Remarks by Speaker Dogara on the Occasion of the Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Award for the Advancement of Constitutional Democracy in Nigeria
REMARKS BY THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA , RT. HON. YAKUBU DOGARA ON THE OCCASION OF THE SIR ABUBAKAR TAFAWA BALEWA AWARD FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA BY THE FACULTY OF LAW, NASSARAWA STATE UNIVERSITY AT THEIR IST ANNUAL FOUNDER’S AND AWARDS DAY AT THE FACULTY AUDITORIUM, KEFFI ON WEDNESDAY 8TH NOVEMBER, 2017
It is with the greatest sense of humility but nonetheless appreciation that I stand before this distinguished intellectuals of the academic community of Nassarawa State University, Keffi. Let me express my appreciation to the Vice Chancellor , Dean Faculty of Law and indeed the management and Staff of the university for choosing me, out of millions of perhaps more deserving Nigerians, for this prestigious award.
I am here 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. University events have always been accorded a primacy of place in my calendar. Although the House of which I am the Speaker sits today, I have had to delegate my responsibility to my deputy to be here with you. If our presence here inspires just one student, we would have not attended this event in vain.
I have noted elsewhere that awards in Nigeria had become an all comers undertaking where in some cases the awarding body makes its choice before approaching the awardee for information to justify such award. The distinguishing factor therefore is the reputation of the awarding body. When it comes to a body of our learned noble profession, one need not look elsewhere for reputation and it is in recognition of the sterling reputation of this faculty and indeed the university that I accepted this award.
It is important for me to also state that this award rejuvenates in me, very strong sentiments and sense of nostalgia for two reasons. Firstly, 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: Knighted by the queen in 1960, he had prior to this bagged the awards of OBE, CBE and the accolades of “The perfect Victorian gentleman”; ” Golden voice of Africa ” among others. His 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.
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 as 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.
Constitutional Democracy carries with it the idea of, “popular sovereignty”. Meaning is people are the real repository of government authority and they must be governed with their consent. It’s a Government limited by law whether written or unwritten. Constitutional democracy does not guarantee anything and as a matter fact it does work. It’s the citizens of a democracy that make democracy work. That’s why the work you do in studying, analysing laws and courts judgements 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. You are therefore the true defenders of democracy.
For students of this great faculty, Let me tell you one very simple but often overlooked fact. That’s that life can not offer you more than who you are. But the good news is that you can become more. Knowledge is good but knowledge alone in useless is personal and societal transformation. Education, Studies makes keeps you informed and you do well if you are educated but it’s the practical application of what you know that brings true transformation at personal levels and to society. The simple truth is that only the few of you who deploy or apply what you are learning here will distinguish themselves. May you be that special person. I must stop here.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the other distinguished Nigerians who have been similarly honoured , I wish to once again express our sincere appreciation to the Faculty of Law of the Nassarawa State University for the confidence reposed in us by this honour and promise that this will spur us to higher levels of commitment and service to the nation and humanity.
God bless you and God bless the federal Republic of Nigeria.