Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, has said that Nigeria’s first and only Prime Minister, the late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa has remained a political colossus in Nigeria’s history, 50 years after his death.
The Speaker stated this after he was conferred with the award of the “Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa for the Advancement of Constitutional Democracy in Nigeria” by the Faculty of Law, Nassarawa State University, Keffi on Wednesday.
He noted that although some people have been making a comparison of him and the late Prime Minister, he is nowhere close to what the former Nigerian leader was.
According to him, “When I am often compared to him in the sense of attributes, I do not consider myself as having thus accomplished, rather I accept such prayers that I should so accomplish. The bar set by people like Sir Tafawa Balewa is so high that people like me can only attempt to scale at our peril.”
Hon Dogara, who stressed the importance of education in the society, reveals that he accepted the honour ” primarily not for the award but to stand as a testimony of what education means to me so that the Students here don’t take education for granted.”
He argued that the award rejuvenates in him very strong sentiments and sense of nostalgia for two reasons saying, “if the man after whom this award is named, the Rt Hon (Sir) Abubakar Tafawa Balewa were to be alive today, he will be my constituent”.
“Again nearly 50 years after the tragic events that claimed his life, my elevation to the office of the Speaker House of Representatives became the first position of prominence the constituency would rise to in the government of Nigeria.”
“Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa remains a political colossus in our nation’s history and one of the most respected Nigerian political leaders internationally.”
“His (Tafawa Balewa) exceeding humility, managerial finesse and forthrightness were infectious.”
“His excellent reputation manifested even greater in death as evidenced by the Tafawa Balewa Square in Lagos; the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University in Bauchi; his Tomb in Bauchi which is a national monument and his portrait which adorns the 5 Naira note of our currency, among many others.”
“Although these are not the reason for which we celebrate him today, they bear eloquent testimony to the accomplishment of a most distinguished personality whose words continue to resonate as if they were spoken just yesterday and would continue to inspire generations after us.”
Speaking on constitutional democracy, Hon Dogara, who is also a lawyer by profession, said the concept connotes that people are the real repository of government authority and they must be governed with their consent.
“It’s the citizens of a democracy that make democracy work. That’s why the work you do in studying, analysing laws and courts judgments and pointing out their weakness and inadequacies, is perhaps the most important work of democracy. This is because it’s the law that secures the order upon which our democracy is built and the deeper the laws the deeper our democracy.”