‘Young Turks’ was a political reform movement in the early 20th century that consisted of Ottoman exiles, students, civil servants, and army officers.They favoured the replacement of the Ottoman Empire’s absolute monarchy with a constitutional government. Later, their leaders led a rebellion against the absolute rule of Sultan Abdul Hamid II in the 1908 Young Turk Revolution.With this revolution, the ‘Young Turks’ helped to establish the Second Constitutional Era in 1908, ushering in an era of multi-party democracy for the first time in the country’s history. Their revolution has been celebrated as a victory of reformist democracy over tyrannical absolutism.
Similarly in 2011, a fresh generation of young activists and purposeful federal legislators emerged in the 7th House of Representatives with a mindset dedicated to overturning the old discredited order of doing business while setting in motion a result oriented and decidedly populist approach to the critical delivery of democratic dividends to their long suffering constituents.
Their first order of business on inauguration day, June 4, 2011, was the election of their preferred set of House leaders rather than the set handed down by the ruling party leadership or the presidency for that matter. The ‘back benches rebellion’ that saw the emergence of Rt Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal as Speaker and Hon. Emeka Ihedioha as Deputy Speaker was indeed unexpected and a surprise to many political observers as it seemed that the leadership of Rt Hon. Tambuwal’s erstwhile political party, the PDP preferred other candidates, but as it turned out, the overwhelming majority of House members broke with tradition by ardently supporting his candidature and Rt Hon. Waziri Tambuwal was sworn in as House Speaker on the inaugural date by then Clerk to the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa amidst sustained applause from his admirers and supporters both on the floor of the House and in the gallery above.
Indeed the new leadership signaled an increased sensitivity to the yearnings and aspirations of the vast majority of Nigerians by unfolding an ambitious ‘legislative agenda,’ the first of its kind in the history of the National Assembly with its emphasis on legislative activism and democratic populism thus signposting a determined effort at search lighting the various ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) that the National Assembly had the constitutional duty to oversight in order to expose waste, fraud or mismanagement of funds duly appropriated by the National Assembly.
As if by providence, the 7th House had an resolute, resourceful, vibrant and articulate crop of youngish members mostly dedicated to raising the bar of activism, legislation, representation and oversighting to the next level and this eminent team of new generation–Young Turks included Hons Yakubu Dogara, Opeyemi Bamidele, Aliyu Ibrahim Gebi, Sani Legbo Kutigi, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Ibrahim El-Sudi, Patrick Ikhariale, Haruna Manu, Uche Ekwunife, Bethel Amadi, Bassey Eko Ewa, Kyari Gujbawu, Shehu Bawa, Chris Azubogu, Ali Ahmad, Albert Sam-Tsokwa, Sylvester Ogbaga, amongst others.
Indeed the mood among the Young Turks was one of a positively radical and dynamic approach to their duties and functions which would be carried out with all sense of responsibility, dedication and independence without fear or favour to anyone and totally devoid of ethnic, religious, sectional, primordial or partisan inclinations be it of the PDP, the CPC, the ACN or the ANPP, or LP for that matter.
As far as the young populist and activist ‘new frontier’ democrats were concerned, the whole of the country was their constituency rather than any geographical entity. Hon. Aliyu Gebi, the legislative wunderkind from Bauchi State, then Chairman House Committee on Internal Security set the tone for the direction and momentum of the 7th Green Chamber by coining the revolutionary acronym ‘Business Unusual’. According to Hon. Gebi: “As I like to say to everyone that cares to listen, it is no longer business as usual, it is now business unusual, the Speaker is upstairs working, all of us are busy working. Even though this is the recess period we need to address the issue of social injustice which is paramount, the decay of infrastructure in society, the comatose educational system, this is all enshrined in our legislative agenda which is the rational path any government should follow. We will discharge our duties to the best of our ability, to protect our various constituents and defend our greater constituency, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and we will not compromise, we dare not compromise.”
In the spirit of political accommodation and camaraderie, Hon. Dogara joined hands with Rt Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and the entire House leadership in order to move the legislative agenda to the next level even though he, Yakubu Dogara had previously contested the Deputy House Speakership position on the Hon. Mulikat Adeola-Akande Speakership ticket sanctioned by the PDP and the Goodluck Jonathan presidency. However, huge seismic forces were to align and de-align political interests and factions centripetally and centrifugally thus leading to a congregation of progressive forces under the banner of the nascent APC with New Democrats like Hons Aminu Tambuwal, Yakubu Dogara, Aliyu Gebi, Ali Ahmad, and El-Sudi finding themselves under the insurgent APC that threw the gauntlet to the then ruling PDP with the 2015 general elections signposting the dismantling and demystification of the PDP behemoth.
In Bauchi State, the combined intellectual, ideological and activist symmetry of forces by the trio of Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Hon. Aliyu Gebi and Hon. Maitama Tuggar was more than enough to unseat the Mallam Isa Yuguda – led PDP machine thus enthroning Barr. Abdullahi Mohammed as the incumbent governor of Bauchi State. Even though the trio have taken positions of added responsibility at the federal level, Hon. Dogara as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aliyu Gebi as Senior Special Assistant to the Minister of Interior and Hon. Maitama Tugga as Ambassador designate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, no doubt the entire citizenry of Bauchi State will continue to accord them deserved gratitude, commendation and respect for deconstructing the PDP reactionary colossus at it’s apogee of power, prestige and influence.
–Asadu is chairman, Legislative Writers’ Forum