleagues, I am not new to this office, I am well aware of the authority and privileges that come with this office. But, they are inconsequential in comparison to the responsibility of serving and protecting the interest of our constituents and the obligation to live up to their trust.

“I have been privileged to serve in this Assembly in various capacities in the last eight years, in the first instance as the Chairman, House Committee on Science & Technology, and as the Speaker for four years. I can therefore, claim a fairly good knowledge of the challenges facing us as a body, and how to address them.

“Only by working together, we will make Kaduna State move to the next level, with your cooperation, I know, we will.

Ogundoyin

Oyo Assembly Gears For Robust Debates, Good Laws With 32-year-old In Command
The unanimous election of 32-year-old Adebo Ogundoyin as the Speaker of 9th Oyo State House of Assembly, put paid to permutations and speculations regarding who would lead the legislative arm of government.

Ogundoyin from Ibarapa East Constituency emerged unopposed with a unanimous voice vote of the 32-member Assembly. He was first elected to the House in the June 2, 2018 bye-election on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The election was held to fill the vacant seat created by the death of the late Michael Adeyemo, who hailed from the same constituency.

Ogundoyin won the re-election in the March 9, 2019 House of Assembly election to represent his constituency.

Despite his youthful age, party affiliation, “experience” and zoning were some of the factors that worked in his favour.

For instance, the lawmaker is a member of the PDP, which boasts 26 members in the 32-member Assembly. The All Progressives Congress (APC), which lost the state to the PDP, has only five members, and the Action Democratic Party (ADP) has one member.

By convention, the party with the majority produces the Speaker. Hence, the odd favoured the PDP.

Going by the zoning arrangement, the state is divided into five zones – Ibadan, Oke-Ogun, Ogbomoso, Ibarapa and Oyo.

Governor Seyi Makinde hails from Ibadan, while Oke-Ogun zone has produced the Deputy Governor, Rauf Olaniyan.

The fight for the coveted office of speaker was between Ogbomoso, Oyo and Ibarapa zones. Unfortunately, not being members of the PDP worked against the ranking parliamentarians from Oyo and Ogbomoso zones.

Ogundoyin is one of four members that met the house rules to be Speaker (being a returning member and possessing legislative experience) while the other three are Wumi Oladeji, who emerged on the platform of Action Democratic Party (ADP) from Ogbomoso, Oyeleke Adebola and Ashimiyu Alarape (Oyo) are both of the APC.

These factors and support from Governor Makinde were said to have given the 32-year-old an edge over other legislators.

Born on February 18, 1987, the Speaker is one of the sons of the late philanthropist and industrialist, Chief Adeseun Ogundoyin, who hailed from Eruwa. He lost his father in 1991 as a teenager.

The Speaker, who left Vale College in 2003, gained admission into Babcock University, Ilisan-Remo, Ogun State. He is an agronomist and Founder/President, Adeseun Ogundoyin Charity Foundation.

A music manager, who co-managed popular Nigerian pop star, David Adeleke, better known as Davido, the young Ogundoyin is a football lover and a fan of Manchester United FC of England.

With the euphoria that heralded his emergence as number three citizen of the “Pacesetter State,” the epicentre of Yoruba politics, and presiding over the hallowed chamber where the legendary Chief Obafemi Awolowo once oversaw, expectations are high from the youthful leader.

Realising the enormity of responsibility thrust on him, as well as the huge expectations, Ogundoyin in his acceptance speech promised to pass good laws and to represent his people properly.

His words: “Our state has set the pace of new generation leaders by electing me as the youngest Speaker in the history of the state and Nigeria. Politically, Oyo State has always set the pace for good things in Nigeria, and I promise that we, the 9th Assembly will raise the bar of quality representation of the people. Our dream is to make Oyo State House of Assembly a model to others across Nigeria.”

Achieving his dream of making Oyo a truly pacesetter state requires capacity, character and competence.
With his youthfulness, which comes with energy, it is expected that Ogundoyin will bring vibrancy to legislative business, making laws that would impact the youth and the entire citizens.

Many in the state are looking forward to robust debates and deliberations in the days ahead before bills and motions are passed.

They are also looking forward to the deployment of the latest technology in the process of lawmaking, considering that youths are technology-savvy. In addition to that, this will enhance efficiency and ensure productivity in the lawmakers’ assignment.

His network in the entertainment industry, it is also believed, would impact the entertainment sector in the state.

