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Valedictory Session in honour of Late Ghali Umar Na’Abba, Former Speaker, House of Representatives (1999 – 2003).

Valedictory Session in honour of Late Ghali Umar Na’Abba, Former Speaker, House of Representatives (1999 – 2003).
Valedictory Session in honour of Late Ghali Umar Na’Abba, Former Speaker, House of Representatives (1999 – 2003).

The Leader of the House, Hon. Julius Ihonvbere moved the motion for the commencement of the valedictory session and it was seconded by the Minority Leader, Hon. Kingsley Chinda.

Honourable Colleagues, Distinguished Guests, Ladies, and Gentlemen,
Today, we gather in this hallowed chamber in solemn remembrance of and to pay tribute to an extraordinary statesman and a patriot, His Excellency Rt. Hon. Ghali Umar Na’Abba, CFR, who passed unto eternal glory on December 27, 2023. Na’Abba served as the Speaker of the House of Representatives from July 1999 to May 2003. He, undoubtedly, left an indelible mark on our nation’s democratic journey and will be remembered as one of the titans of our democracy.

2. Speaker after speaker at this session will testify to his courage, boldness, dedication to the principles of democracy, exemplary leadership and steadfast commitment to the time-honoured principles of separation of powers. Of all his qualities, what stands out the most is his simplicity, austerity, contentment and rare honesty. He was a modest and deeply religious man who gave the last full measure of devotion to his work and Nigeria. He lived a simple life but always with the end in mind. His life is, therefore, a worthy lesson for political office holders of today and generations of politicians to come.

3. While this is a moment of grief and national mourning, it is equally a time for sober reflection and celebration of his unblemished public service record and enduring legacy. At a more personal level, I am humbled by the enormity of his contributions and inspired by the purity of his vision. As we reflect on his life, we are reminded of the enduring strength of our democracy and the pivotal role of the legislature in that regard.

4. At the dawn of the Fourth Republic in 1999, Nigeria stood on the threshold of history. After long years of military rule, Nigerians longed for stability, democracy, and governance that resonated with their hopes and aspirations. It was in this context that Hon. Na’Abba assumed the position of the Speaker, guiding this House with wisdom, dedication, and unwavering commitment. His tenure laid the foundations of a robust, independent legislature, vital for the checks and balances that underpin a vibrant democratic system. His leadership was characterised by a profound understanding that the strength of a democracy is measured not just by the freedom enjoyed by its citizens but also by the strength of its institutions.

5. Under his stewardship, the House of Representatives emerged as a forum for vigorous debate and a powerful instrument for change and development. He championed laws and reforms that continue to impact our nation, fostering economic growth, social justice, and the welfare of all Nigerians. Additionally, he laid a solid foundation for the growth and development of this House and pursued institutional building with unparalleled vigour and passion.

6. Moreover, his tenure was marked by efforts to ensure the independence of the legislature, recognising that a truly democratic society thrives when its legislative arm operates without undue influence, freely articulating the will and aspirations of the people. He worked diligently with his colleagues to ensure the National Assembly budget was put on first-line charge. He also formalised the legislative aides’ system we operate today, which continues to boost the capacity of legislators for enhanced performance. The vision of Hon. Na’Abba has been supported by successive administrations, with the Executive arm working in concert with the National Assembly to ensure good governance, transparency, and accountability.

7. The contributions of Hon. Na’Abba to legislative strengthening and institution building are indeed too numerous to mention. He established a strong bond with the people through the first Legislative Agenda of the House of Representatives, tagged, ‘House Contract with the Nigerian People’. The Agenda was focused on meeting the people’s basic needs and improving public welfare and sectoral development. In his determination to realise the legislative agenda, he sponsored the ‘Minimum Infrastructure Bill’, a wide-ranging and amalgamated legislative master plan to foster infrastructural development in Nigeria.

