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Tributes as ex-Speaker Ghali Na’Abba is buried in Kano

Nigeria’s vice president, Kashim Shettima, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Tajuddeen Abbas, and Deputy President of the Senate, Barau Jibrin, were among mourners who attended…

Nigeria’s vice president, Kashim Shettima, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Tajuddeen Abbas, and Deputy President of the Senate, Barau Jibrin, were among mourners who attended the funeral prayer and burial of the former speaker Ghali Umar Na’Abba in Kano.

Daily Trust reports that the deceased passed away around 3am on Wednesday morning at a hospital in Abuja.  

His corpse was flown to Kano for burial around 2pm and was taken to his residence before his family for prayers and then to Kano emir’s palace.  

The funeral prayer was led by the Chief Imam of Kano, Professor Sani Zahraddeen, at exactly 5:38pm.  

Late Na’Abba left behind one wife and 10 children and was buried at the Dandolo cemetery at Goron Dutse.  

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Among thousands that attended the funeral prayer were notable personalities like Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Senator Ibrahim Shekarau, former governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, and Senator Kawu Sumaila.  

Meanwhile, friends, family members and political associates of the former speaker paid glowing tributes to the Kano-born politician.  

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in his condolence message, sympathised with the Na’Abba family, the government, and the people of Kano State over the death of Na’Abba.  

The president, in a statement on Wednesday by his spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, expressed grief at the loss.  

He recalled the contributions of the late ex-lawmaker to nation-building through legislation, advocacy, and policy and his determined struggle to defend the functionality and role of the legislature in governance, describing him as a disciplined and resolute politician. 

President Tinubu prayed for the repose of the soul of the departed and comfort for those who mourn this painful loss.  

Former President Muhammadu Buhari in his message to the large Na’Abba family in Kano, the government and the people of the state, described the demise of the former Speaker, House of Representatives, as a national loss.  

“His insight into issues and nuanced understanding of politics had few parallels.  

“Speaker Na’Abba was at the forefront of the defence of democracy at a time it faced the threat of extinction by powerful forces.  

“He leaves us with innumerable memories of his activism in politics,’’ he said.  

Senate President Godswill Akpabio expressed sadness over the death of the former speaker.  

The Senate President, in a condolence message signed by his spokesperson, Eseme Eyiboh, described the former speaker as a patriot, selfless politician, and true democrat who sacrificed his ambition by repelling dictatorship and instituting the independence of the legislature.  

Also, the Deputy Senate President, Barau Jibrin, said the deceased was a parliamentarian par excellence, who promoted and defended legislative independence during his era as the Speaker of the House of Representatives between July and June 2003.  

He prayed to Allah SWT to grant the late speaker Jannatul Firdausi and all those he left behind the strength to bear the irreparable loss.  

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, said Na’Abba would be missed in Nigeria’s political landscape.  

Ganduje in a statement in Abuja by his Chief Press Secretary, Edwin Olofu, described Na’Abba as a thoroughbred politician and legislator who meant well for the country.  

He recalled the pivotal role played by Na’Abba when he served as the Speaker of the House of Representatives to entrench the independence of the legislative arm of government “even in the face of provocation” by top operatives of the executive arm.  

“His rich experiences and doggedness even when faced with the risk of impeachment were contributory to whatever achievements we recorded at the National Assembly today. He diligently served Nigeria. His wit, intellect, diligence and warm personality were legendary,” he added.  

In their condolence messages, House of Representatives  Speaker Abbas Tajuddeen and his deputy, Benjamin Kalu, said the death of Na’abba was a huge loss to the nation.  

The speaker described late Na’Abba as a lawmaker par excellence and a dedicated, committed, patriotic Nigerian who served his fatherland with zeal.  

He said, “Rt. Hon. Ghali Na’Abba was a special breed as a lawmaker. He showed leadership as Speaker of the 4th House. He inspired members of the house under his leadership in many ways. Furthermore, he championed the first and only successful veto of a sitting president, leading to the establishment of the NDDC.  

The deputy speaker, Benjamin Kalu, in his condolence message described Na’Abba as a “fine parliamentarian with unusual legislative acumen, zeal and zest”.  

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar said the late Na’Abba raised the bar of legislative enterprise in Nigeria as it is evident that the 1st Session of the National Assembly where he served with distinction between 1999 and 2003 remains one of the best in the annals of our legislatures.  

The Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF) in its message expressed “deep sorrow’’ over the death of the late speaker.  

Chairman of the forum and governor of Gombe State, Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, in a statement expressed deep sorrow over the demise of late Na’Abba, who he described as a fine gentleman, smart politician and dogged leader who graced the Nigerian political landscape with courage and distinction.  

Late Ghali Na’Abba’s younger brother Ahmed Umar Na’abba said it was difficult to fill the vacuum his death had created but prayed to Allah to grant him eternal rest.  

A childhood friend and Dan Darman Sokoto Alhaji Mustapha Garba described the former speaker as a dogged fighter and principled politician whose contribution to Nigeria’s democracy will remain a source of inspiration for the incoming generation of young leaders.  

Kano State governor in a condolence message, described Na’abba as a true democrat who worked relentlessly to ensure that democracy, good governance, and respect for the rule of law  were entrenched even as he championed  the cause of the common man.  

An associate of Na’abba and former aide to the late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua, Malam Yakubu Musa, said the former speaker was an accomplished democrat.  

“Ghali Na’Abba was a fearless leader, whose legacy resonated through the halls of Nigerian politics. He redefined the office of the speaker and raised the bar high for his successors. As a reporter for Thisday Newspapers, I had the privilege of witnessing his straightforward personality and the unwavering commitment to the independence of legislators. His courage in battling political challenges left an indelible mark. Ghali Na’Abba’s impact on Nigerian politics and his victories in the face of adversity will be remembered by the nation he served. May he rest in peace,’’ Yakubu said.  

An elder statesman, Tanko Yakasai, described the death of the 8th Speaker of the National Assembly as shocking, and devastating.   

Yakasai said: “Ghali is my son; he grew up to hold a position of authority, and his renowned principles on separation of power made him a Speaker’s Speaker who died when his services are needed most.”  

A Kano-based politician Alhaji Haruna Ahmadu Zago popularly known as Danzago said Na’Abba was not only a patriot, but also a special breed of politician who stood in defence of unity and greatness of the country.  

“He was a defender of our democracy. His sterling leadership qualities would remain indelible in the political lexicon of the country.’’  

Ghali Na’Abba was born into the family of a prominent Kano businessman, Alhaji Umar Na’Abba, in September 1958 in Jingau quarters in the ancient city of Kano. He obtained a bachelors’ degree in political science from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria in 1979.  

He won election on the platform of peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, to represent Kano municipal federal constituency in the House of Representatives in 1999.  

Ghali Na’Abba aspired to be the Speaker of the House having garnered substantial support from his colleagues and party leaders, but conceded to Ibrahim Salisu Buhari, who later emerged as first Speaker of Fourth Republic House of Representatives. Na’abba was subsequently appointed the House Committee Chairman on Appropriations.  

 He was elected speaker following Buhari’s short-lived tenure on account of age falsification controversy.  

In April 2003, Na’Abba lost his re-election bid to ANPP’s Umar Elyakub in what could be termed as a Machiavellian plot and political scheming targeted at preventing his emergence as speaker for his rising popularity and insistence on the independence of the legislature.  

He was nicknamed the lion of the National Assembly for his courage, outspokenness and principled stand on legislative independence.  

His political sagacity manifested when he mobilised members of lower legislative chamber to overturn President Obasanjo’s veto on a number of bills.  

In 2002, the house under his leadership commenced impeachment proceedings against President Obasanjo over alleged excessive overbearing influence and constitutional breaches.  

Na’Abba later teamed up with the late Abubakar Rimi and others to pursue a political journey, albeit unsuccessfully, on the platform of AC, a party created by political alliance between former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the then Lagos State Governor Bola Tinubu.  

He later returned to the PDP and supported the presidential bid of former military president, Ibrahim Babangida in 2011.  

After leaving APC just before the 2019 elections, Na’Abba joined Professor Pat Utomi to form the National Consultative Front to chart a new course for Nigeria’s democratic journey.  

In an interview with Daily Trust in October 2020, Na’Abba, who maintained that he was ‘partyless’, said lack of internal democracy was the root cause of Nigeria’s underdevelopment.  

His rumoured death in London went viral on social media in May 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Na’Abba refuted the rumour in a video and his picture walking on London Street flooded the social media. 

 

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