I have been at this juncture twice, first in 2015 and secondly in 2019, It is usually an emotional moment for me.
When erstwhile strangers from all walks of life become colleagues then friends, then brothers and sisters joined by service to our nation from across the broad spectrum of this nation, kept together for a period of four years. Now, about to part, not like mortal separation, but because they did not succeed at their re-election bid to keep their seats for all manner of reasons, sometimes not due to poor performance.
It hurts to see brothers and sisters that I had worked with so closely in the same environment for the greater part of four years, now about to depart leaving us behind, with pain of separation so evident.
As I brace up for the final back slaps, moving speeches, handshakes with moist palms and misty eyes, warm memories come alive of some colleagues whose motions I have seconded, or those who seconded mine.
Some whose motions I have contributed to, the debates I have participated in, some who have voted against my motions, not out of malice but divergence of opinions, and so many that I have gone on oversight functions and undertaken budget defences with as my House committee members.
Valedictory sessions are reminders of the transience of our time in that special hall called hallowed chamber, where we all took positions like beacons in the service of our nation, where we canvassed our views about how we feel Nigeria should be and served as seen from different perspectives but all agree that EQUITY, JUSTICE and FAIRNESS are irreducible minimum factors that will sustain our national cohesion as a people coming from diverse backgrounds.
The transience of our stay in the House of Representatives, has compelled me to consciously continue to be relatable, and I have adopted this like faith.
Over the past eight years, I saw nobody from the narrow prism of where they come from, Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Fulani, Nupe, Ibibio, Ijaw etc., I see Nigeria.
I ate with Hon. Tunde as much as I am at home with Hon. Nnnena, I cherished my time with Aisha and shared productive moments with Hon Oboro.
And on this day, another valedictory day, when no motions of national public importance will be moved, no constituent’s petitions to be laid, no bills to be considered, rather a day of reflections and interrogation of how far we have come as members, both outgoing and returning, the tasks we accomplished and what we could not achieve, as we get set for the incoming house.
Valedictory sessions remind us that a day is coming that the hallowed chamber will only be accessible by invitation for ceremonial reasons and not as a daily duty post of service to us as members, as it has been for me and 359 others over the past four years.
As I look in the faces of some of my colleagues that will not be returning when next the chamber opens, I see those I will miss greatly because of the depth of their contributions, I see those I will remember for their cultural costumes, I see those I will miss for their jocular interventions, all of those and more have become the memories of the chamber and House of Representatives that everyone who has had the privilege of passing through will hold dearly for a lifetime.
What binds us certainly as patriots is stronger than our partisan inclinations, and every new assembly is different from the other, in the nature of new colleagues but one thing remain very clear, we are united by one fate and service of our nation.
This is the one reason why we must tighten the bond regardless of pressures on us to buckle, knowing that our independence is the key to our succeses as individuals or corporately as a house.
To colleagues, friends, brothers and sisters, who are not returning, I assure you that I will hold you and our memories dearly and will forever cherish them, as I thank Almighty Allah for the opportunity to have met you in my journey through life.
I wish you well in the next step you take in life, be rest assured that our relationship subsists and will endure, in any way I can I promise to remain your brother and Compatriot.
To some of us returning, we shall hold aloft the banner of comradeship, knowing that the job of nation building cannot be concluded in a session, by a set of people, rather one that everyone just gets to do his part and pass the baton, which starts significantly with the choice of who leads the house, as Speaker, a position that I humbly seek your support to occupy at the 9th Assembly.
I commit to uniting us and sustain our bond to the envy of all.
I will build on the past with your support and chart a productive and fulfilling course for everyone of us. We will work together.
Even if we part from the chamber, we shall remain together in our hearts because what binds us remain with us. Therein everyone has a place wether returning or departing colleague.
I will miss you my departing friends but I am consoled by the fact that this is not an eternal separation. Insha Allah I will keep in touch.
May God Bless Nigeria.
May God bless us all.
Hon. Umaru Bago.
6th June , 2019.