8.  During his time as Speaker, the House developed a strong and vibrant committee system that enabled it to exercise its oversight functions and promote accountability of government institutions. Alongside his colleagues from other African parliaments, Na’Abba articulated and reformed parliamentary diplomacy in Africa at the start of the new millennium in 2000. He held various positions in parliamentary bodies and organisations, including: President, Conference of Speakers of West African Parliaments; President Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (Africa Region); President, African Parliamentary Union, President, African Regional Council; and President, Global Forum for Parliamentarians on Habitat among others. He is fondly remembered in these organisations for his vision of a stronger and more united Africa and his efforts towards its actualisation.

9. The journey since then has not been without its challenges. Nigeria has faced and continues to confront a myriad of issues and challenges. Yet, the resilience of our democracy, strengthened by the contributions of Rt. Hon. Ghali Umar Na’Abba and many others who followed him have allowed us to navigate these tumultuous waters with hope and determination.

10. As we honour his legacy, let us also acknowledge our collective responsibility to build on the foundations he laid. The legislature remains a vital organ of our democracy, with the potential to drive Nigeria towards unprecedented growth and development. As legislators, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that the House continues to serve as a forum for meaningful dialogue, a catalyst for change, and a protector of the rights and freedoms of our citizens.

11. Honourable Colleagues, Distinguished Guests, and Fellow Nigerians, I wish to take this opportunity to underscore the paramount importance of fostering a harmonious relationship between the Executive and the Legislature. This relationship, rooted in mutual respect and shared commitment, is the bedrock upon which the edifice of our democracy and the future of our nation rests. In the face of current difficulties facing the country, the House of Representatives reaffirms its unwavering commitment to supporting the Executive to tackle these challenges speedily and bring forth a new dawn of development and prosperity for all Nigerians.

12. Our democracy is designed on the principle of separation of powers, yet it thrives on the synergy between these arms. This is not a design for division but a formula for collaboration. It is imperative, therefore, that we, as the legislative arm, work in concert with the Executive to address the multifaceted challenges facing our nation. Our collective goal must be to chart a new course of development. The commitment of the House of Representatives to this cause is unequivocal. Whether legislative, Executive or Judiciary, there is ONLY ONE GOVERNMENT UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF THE PRESIDENT, BOLA AHMED TINUBU.

13. We in the House pledge to expedite the passage of critical legislation that will empower the Executive and support the President in tackling our nation’s economic challenges. Through constructive partnership grounded in dialogue and cooperation, we can address the present difficulties and lay out the blueprint for a new Nigeria that is the economic powerhouse of the region and the world.

14. In closing, I call on all of us to recommit ourselves to the ideals that Ghali Umar Na’Abba held dear: democracy, justice, and the unwavering belief in the potential of Nigeria and its people. Let us pledge to honour his memory by embodying the values he represented. Let us continue his legacy of service and strive for a better Nigeria for today and future generations.

15. To our distinguished former Speaker, we say thank you. Your legacy is a testament to the enduring power of leadership, vision, and commitment to the greater good. Your journey on earth may have ended, but your spirit lives on in the lives you touched and the enduring legacy of service. On behalf of the House of Representatives, I extend our deepest condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones of Rt. Hon. Umar Ghali Na’abba. His legacy transcends the confines of material wealth; he lived a life that was a testament to the enduring power of a good name and an unblemished reputation. Today, we are reminded ever more eloquently of the profound truth that the true measure of a life well-lived is not found in the accumulation of wealth but in the legacy of service one leaves behind. May his family and friends find comfort in the knowledge that his legacy will endure in the hearts and minds of all who knew him and generations to come.

16. Even as we mourn, we seek solace in believing that we all are from Almighty Allah (SWT) and to Him is our return. May Allah (SWT) forgive his shortcomings and grant the departed soul ‘jannatul firdaus’. May He also grant his family, friends, associates and the nation the fortitude to bear the loss.

