By Dele Momodu
Fellow Nigerians, let me confess that one of the first adages I learnt as a kid was “man proposes but God disposes.” That is the story of our foray into book publishing at Ovation International. As prolific as most people say I’m, I’ve never been able to write and publish a full length book. Yet I have at least more than enough materials to come up with about six voluminous books. Many readers have pleaded with me to compile my Pendulum column into several books but for some strange reasons I’ve been procrastinating endlessly. My first collection was ready as far back as 1997, some 20 years ago, while I was in exile. It was edited by Dr Reuben Abati, who wrote a very powerful introduction, but it was never published. Since then, I have written hundreds of articles and essays. There was also a book written by Ohimai Godwin Amaize, my Presidential Campaign Coordinator, after my audacious Presidential contest in 2011, titled FIGHTING LIONS, but which has also not been published till this day. But that jinx has now been broken, finally.
As I write this, the biography of Nigeria’s Speaker, Federal House of Representatives Rt. Hon. Dogara Yakubu, authored by me and published by Ovation Books, is set to be launched on December 26, 2017, the day this quiet but effective leader turns 50 years on earth. I’ve encountered many leaders globally but Dogara Yakubu is in a class of his own. I feel so privileged to have worked with a fantastic team on this project and the end product is what I’m extremely proud of. What started like a joke has virtually become a reality.
Life indeed is a mystery. I met the Rt. Hon. Dogara Yakubu in a most dramatic fashion in 2015. He had just gone through a very tough selection process to become the number four citizen in Nigeria, as Speaker, Federal House of Representatives. I received a message that he would love to meet with me as part of his efforts to reach out to media influencers and give out his own side of the story about the raging controversy surrounding his miraculous emergence. I was honoured to be so counted. I offered to visit him at home, or at work. But he chose to visit me in my hotel room in Abuja. For me, it was such a humbling experience.
Speaker Yakubu came and we bonded instantly. His humility was simply infectious. He spoke from the heart and enlightened me on what transpired at the House the day he became Speaker. We never saw again until sometime this year when I got a message from Mrs Olubunmi Badejo who informed me the Speaker was trying to reach me. I also got the same message from Presidential spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina. This was getting serious, I soliloquised. I met with Mrs Badejo and she gave me a picture of what the Speaker wanted me to do. She said the Speaker believed I could publish a good biography on his journey through life so far.
This looked spiritual to me because the offer came at a time Ovation was just working on diversifying into book publishing by leveraging on our huge contact with African newsmakers. I was particularly sad when one of the greatest Africans of the 20th century, Chief Antonio Oladeinde Fernandez died two years ago in Belgium without any proper biography to his name. The closest anyone could get were the phenomenal editions Ovation published on his life in several volumes beginning with the one about his island in New York, another on his sprawling and ocean-going yacht named YEMOJA (sea goddess) and the edition on the monumental divorce case involving his American wife, Olufunmilayo Aduke, a landmark divorce fiasco in Scotland. I had tried strenuously to get him to agree to allowing me work on his fairytale life. Some of our greatest men and women seem to hate people prying into their private lives. Just imagine that there are no serious biographies on some of our icons. They come into this world, spend over 80 years, achieve so much, and depart and vanish into total oblivion. Apart from biographies, there are no books chronicling historic events and showcasing important places and destinations. I’ve always admired writers like Segun Adeniyi for making that uncommon effort to capture historic moments for us. Segun has inspired me so much and I’ve taken up the challenge to add mine to your library. Thanks to Dogara Yakubu, I’ve decided to cross the Rubicon.
To cut the story short, let me tell you how it all happened. After a meeting with the Speaker, we reached an agreement to work on his biography. I knew he definitely had a good story to tell but I didn’t know it would be this captivating. The biggest challenge was going to be how to get him to sit still for hours of interviews and excruciating sessions. The only time he had was when I chased him to London and disturbed his brief vacation. We sat down daily and I was able to get him to pour out his heart to me and I was very impressed with his journey of faith. I was handed a long list of people to speak many of whom were very influential and powerful Nigerians. That was another tough aspect of the work. But we did not give up and today, the book is virtually ready. We give God all the glory.
It was a tough call and mission. I assembled my reliable and dependable team. Sola Ojewusi, Ohimai Godwin Amaize and Uzor Maxim Uzoatu readily came to mind because of our intellectual collaborations over time. We brought in more hands and the Speaker made the job a lot easier by providing us with logistical supports. We set out in earnest because we had just a few months to deliver a world class publication. We are delighted to present this book to the reading public.
I will like to thank the Rt. Hon. Dogara Yakubu for the confidence he had in us. We met a few times in Nigeria and London, for his interviews. We also spread our wings across Nigeria and Dubai. We are very grateful to all the wonderful friends and families of the Speaker who spoke to us and gave us relevant information and old tales about our subject. I’m particularly grateful to the three former Speakers who met with our team at very short notice.
I must also thank the Speaker’s amiable wife, Her Excellency Mrs. Gimbiya Dogara Yakubu for her insights and inputs. I thank the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari GCFR for graciously accepting to write the foreword. I also thank Their Excellencies, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Adamu Muazu, erstwhile Governor of Bauchi State, former Speakers Ghali Na’Abba, Patricia Etteh and Dimeji Bankole, Deputy Speaker Yusuf Lasun. Hundreds of Dogara’s colleagues in the House of Representatives and the Senate were also instrumental to the huge repository of information contained in this book and I am forever grateful to them. But for the fact that it is practically impossible to mention all names here, I would have done so.
I am grateful to members of Speaker Dogara’s family especially Mama Kaka Saratu, his aged mother in Gwarangah, Bauchi State whose retentive memory helped me to define properly, Dogara’s upbringing. I appreciate Dogara’s siblings in Bauchi, Abuja and Gwarangah, his relations, the Gung Zaar, Commodore Musa Komo Rtd. and the great Zaar people of Bauchi State. I also acknowledge the contributions of Dogara’s friends, mentors, especially the erudite Professors Joash Amupitan, SAN, Dakas Dakas SAN, Dauda Saleh, Suleiman Bogoro and Simon Yallams for their seminal contributions.
I must recognize the contributions of Rt. Hon. Dogara Yakubu’s office staff from the Chief of Staff, Hon. Jerry Manwe, his Deputy Hon. CID Maduabum, S.A. Media Turaki Hassan, Chief of Protocol Yakubu Ridi Tulu, S.A. Jolly Yakubu, Messrs. Ishaya Dangana, Murtala Jumma and Mr. Anuhu Mani.
The sterling roles of Mr. Gambo Hassan and Mrs. Olubunmi Badejo in making this venture a success cannot be overemphasized.
I equally cannot forget the efforts of Maxwell Jonge, John Balewa, Samuel Mbami, Ope Olotu, Jerry Asseh, John Pilaku and Seyi Fashina who travelled far and near helping to gather the information and data that assisted me in putting this book together.
All in all, I thank Almighty God for his unflinching protection and support in ensuring that this work succeeded. Glory and Honour to His Holy Name.
I hope that this book would meet your expectations and give you uncommon insight into the unusual life of Speaker Dogara Yakubu. His story is spectacular. I will humbly recommend it to all those who have lost faith and hope in their dreams. The Speaker is an example of God’s endless miracles. You need to enter this book right away in order to appreciate what God can do if we believe in Him. I expect this book to educate, entertain and inspire both the young and old.
The story of Dogara Yakubu is not yet finished. The epic is still unfolding.