Even though the Child Rights Act 2003 had been domesticated by the state in 2017, and christened the Child Rights Law, there will be room for the law to be strengthened in order for it to provide for, and protect every child in the state.

Shagali

34-Year-Old Freshman Pledges Legislature, Executive Harmony In Kwara
After 34-year-old freshman, Salihu Yakubu-Danladi emerged Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly; he assured the state that the Assembly would justify the confidence reposed in it by the electorate, and work towards engendering robust cooperation with the executive.

He also described his election by other 23 colleagues as their Speaker as “divine,” adding that he would lead the House with the full support of his colleagues to promote policies that would lift the youths out of their present state.

Yakubu-Danladi’s nomination was moved by member representing Ojomu-Balogun Constituency, Saheed Popoola, and seconded by Abdullahi Danbaba, from Kaiama/Kemanji/Wajibe Constituency.

At the inaugural session, the Speaker of the 9th Assembly, who represents Ilesha-Gwanara in Baruten Local Council, after emerging through consensus, said the new lawmakers were determined to work toward bringing government closer to the people, as well as ensure the delivery of dividends of democracy, and initiate people-oriented projects.

He specifically noted that state and the federal governments should adopt participatory budgeting in order to encourage active governance.

Yakubu-Danladiusor, was born on May 31, 1985 in Gwanara, Baruten Local Council. The 34-year-old attended LGEA Primary School, Gwanara from 1988-1993, from where he proceeded to St Anthony Secondary School, Ilorin for his secondary education, at the end of which he obtained his SSCE in 2001.

He later attended the Kaduna Polytechnic, where he obtained his National Diploma and Higher National Diploma in Electrical/Electrical Engineering in 2008.

In 2016, he earned a B.Eng in Electrical/Electronics Engineering from the Federal University of Technology (FUTA) Minna, Niger State. He served his one-year compulsory National Youth Service Corps at the National Water Resources Institute, Kaduna.

Yakubu-Danladi, who was on the staff of his alma mater FUTA, from 2010, voluntarily withdrew his services in 2018.

Before venturing into mainstream politics, he served as the Secretary, National Union of Baruten Students, Kaduna Polytechnic Chapter in the 2005/2006 session.

In 2008, he was a member of the Constitution Review Committee of the National Association of Kwara State Students (NAKSS). He was later elected vice president of Kwara North Students’ Union of the Kaduna Polytechnic Chapter in 2007/2008 session.

In the 2007/2008 session, he also served as the Secretary of the Kaduna Polytechnic Chapter of the National Association of Kwara State Students.

In 2011, he was the youth coordinator of Buhari Campaign Organisation under Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Kwara North Senatorial District.

Also, in 2015, he was the youth coordinator for Yinusa Yahaya Campaign Organisation on the platform of the PDP in Kwara North Senatorial District.

He was the Secretary NYSC Tourism Club, Kaduna from 2009-2010.

In February 2019, he contested and won election as member, House of Assembly representing Ilesha/Gwanara Constituency on the platform of the APC.

Yakubu-Danladi’s antecedents as a student union leader, many believe could come in handy or serve as the much-needed catalyst for the prompt resuscitation of the age-long moribund bursary and scholarships schemes for Kwaran students.

Danladi a football enthusiast may also be in support of policies geared towards reviving youths’ interest in sports in the state.

The Speaker apart from holding positions as a youth leader has not held any political post at such high level prior to his election.

How he steers the legislature in a state that has many political bigwigs, as well as home of the Saraki political dynasty remains to be seen.

According to an elder of the APC in the state, Dr. Rex Kola Olawoye, “Danladi has the intellectual capability if you look at his curriculum vitae, but I don’t think he’s held such high leadership role in politics before now. ”

Plateau: ‘Greenhorn’ In The Saddle, Assures Of Closing Rank With Judiciary, Executive
Since the return of democracy in 1999, the Plateau State House of Assembly has not had a speaker as young as the incumbent, Abok Nuhu Ayuba, who got in the saddle on June 10, after a unanimous vote by lawmakers.

Born in 1986 and from Jos East, Ayuba holds a diploma in law from the University of Jos. Before his emergence, he was a businessman, having gone into small-scale business, as well as pursuing a law degree in UNIJOS.

His emergence as Speaker was intriguing, as well as interesting, as he was nominated by a three-term member and very experienced lawmaker, Mr. Ibrahim Baba Hassan representing Jos North-North Constituency, and seconded by a first-time legislator and the only female in the House, Mrs. Esther Simi Dusu, representing Jos North-West. Ayuba defeated the former Speaker, Peter Azi.