17. Thank you, and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila expressed mixed emotions at the event as he stated that even though it seems the House is mourning, he is celebrating the life of a Giant. He eulogized the late Rt. Hon. Ghali Umar Na'Abba for being a true nationalist and detribalized Nigerian who always spoke the truth for the best interest of Nigeria and thanked him for his service to Nigeria. As an adherent to the brand of politics of Aminu Kano which made politics about service to the people first, especially the down trodden, he remembered Na'Abba's leadership commitment to the wellbeing of all Nigerians. He called on all politicians to continue emulating these paths of service to humanity with heart and conscience. Rt. Hon. Gbajabiamila also remembered how he always treasured the words, advice and guidance late Na'Abba gave him when he, Gbajabiamila was Speaker of the House.

Rt. Hon. Bello Masari remembered that when the House was constituted in 1999 at the return to democracy, politicians had little or no experience and with an Executive Arm of government led by a former military leader, it was not an easy cap saddled on the late Rt. Hon. Ghali Na'Abba to wear as the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Hon. Masari stated that the politics of Kano state and Nigeria cannot be written without mentioning people like Na'Abba for their immense contribution. Despite all the hurdles and treats of the time, Na'Abba he stated did not only survive his tenure as Speaker of the House, but also thrived at it. For this Masari stated, Na'Abba deserves high praise. He stressed that late Ghali Na'Abba will be grossly missed and urged his family to continue his legacy. He urged politicians to continue providing exemplary leadership so the youth can have hope of a better and responsible life.

Rt. Hon. Chibudom Nwuche remembered how he served as Deputy Speaker under former Speaker, late Rt. Hon. Ghali Umar Na'Abba and enjoyed a robust relationship that not only inspired him personally, but ensured the leadership at the time survived all the missiles from the then Executive. He remembered late Na'Abba as truly a detribalized Nigerian that extolled competency rather than sentimentality in all he did. He asked for the peaceful repose of his soul and that the family will have the strength to bear the loss.  

Hon. Bawa Bwari also expressed mixed feelings at the occasion as he has nothing but respect and admiration for late Rt. Hon. Ghali Na'Abba. He recalled how they faced and surmounted numerous trials together. He described the late Speaker as fearless and a pillar of strength whose courage was a guiding light to fight for the right cause, even when it was not the most popular path to tow. Hon. Bawa remembered how Ghali always rallied the House together above religious, ethnic and political divides to make right and patriotic decisions for the benefit of Nigerians.

Hon. Jerry Igbokwe remembered late Ghali Na'Abba as a patriotic and detribalized Nigerian leader who had only the true interest of Nigeria at heart. He stressed that Rt. Hon. Na'Abba was the best person to lead the House of Representatives at the time in order to ensure the autonomy of the Parliament despite the intimidation by the Executive Arm of government at the time.

Sen. Binta Garba reiterated the joy of working with late Rt. Hon. Ghali Na'Abba who ensured female House members at the time were not silenced, but given ample opportunity to represent their constituents. She remembered the unique leadership style of Rt. Hon. Na'Abba who ensured key national issues were handled devoid of political, ethnic or religious sentiments and favorable to all geopolitical zones of Nigeria. Sen. Garba remembered how the Executive at the time denied members of the House of Representatives their due benefits and rightful entitlements for more than 6 months to try and stifle their decision-making directions, but Honorable members of the House stood with the leadership of Na'Abba and excelled at the end; still adamant on decisions in favor of Nigerians.

Sen. Hadi Sirika stressed that late Rt. Hon. Ghali Na'Abba was a courageous and forthright Speaker who excelled as Speaker of the House despite the leanest of resources. He remembered Na'Abba's unwavering resolve in protecting the spirit of democracy for the uplifting of all Nigerians. Hon. Sirika admonished all to remember that life on earth is transient, but the legacies we live behind is what lives on, Ghali he said lives on. 

