Today, in the Caliphate city of Sokoto, Nigeria's Number Four citizen and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, will be conferred with a honourary doctorate degree by one of the country's premier institutions of higher learning, the Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto (UDUS).
For many Nigerians, the emergence, ability and Tambuwal's foresight in managing the affairs of the lower chamber of the National Assembly has given much hope for optimism. The reason for this is not far-fetched.
As the leader of a vanguard of new breed politicians determined to halt the drift and make the system work, Tambuwal's contribution towards national development and integration is gradually boosting confidence of the people not only in their leaders but in the polity as a whole. The little he has done as Speaker in the last one and half years has increased transparency in governance and made for a better economic management of affairs in Nigeria.
I am sure the authorities of Usman Danfodio University are not oblivious of the effort put by the 7th session of the National Assembly to halt the fallen standard of education in the country. Tambuwal, himself an alumnus of the institution, recently told a gathering of his former school mates that allowing the present state of things in the education sector to continue would lead to catastrophic consequences. He said any country that desires to achieve its maximum potential must take the education of its citizenry seriously.
In the same vein, speaking when he inspected the construction of school infrastructure at the Nigeria-Gambia International School in Banjul, The Gambia last July, Tambuwal made it clear that the future of Nigeria is closely tied to how it handles the education sector. He said while Nigerians have excelled in schools abroad, only a small fraction perform to acceptable standards at home, a situation he said must be changed.
Not only does the Speaker mouth his concerns at what is happening in our schools, he has taken practical steps to ensure he make his mark where necessary. Apart from building school infrastructure from his earnings in some schools in the country, Tambuwal recently gave scholarship to about 20 young girls of an Abuja-based Girl-child education foundation to enable them realize their future dreams of having qualitative education.
Realising the importance of Information and Communication Technology as a tool for socio-political emancipation, the Speaker made it a point of duty to encourage all legislators in Nigeria acquire computer education in order to enhance their lawmaking capabilities. For those in the House of Representatives, becoming computer literate is a mandatory requirement preparatory to the full implementation of the E-parliament component of the House Legislative Agenda. The electronic parliament blueprint seeks to elevate the National Assembly operations to international best practices and ensure public access to parliamentary information and process.
It is not just in his contribution to the education sector that the UDUS authorities found Tambuwal a worthy recipient of their honourary degree. In words and deeds, the Speaker has proven himself adept at providing quality leadership needed to make the necessary impact in the polity.
Of particular reference here was his speech to the extra ordinary session of the House of Representatives in the wake of the bribery allegation against members of the Ad hoc committee that investigated the management of subsidy funds in the country. On that memorable Friday, Tambuwal gave a doughty and inspiring speech, one that matched the occasion and rose to a high level of succinctness and elegance comparable to any speech anywhere.
He proved that when the time and place are right, a leader is often judged not by the rightness or wrongness of what he had to say, but by the dashing jauntiness of his words, the sweet cadence of his expressions, and how effectively the words persuade the heart rather than the head.
As we've seen times without number, Tambuwal has demonstrated courage, intelligence and goodwill towards the Nigerian masses through his actions and commitment regarding issues that affect them. This is no surprise considering his apparent willingness not to be encumbered by the political exigencies that had stunted our progress in the past. For him, what matters is the nation's interest.
The exemplary conduct of Tambuwal as the Speaker of the House of Representatives signifies the end of an era of self-representation, when lawmakers took decisions that were at variance with the wishes of their constituents. Thanks to Tambuwal's leadership credentials, the present House has proven to be what a parliament should be: focused, vibrant, independent and one that gauges the pulse of the nation and works in tandem with the needs and desire of the people.
As he steps out today among his kinsmen in Sokoto to receive his doctorate degree, we can only say congratulations and more grease to your elbow, Mr. Speaker.
Imam is the Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs to Speaker Tambuwal