Ayuba, currently in his final year at Unijos was unanimously adopted and voted for by all in what many now said was an arranged election.

In his acceptance speech, Ayuba promised not to discriminate against members based on party line, but respect their opinion, views and positions. He is of the APC.

He promised to work towards establishing a cordial relationship with both the executive and judicial arms of government, while promising to operate an open door policy.

However, some analysts doubt the capacity of the new Speaker to bring anything great to the table, while tongue-lashing the APC caucus for jettisoning experience in preference for “a man who has never held any political office or appointment before.”

According to one of the analysts, “Ayuba is not experienced in legislation. We know, he is studying law in the university. Whatever he must have learnt about separation of powers and how bills are passed and so on are all theories. This is where the practical is needed. And for him to learn the rope, it will take much time.”

Magarya Vows Return Of Peace To Banditry-ravaged Zamfara
Ironically, Zamfara State, which is today a beneficiary of the Age Reduction Act, was one of the three states that failed to endorse the bill, when it went out to state Houses of Assemblies. The others states are Lagos and Kano.

That notwithstanding, 31-year-old Nasiru Mu’azu Magarya now has the gavel in his hand and ready for legislative duties in Gusau.

No thanks to APC’s pre-2019 election indiscretion, which handed Zamfara PDP massive victory on a platter of gold.

The emergence of Magarya representing Zurmi West State Constituency as the sixth Speaker of the state, however, shocked many political analysts in the state.

Magarya was unanimously elected by 23 members of the 24-man Assembly, which consists 23 PDP members and a member of the National Rescue Movement.

Although, there was no physical opposition during the election process, some members, particularly a group of old members are not happy with Magarya’s emergence due to so many factors, including his lack of capacity/experience, and what they refer to as his poor understanding of the political environment in the state.

However, the idea of zoning political positions to different geo-political zones of the state is what actually paved way for the emergence of the youngest Speaker in the history of Zamfara State House of Assembly.

Zamfara State has 14 local councils, with three senatorial zones; 7 federal constituencies, and 147 political wards, and all of these were taken into account in arriving at the choice of a Speaker, especially since neither the governor nor his deputy hails from Magarya’s senatorial zone (Zamfara North).

In addition to that, Zurmi Local Council did not produce a senator or member of the House of Representatives representing Shinkafi/Zurmi Federal Constituency). Zurmi Local Council has two members at the state House of Assembly- Salihu Zurmi – Zurmi East Constituency, and the Speaker.

The executive arm was alleged not to be comfortable with Zurmi, the other member to hand him the juicy job despite his vast experience in governance and lawmaking.

Checks by The Guardian indicate that about 11 members of the 6th Assembly representing 46 per cent of the entire members are bachelors. Once Magarya got the endorsement of 11 young members, who unanimously adopted him, it wasn’t such a difficult thing for him to coast to victory, especially given other factors that were in his favour.

Within the fold, some returning members, who consider themselves better qualified and experienced to lead the 6th Assembly are also kicking and grumbling over the choice that they are stuck with.

Magarya, who was born in Magarya Village of Zurmi Local Council of the state, attended Magarya Primary School, proceeded to Government Secondary School, Kaura Namoda, and thereafter moved to the Zamfara State College of Health and Sciences, Tsafe, and the School of Hygiene, Kano.

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Prior to his vying to represent his people, Magarya worked with a primary healthcare centre, and General Hopsital, Moriki. Apart from being a civil servant, he also operated small businesses in Katsina, Katsina State, where he reportedly ran a chemist shop.

With this background, some see him as ill qualified to lead the legislature in a state that is experiencing a fair dose of security challenges.

However, in his acceptance speech, he thanked members for choosing him to lead, and expressed the hope that “the unimaginable success of our party that came through the Supreme Court verdict will ginger us to steer the affairs of the state, as mandated by the downtrodden masses.”

While noting that his emergence was not because “I am the best among us, but for our sheer determination and resolve to contribute our own quota to the development of our dear state,” he urged them to brace up for challenging and difficult tasks “considering the enormous security challenges bedeviling nooks and crannies of the state.”

He promised that the Assembly in its first session would come up with robust legislations that would tackle the worrisome security situation head-on.

Even though the Assembly comprises largely of youths, the Speaker assured the state governor and the citizenry that members were ever ready to give quality representation to their constituents.

He equally appealed to the governor to urgently address the deplorable state of facilities in the Assembly in order to ease their assignment.

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