Hon. Kingsley Chinda described late Rt. Hon. Ghali Na'Abba as a true nationalist and detribalized Nigerian leader. He remembered how Na'Abba treated him as his son while he was furthering his Law study. He further recollected the virtue of nationalism in politics portrayed by Rt. Hon. Na'Abba which has influenced new parliamentarians in thinking patriotically devoid of sentiments. He called on young people to adopt and emulate the spirit of late Rt. Hon. Na'Abba in all walks of life for a better Nigeria.

Hon. Ali Isa vividly recalled the courage of late Speaker, Rt. Hon. Ghali Na'Abba who encouraged young Nigerians to be more involved in politics, leadership and decision-making processes in order for them to achieve the Nigeria of their dreams. He called for the emulation of the virtues of leaders such as Rt. Hon. Na'Abba. He further called on political leaders to continue to make decisions only for the good of all Nigerians.

Hon. Abdullahi Halims extolled the leadership qualities of late Speaker, Rt. Hon. Ghali Umar Na'Abba who he met and was blown away by his simplicity, wisdom, humility, focus and national commitment. He described Rt. Na'Abba as an incorruptible Nigerian with a single and indivisible vision for the greatness of Nigeria. Hon. Halims praised late Rt. Hon. Na'Abba for his unwavering commitment to contributing his quota for a better Nigeria by mentoring younger Nigerians to fill available leadership gaps and voids even after leaving office.

Hon. Julius Ihonvbere remembered with fondness the forthright commitment of late Rt. Hon. Ghali Na'Abba to succeeding in leadership for the good of Nigerians despite the many challenges and harassments from the then Executive Arm of government. He stated that the leadership pages of Rt. Hon. Na'Abba is full of positive strides for and on behalf of Nigerians, even at grave personal sacrifices.

The Deputy Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Okieze Kalu expressed awe at the myriad of accolades by those who truly knew the man Ghali Na'Abba. He stressed that the late Rt. Hon. Na'Abba was rich in national courage, national pride, national commitment, a true hero of democracy, transparency and accountability who was not afraid of the barrage of intimidation and threats by the then Executive Arm of government. Rt. Hon. Kalu stressed that late Rt. Hon. Na'Abba was a true Representative who sacrificed his personal comfort for the good of all Nigerians who he represented. He called on Nigerians to shift their preference from celebrating wealth, to celebrate those committed to the Nigerian developmental project. He further called for continuous support for the family late Speaker, Rt. Hon. Ghali Na'Abba left behind. He reminded Honorable members of the desire of the House of Representatives to name the National Assembly Service Comission building after late Rt. Hon. Ghali Na'Abba.

The Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Abbas Tajudeen commended all the invited guests, former members of the House as well as current members of the House of Representatives for finding time to come and celebrate the life and times of the great man, former Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Ghali Umar Na'Abba. He admonished Nigerians to emulate the type of life late Rt. Hon. Na'Abba lived so that Nigeria becomes a better place for all. He prayed for the family he left behind and assured them of the continuous support of the House of Representatives in every way possible. Rt. Hon. Tajudeen also commended the unity in spirit displayed and assured that the House of Representatives will continue to remain a united family. He further assured that the House of Representatives is committed to the naming of the National Assembly Service Commission building after the late Speaker, Rt. Hon. Ghali Na'Abba and that the resolution of the House to this effect has been transmitted to the Senate for concurrence.

A representative from the family of late Rt. Hon. Ghali Umar Na'Abba thanked the House of Representatives for the honor done their father. He stressed that the late Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Ghali Umar Na'Abba instilled in them 3 pioneering virtues which is to carry people along in all they do, to respect those who God has risen above them, so they can also achieve greatness in life, as well as to get along with all allies despite any form of difference in views, opinions, culture or religious beliefs. This he stated was late Rt. Hon. Ghali Umar Na'Abba's guiding principles and pillars.


The House at 13:46 PM adjourned plenary to Tuesday, February 27th, 2024 by 11:00 A.M following a motion for adjournment moved by the Leader of the House, Hon. Julius Ihonvbere and seconded by the Minority Leader, Hon. Kingsley Chinda

Media Unit, Office of the Speaker, House of Representatives.
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