By Katdapba Y Gobum
The entrance of Rt Hon Yusuf Adamu Gagdi into politics may have been providential. For those who know, it was the progressive mentorship he received from Rt Hon Usman Zumunta Musa, (one time Deputy Speaker, Plateau State House of Assembly, now late) in the early years of his sojourn that unlocked his potentials for meaningful contributions to his people, state and indeed nation.
The manner, with which he took his fate headlong, changed the course for the better for the people; who deserve his intervention in various ways over the years. Even if some people did not give him the chance to be impactful on the political turf; it was because some had thought he was young with youthful exuberance. But those who thought in that direction have since been proven wrong.
Having learnt the ropes, he set out to put into practice the art in the general elections of 2011. He lost narrowly to Hon Sadat Garga, the incumbent of the Labour Party (today he is in the same camp with Rt Hon Yusuf Adamu Gagdi) who contested under the Peoples Democratic Party.
However, in 2015, the story changed for good. He beat all comers at the game and won the election to represent Kantana State Constituency in the state House of Assembly. That election was instructive as it became a turning point of his political journey, thanks to the fact that his constituents stuck with him despite the All Progressives Congress wave that swept across states that election year. He won on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Fate smiled on him soon after in the 8th Assembly: He achieved what his mentor had become during the height of his political days in the House of Assembly. He was made the Assembly’s Deputy Speaker, working with his colleagues towards making good laws for the state.
While majority of the people of Kanam local government were APC, they elected to give Yusuf Gagdi the mandate to represent them. They didn’t regret as he gave a good account of himself, in the Assembly. However, before long, he returned to the platform where his heart was: He cross-carpeted to the APC where his people were.
That action didn’t go down well with some members of the House, particularly of his meteoric political ascendancy in the state; but more so for dumping the party that brought him to limelight, they thought he should pay for the ‘sin’ of abandoning them mid-stream. If they thought they reduced him; he turned it to his advantage.
Before long, the musical chairs swung badly against him in the Assembly. He lost the position of Deputy Speaker in circumstances which cannot be explained, as there was nothing established against him by any known committee of the House. But knowing the nature of politics, he took the development with equanimity.
He navigated through several other challenges before the impeachment. Earlier, he resigned from a teaching job, unarguably realizing he would be impactful in the lives of the people if he went into politics. He made no mistake, as his choice proved all doubting Thomases wrong.
His impeachment from the Deputy Speaker’s position in the House soon turned out to him for good. The election turned out to his advantage; thus sending him to the Green Chambers in the National Assembly in Abuja in 2019 to represent Pankshin/Kanke/Kanam Federal Constituency.
But it was not his entrance to the National Assembly that was the news; what became significantly different was his approach to representation. Never in the history of the federal constituency has the communities been blessed than his arrival on the scene; but overcoming all that stood in his way, he was able to change the narrative in more ways than one.
The Gagdi-born parliamentarian understood the nature of what the people wanted and the service to deliver became one to beat in the execution of projects of various nature, empowerment and other initiatives that touch on the essence of the peculiarity of the constituency.
Gagdi showed tenacity and consistency, never choosing who and what community to bless. The empowerment, employment and touching lives in various ways increasingly became a seed in every community, big or small in the 36 federal wards; his presence was felt.
No wonder, his mantra, In God We Trust, became a movement which embraced the critical mass of the society, youth, men and women. They understood Gagdi’s trajectory to offering service to the people. It is little wonder that when it was time to reciprocate the gesture, they chose willingly to be on his side during the 2023 general elections.
The people of the constituency became the better for it, but more importantly, Nigeria benefitted from his work as a member of the Federal House of Representatives. He was blessed to have Speaker Femi Hakeem Gbajabiamila and his colleagues closely working in the areas of good laws.
In the last four years, he became a history maker, setting the record of being the first federal lawmaker in Nigeria since the establishment of the National Assembly experience to have sponsored about 12 private member bills and over eighteen motions. Six of those have received Presidential assent. Some of them include: Police Act 2020, Federal University of Education Pankshin Act 2021, and National Hydrographic Agency Act 2021 among others.
It is no longer news that the race for the Speakership of Nigeria’s House of Representatives has since started. The gladiators for the office are varied with different political backgrounds and antecedence to boot. What we know is that it may not go to the last day before the winner will emerge among the lot.
Several names have been known in the public space to have indicated interest to contest for the office of Speaker, House of Representatives. Some of the returning lawmakers who have indicated interest to step in the shoes of Rt Hon Femi Hakeem Gbajabiamila include the incumbent Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Idris Maje Wase, Rt Hon Yusuf Adamu Gagdi, House Committee Chairman on Navy, who are gearing up for the top job come June 2023.
