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National Assembly: The need for the right leadership

The National Assembly, comprising the Senate and House of Representatives, is a fundamental institution in the democratic structure of Nigeria. Over the years in our…

The National Assembly, comprising the Senate and House of Representatives, is a fundamental institution in the democratic structure of Nigeria. Over the years in our democratic journey, the assembly has been very pivotal in the passage of laws and oversight functions of the implementation processes.

And over the years, Nigerians have gradually appreciated and understood the significance of the two houses in the democratic journey in the country. This has been reflected in the interest Nigerians have developed in the election of individuals to the National Assembly and especially those who will be eventually elected to lead the two chambers of the National Assembly.

The 2023 general elections have produced another set of members in the National Assembly. These are persons whose constituents deem fit and fully capacitated to represent their interests.

The next pivotal step will be to determine the leadership of the houses come June 2023 when the National Assembly convenes for the 10th session. As the 10th Senate and House commence, every Nigerian, including elected members, should be interested in those who become the leaders of the two chambers. Capacity, experience, competence, pedigree and organisational abilities should be paramount as determining factors in selecting the leaders of the houses.

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In the House of Representatives, with members much closer to the people, there are a lot of individuals who have indicated interest in taking over from Femi Gbajabiamila, the outgoing speaker. These eminent individuals have various selling points and records to show that over the years they have represented their people whether in the house or at other levels of leadership.

However, one individual that stands out is Honourable Muktar Aliyu Betara, a member elected by his constituents for the 5th term into the Hallowed Green Chamber of the National Assembly. Betara, as he is fondly called by friends, colleagues and well-wishers, was trained in Accounting and Business Administration and has been representing the good people of Biu/Kwaya Kusar/Bayo/Shani Federal constituency in Borno State.

The lawmaker, over the years, has been a loyal party man who always contributes to the progress of the party and the resolution of issues that come up periodically. Betara is known to be a team player and a good bridge builder.

In the 9th Assembly, Honourable Betara served as the Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, a very sensitive and structurally pivotal committee, whose leadership is given to the most experienced and trusted member of the House. The 56-year-old federal lawmaker has served in the public service for about 20 years (1986-2006), in DFFRI and NITEL, before voluntarily leaving for active politics.

Since joining politics, the enigmatic and quintessential politician has grown from strength to strength due largely to his political sagacity, organisational skills and capacity in delivering real democracy dividends to his constituency and beyond.

His sojourn in the House since 2007 has seen him serve as Chairman of the Sub-committee on NDIC, Banking and Currency, member, House Committee on Interior and Chairman Sub-Committee on Customs, Immigrations and Prisons Pension Office (CIPPO). From 2015 to 2019, Betara served as Chairman of the House Committee on Defence. Prior to that, he was the House Committee Chairman on the Army.

As Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations since the commencement of the 9th Assembly, the lawmaker has been central to the passage of appropriations and the Finance Act 2022. This has ensured the January to December budget circle.

It is therefore very pertinent to note that for the sustenance of the gains in our democratic journey, Nigeria needs individuals with political grit, legislative experience and capacity to take the mantle of leadership. So long as we desire to grow our democracy, this path is the most appropriate and Honourable Betara has those sterling qualities.

Aside from his legislative experience and the projects he has initiated and supported in his constituency and beyond, Betara is known to be a pan-Nigerian. The people in his circle as well as his staff, who are mainly outside his constituency, are a testament to this fact.

The call is also to the party leadership in APC, PDP, Labour, YPP, SDP, APGA and all other political parties with representation in the house. The call is also to ordinary Nigerians who should understand that with Betara in the speaker’s seat, a lot of progress in the art of legislation will occur. His antecedents have been seen. And at this critical point in our democratic history, we need capacity, competence, experience and positive pedigree in our political leaders – qualities that are reflected in the life and works of Honourable Muktar Aliyu Betara.

The legislative experience of Betara is required to ensure successful collaboration between the Executive and the Legislature, while also guaranteeing the independence of the House. The Mutual respect between him and his colleagues is the tonic and major ingredient for a successful speakership. Betara is better placed to do that based on his antecedents. So as members are getting ready to vote, they should vote right.


Aishatu Ibrahim wrote from Abuja

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