BY ENIOLA BELLO
Alhassan Ado Doguwa, majority leader in the House of Representatives, is undoubtedly very prodigious in the other room, and unashamedly proudly voluble of being so. Responding to Minority Leader Ndidi Elumelu’s congratulatory message while the House was in plenary on Tuesday, Doguwa, in confirming the birth of child No.28, said, “It is no longer news because this thing happened in the last 24 hours. It is true my beloved family has gotten an additional one person. It is a baby girl. Bouncing! The mother and the baby are hale and hearty. The husband is still active. I thank God that I kept my word with the House while I had 27, I promised you that I would continue counting… and the count would continue.”
And he wasn’t done. “Now that we are considering the Electoral Act amendment (Bill), I would also add when we get to the floor, perhaps in the Committee of the Whole, I will appeal to members so that we suspend relevant rules and we have a clause in the Electoral Act, where it permits families that do have up to 30 kids in their homes, to have an electoral polling unit in that family”, he said supposedly in jest, but not without vowing to sire child No.30 before the 2023 elections.
Media reports have treated Doguwa’s statement, in plenary, on a very personal matter of how productive he has been at the home front, in what I would call, for want of a better name, penis democracy, as no more than a joke.If it was indeed a joke, it’s one requiring serious interrogation. Since this House Leader seems to have developed the art of making the products of his conjugal excesses a subject of debate in plenary, we should not leave the debate to his colleagues on the floor of the House – we should add our voices. For last Tuesday’s drama was not the first time Doguwa would entertain the House with his domestic peccadilloes. Only in January 2020, while taking the oath as lawmaker representing Tudun Wada/Doguwa federal constituency in Kano State following a re-run election, he had, while requesting his four wives sitting in the gallery to stand up for recognition, said:
“Mr. Speaker, I would like to let you know that with me today here are my four respected wives. I have asked them to rise to respect the House… and to let you know that when members call me a powerful man, I am not only powerful on the floor of the House, I am also powerful at home because I deal with four wives. These four wives you are seeing, Mr. Speaker, have produced 27 children for me and I’m still counting.”
Were Doguwa’s statement wholly or partly made in jest, we cannot afford, for more reasons than one, so to treat. Doguwa disrespects his family, his constituents, his colleagues and Nigerians each timehe announces the birth of a new baby in plenary simply to keep his wordwhenhe had 27 children and promised that“I would continue counting”. The House is not a birth registration, no, birth counting centre. Those House members who may want to congratulate, nay celebrate, with Doguwa could find enough time for that indulgence outside of plenary. It is unlikely his constituents elected him to play the jester on the floor of the House every time he has a new baby. We do know that the time he wastes in plenary to revel in the increase in the number ofhis children is paid for with collective resources.The lawmakers of a nation weighed down by challenges of insecurity, unemployment, high inflation and hunger should not have time for the silly-joke-distraction of an entitled member. Neither should patriotic citizens allow their elected representatives make light of serious national issues at their expense. There are other associated issues, which are even more fundamental.
One, there is no indication from his profile that Doguwa, all his adult life, has ever embarked on any productive activity outside of politics. After graduating in Mass Communication at Bayero University, Kano in 1990, Doguwa immediately joined politics. Two years later, he was elected on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) to the House of Representatives in the aborted Third Republic. At different times between 2000 and May 2007, he was Special Adviser on the Environment to Kano State governor; on Governmental Affairs to Senate President Adolphus Wabara; and on Political Affairs to Senate President Ken Nnamani. He has since 2007 been a member of the House of Representatives for four consecutive terms, and with his earlier sojourn in the short-lived Third Republic, a fifth term member. Chief Whip in the 8th House and the “all-powerful” House Leader in the 9th, Doguwa has, as most politicians in this clime are wont, been an economic leech, living an unearned opulence funnelled from the state for all of 30 years. Were he an employee or an entrepreneur earning money the hard way, it is improbable he would have the liverto father all of 28 children and would find the vocal cords to be “still counting.”
Two, Nigeria is presently battling a crisis of population explosion amidst dwindling resources. Years of bad governance, particularly in Doguwa’s northwest zone, which has kept millions of children out of school, depriving them of education and life-sustaining skills, has caused pervasive poverty and made that part of the country a breeding ground for drug addiction, religious extremism, banditry and terrorism. On the streets of Kano are thousands of almajiri, non-school going children, forced to make begging a way of life, and constituting serious social security risk as they disperse to other major towns and cities across the country. The almajiri syndrome is a product of irresponsible child-making by men who have neither the education nor the skills to cater for their own needs yet get married or are beneficiaries of state-organised marriages, and father children they are unable to train. Political authorities in that state have failed or refused to take appropriate measures to stem the tide despite the sustained campaigns of Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II until he was deposed. With Doguwa’s education, knowledge, position and privileged background, one would have expected he would be a role model of sort, the face of the campaign against indiscriminate siring of children. How would a 56-year-old man with 28 children, and still threatening to have more, advise the ordinary people about the benefits of family planning?
Three, Doguwa swears by his four wives and sees himself as powerful because, as he once told Daily Trust, he has control over them. “What I did on the floor of the House, for me, was an act of pride. For my four wives, it was an act of pride, and all of them went home very happy. It’s because I have control over them. I’m not a soldier, I’m a democrat, and for me to bring together my four wives to the floor of the House and they all played along with me in peace, that goes to confirm that I’m a reliable husband. I’m a just husband”, Doguwa had said in response to media criticism of his wives’ parade on the floor of the House back then in 2020. It is rather interesting that Doguwa’s lexis in describing his relationshipwithhis wives were centred on power and control. Not love! Not respect! It’s not unlikely that Doguwa sees women as useful only for childbearing. Remember he introduced his four wives on the floor of the House not on the strength of their education and accomplishments, but on the total number of children they have. Of the 28 children, we do not know who has what number of children among the four wives. But taking a hypothetical average, each wife would have 7.5 children. Considering the energy, time and patience required in pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood, it would be difficult for Doguwa’s wives to live any other life outside of being perpetual nursing mothers. Yet, the House Leader says he’s not done; that he plans to have two more children before 2023. Good for him.
One last thing. Doguwa said he would appeal to his colleagues to suspend the House rules and include a clause in the Electoral Act allowing families that have up to 30 children to have polling units in their compound. We should look beyond the joke to the thoughts shaping it. The Yoruba have a saying, inuawada lati nmoooto – it’s from jokes that truth rears its head.If events in the National Assembly since 1999 were any guide, we know that our lawmakers place greater importance on matters affecting their interests than issues of public good. During the Obasanjo administration, the leadership of the National Assembly once colluded with the presidency to smuggle a clause into a law. So, we should take nothing for granted.
Doguwa should be treated with suspicion. Although he is said to have graduated first class, he is simply one entitled politician whose world view on women belongs somewhere in the 14thCentury. A politician who has mastered the House’s intrigues and power play, Doguwa, having been Chief Whip in the 8th House and Leader in the 9th, is in pole position to emerge Speaker in the 10th in the likely possibility the ruling APC (All Progressives Congress) has majority members. Imagine a Speaker Doguwa for four years! It wouldn’t be surprising to have on the list of his agenda the siring of additional 10 children, since he appears to be in competition to outperform his late father who had over 40 children. For Doguwa, the person and the politician, it’s all power without control.