Interestingly, both of them are from Plateau State in the North Central Zone, while others such as Muktar Betara Aliyu; representing Biu/Kwaya federal constituency of Borno State and Aminu Sani Jaji, a former chairman of the House of Representatives committee on National Security and intelligence in the 8th Assembly who has been reelected to represent Kaura Namoda/Birnin Magaji federal constituency of Zamfara State.
The position as other principal positions is expected to be zoned to various geopolitical areas of the country. The others who have publicly declared interest and are lobbying their colleagues are current spokesperson of the House, Benjamin Okezie Kalu, Tajudeen Abbas, Sada Soli, Princess Mariam Onuoha, Makki Abubakar Yallerman, Abdulrahaman Olawuyi and the House Leader Alhassan Ado Doguwa. However, it should not be forgotten that those who are yet to declare their interest are wooing behind the doors their colleagues and other major stakeholders for support for the project. There may be more contestants.
It will be recalled that when Gagdi debuted in 2019, into the national parliament, he ‘quickly got involved in the internal politics at the time, aligned with the “progressives” camp and eventually became the chairman of Navy Committee, a committee ordinarily would not be given to a first timer. He did not disappoint the House; neither did he fail on the home front, as he gave a good account of his capability while he served’.
It is no longer news, the ‘permutations have commenced over who will be speaker in the 10th Assembly, it has become necessary to draw attention to the need of zoning the position to the North-central as it is the zone that has the least representation on the seat. This will ensure fairness and equity and give all the zones a sense of belonging in the next administration’.
Convinced that his capacities are not in doubt to lead the 10th Assembly, Rt Hon Yusuf Adamu Gagdi has since made his intentions known to his colleagues in the House and major and critical stakeholders who know who is deserving of the office. Those who have an idea of the capacities of Gagdi have been quick to point out his qualities and why he stands in a better stead to be Speaker.
A few Nigerians may recall that it is only the North Central geo-political zone that has had the shortest stint of three months on the position of the Speaker, House of Representatives’. In 1983, during the short-lived second tenure of President Shehu Shagari, Hon Chaha Biam from Benue State was elected and served from October to December 1983. All the other geo-political zones have benefited variously ‘with the return to democracy in 1999 uninterrupted for almost 24 years, has given all the geopolitical zones in the country, the opportunity to produce speakers of the House of Representatives for reasonable number of years except the North-central’.
Speaking of why his zone should be considered for the position, Gagdi has this to say: I’m from the North Central and the region deserves to be Speaker if you are zoning it to Northern Nigeria. It’s only North Central that has not produced Speaker in the past years. North West has done it four times, the names are there. The North Central too has contributed to APC. The six governors in the North Central as it is; all of them are APC except Plateau State. so by the special grace of God, North Central has done its best to the APC and if the party zoned to North Central you will see more robust commitment from my side in ensuring I become Speaker of the 10th Assembly’.
Little wonder, in the last couple of weeks, Rt Hon Yusuf Adamu Gagdi and some of his colleagues supporters have traversed the length and breadth of Nigeria meeting governors, governors-elect and representatives from all political parties that would be inaugurated in the House in June 2023 to explain why he stands as the best candidate who is able to lead the 10th Assembly if given the chance.
It is not surprising that the campaign has gained traction with major power blocks that understand and have keyed into the movement to enthrone him as Nigeria’s Speaker. But beyond that, he made the people of the federal constituency which he represents the center-piece of what he does.
No doubt he has all it takes to lead the House of Representatives as its Speaker. He has the knack for pursuing the common good and also endowed with youthfulness, political ingenuity, tactician, and capable of managing diversity in the system; without injuring the sensibilities of those working with him, even as his cosmopolitan nature speaks well of him wherever he goes.
It is the bridge of goodwill he helped built across the country that is currently working for to his advantage. More importantly, his interests spread beyond the North Central for progress and development; while giving support to all without discrimination, thus dwarfing the records of any who has passed the same road.
Already, Rt Hon Yusuf Adamu Gagdi has made a promise: I want to be a Speaker for the Nigerian people. I don’t want to be a regional Speaker. God willing I will be a Speaker for the Nigerian people irrespective of tribe, religion. I will be saying that my primary responsibility is to add value to the people of the country,
‘The qualities that I will expect from the next Speaker are capacity, sincerity, honesty and commitment. I want to see a just Speaker, one that will protect the interest of the people of all the geopolitical formations in Nigeria irrespective of population and what have you’.
Gobum is a public affairs analyst based in Jos, Plateau State.