Fortunate to have survived a tsunami that denied hundreds of incumbent lawmakers a return to the federal parliament, Gagdi is gunning for the Speakership of the Tenth House of Representatives.
The youngest of eleven Aspirants, does he possess political dexterity that would see him clinch the seat as a dark horse? We examine the strengths and weaknesses of the Plateau lawmaker ahead of the Election of Presiding Officers of the National Assembly come June.
Yusuf Adamu Gagdi represents at the Nigerian House of Representatives; Pankshin, Kanke and Kanam Federal Constituency, popularly known as PKK.
Prior to his election as a federal lawmaker, he had served as Legislative Aide to a Deputy Speaker at Plateau State House of Assembly and went on to win elections as a lawmaker in the legislature of his home state, Plateau, where he rose to the position of Deputy Speaker between 2003 and 2006.
He thereafter served as a Member of the Plateau State Library Board (2012- 2014) and Chairman of the Federal Board for the Lower Benue River Basin Development Authority (LBRBDA) Makurdi between 2012 and 2014. Gagdi also served as Financial Secretary of the Plateau State chapter of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and Chairman of the Special Committee on Peace, Security and Reconciliation in Plateau State.
Ahead of the 2019 National Assembly election, he sought a seat in the federal parliament and following his success at the polls and subsequent inauguration as an Under-40 lawmaker, he has gone on to become one of the familiar faces in the Green Chamber, especially as Chairman of the House Committee on Navy, in the last four years.
In a keenly contested election that saw over one hundred members of the Ninth House of Representatives being swept off by a political landslide right from the party primaries, the second-time Member-elect is one of the survivors not just going into the Green Chamber in June but seeking a change of their status in the House.
For an Assembly whose outgoing Speaker is just a little over 60 years of age, Gagdi’s quest to preside over the Tenth House as a forty-three-year-old lawmaker will definitely excite many of his colleagues.
This is especially going by the global trend where parliamentarians under 45 lead the legislature in top democracies. Given the sheer number of first-time lawmakers coming into the parliament who are likely to care little about ranking and the diverse party representation as the incoming House, there is a fine possibility that some lawmakers may be looking his way.
Besides him being young, the lawmaker appears to have performed creditably in the core function of lawmaking as he ranks third (based on volume) on the log of federal lawmakers from Plateau State, comprising three (3) Senators and eight (8) House of Representatives. According to OrderPaper’s Performance Scorecard for members of the Ninth National Assembly between 2019 and 2022, he sponsored twenty-one bills behind Rep. Dachung Musa Bagos (33 bills) and Simon Davou Mwadkwon (23 bills).
Importantly, six of the bills sponsored by Gagdi have been passed by the House, while five have been sent to the Senate for concurrence. For the other pieces of legislation, three have been laid on the table, four are awaiting report, while the others are largely awaiting second reading. He is also among the Top 10 Newbies in the Ninth House of Representatives based on his performance in lawmaking. Bills sponsored by the lawmaker include:
- Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019
- Chartered Institute of Human Resources and Strategic Management of Nigeria (Establishment) Bill, 2020
- Nigeria Steel Development Authority Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- Nigerian Red Cross Society Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- Nigerian Mining Corporation Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- Chartered Institute of Finance and Control of Nigeria (Establishment) Bill, 2020
- Nigerian Police Academy (Establishment, Etc.) Bill, 2020
- Nigerian Police Act (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2020
- Federal University of Education, Pankshin (Establishment) Bill, 2020
- Maritime Security Operations Co-operation Board Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- National Hydrographic Agency (Establishment) Bill, 2020
- Coastal and Inland Shipping (CABOTAGE) Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- National Institute for Police Studies (NIPS) (Establishment) Bill, 2020
- Police Service Commission Act (Repeal and Enactment) Bill, 2020
- Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Alteration) Bill, 2020
- Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2021
- Nigerian Maritime Security Trust Fund (Establishment) Bill, 2021
- Admiralty University of Nigeria, Ibusa (Establishment) Bill, 2021
19. Police Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021
- Federal College of Education, Dengi –Kanam (Establishment) Bill, 2022
- Federal Polytechnic, Nyak-Shendam, Plateau State (Establishment) Bill, 2022
The Plateau lawmaker is also credited with sponsoring sixteen (16) motions, including those on the (a) Need for urgent investigation into the non-remittance of contributions by employers, delay or non-payment of entitlements to pensioners. (b) Need to investigate excess and illegal charges on the House of Representatives accounts held at various banks (c) Need to investigate the non-inclusion of waste management and disposal in the Nigeria Liquid Natural Gas (NLNG).
Some others bother on the ‘Unsubstantial and false allegations of corruption against General Yakubu Gowon, former Head of State by a member of the United Kingdom Parliament’ and ‘A call on the Federal Government to consider the security strategies with a view to finding the last solution to the various dimensions of security challenges in Nigeria.’
In the area of representation, coming from a state plagued by insecurity in the last four years and charing a Standing Committee on a security outfit in parliament, his contributions in the Chamber in the form of security-related bills and at least one motion in that light is commendable.
With the All Progressives Congress, APC’s adoption of a lawmaker from the North West as its preferred aspirant for the Speakership, some lawmakers are believed to holding on to the position that Gagdi’s North Central geo-political zone may have been unjustly treated in the power-sharing arrangement given their contributions to the party’s success in the just concluded election. Similarly, the perception among some of his colleagues that electing a Presiding Officer not favoured by his party will benefit the independence of the next House of Representatives as an arm of government is also palpable.
Close observers of the parliament say these factors may also count for Gagdi if the experience of 2011 and 2015; particularly in the Green Chamber is anything to go by.
One of the major criticisms against Gagdi’s ambition to be first among equals in the next Legislative Assembly is his perceived lack of qualitative experience to lead the country’s federal parliament, which is, by many standards, a microcosm of the country. Some refer to his impeachment as Deputy Speaker of Plateau State House of Assembly via a voice vote by 18 members as grounds to doubt his capacity to hold a larger House together.
In another vein, not many progressive lawmakers may be convinced that the young lawmaker will be interested in conversations around cutting the cost of governance, which is a dire need in the country now. This perception is largely fuelled by reports that Gagdi as a first-term lawmaker, has no fewer than 137 aides on his payroll, whereas the National Assembly approves of five legislative aides per lawmaker.
Finally, with recent developments in the polity, his major hurdle will be to convince his colleagues, especially those elected on his party’s platform; the governing APC, to jettison its approved zoning arrangement, clearly not in his favour. This is amid worries that the Minority Caucus, with at least one hundred and eighty-one members in the next Assembly, may be up to a surprise on the floor of the Green Chamber upon inauguration in June.
Having run a well-oiled campaign so far, transversing states to meet with key stakeholders, the young lawmaker might just be the dark horse in this year’s Speakership race. Two questions on the table however as the race hots up are: Will Gagdi attempt to ride on the numerical strength of the opposition to covet the Speakership at the detriment of his party, or will he step down from the race in deference to his party’s position on the subject?
It’s definitely a game to be watched closely.