Distinguished Honourable Colleagues, it is with heart full of gratitude that I give this valedictory speech. Indeed, I have always been looking forward to this day from inception of the time I was beckoned upon to serve as Speaker of this House of Assembly. And I must state that my 8 years of service (the fifth and sixth assembly) in leading this parliament worth it with the cooperation of you my colleagues, members of other arms of government as well as the good people of the State of Osun. To every beginning, there must be an end. Hence, a day like this is inevitable.
Distinguished Colleagues, you would recall that I was not the best among you but you saddled me with the responsibility to lead the parliament. I do not take the privilege for granted or lightly. More so, after giving me such privilege, you stood by me through thick and thin to ensure we succeeded together. This was evident in your selflessness, dedication to service and decorum demonstrated throughout our legislative debates and committee deliberation sessions of this House. You are all, indeed, wonderful.
Through our collaborative efforts in legislative governance, Henry Ford’s saying kept resonating in me that: coming together is the beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. It is on this premise that I would like to state that despite our challenges, we actually achieved some sterling feats. A few of these achievements include: the Staff Autonomy which became more efficient through the State House of Assembly Commission; the facelift of the Assembly Complex; the Assembly Chapel; and the Assembly Electronic Library which facilitates Honourable Members’ access to quality information resources on legislative procedures and democratic governance. All these are aside the invaluable Bills enacted by this parliament under my stewardship which, for instance, have helped to strengthen our security system as well as enhance access to healthcare facilities and other developmental polices in our great State.
It should also be borne in mind, Respected Colleagues, that your judicious understanding which became manifest in letting go of some statutory benefits as lawmakers was fascinating. Specifically, I would like to appreciate your cooperation in the regard that we deprived ourselves entitlement to official cars in a bid to cut the cost of governance and ensure the meagre resources the State had were channelled to infrastructural development, youth employment and the school feeding programme. I must commend you all because this selflessness was instrumental to the replication of the State noble programmes at the national level; for example, the N-Power could be likened to the O-YES; and the school feeding programme which has endeared many of our children to schools began in this Land of Virtue.
Likewise, I need to say that throughout my stewardship as Speaker, this House of Assembly had never been in the news for any negative reason. There had never been any fisticuffs, mace theft or kickboxing in this Parliament. It was not because I knew it all while we had our legislative sittings; but rather your high level of thoughtfulness and decorum engendered our unbeaten records as lawmakers worthy of emulation. I have no doubt that this would continue in subsequent assembly with a view to continuing the good legacies we have all laid down.
Also, I cannot underrate the God factor. God has been Kind to us all. And that is why religious programmes which are held in the Assembly mosque like the Ramadan lecture and at the chapel like the Easter Retreat and Christmas Carol should be continued under my successor. Doing this will go a long way to strengthen our strategic spiritual intelligence which has valuable effects on our physical, emotional and cerebral intelligence. More so, we must not forget the counsel of Abraham Lincoln that, “My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”
Likewise, my candid pieces of advice to whomever becomes my successor as Speaker of this House is to be very patient in all his dealings, just and be a listening leader to all sides of the divides. I was in no way perfect but having listened to all divides with rapt attention and objectivity within and outside the chamber greatly enriched my political and administrative knowledge base. I must confess that the journey so far with all my colleagues here was really worth it and eye-opening to your depth of understanding and grasp of issues bothering on governance.
At this juncture, I would like to recognize the personalities with whom I have served. Notably, our former Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, for the fruitful working relationship. I do understand that while we worked together, some people called us all sorts of names ; some even tagged us ‘Rubber-Stamp Assembly’. Meanwhile, if working with him to pursue the interest of the State and its continuous development was rubber stamp, we were not in the least deterred. More so, our great party – the All Progressives Congress (APC) has its blueprint and manifesto on governance to which we had all subscribed to see to fruition; and I am glad that we indeed gave our best in the pursuit of progressive programmes for our dear State. Therefore, I encourage my successor to work with other arms of government with a view to enhancing the development in the State while also upholding the independence of the legislature.
Additionally, I would like to thank my Deputy Speaker, Hon Akintunde Adegboye, for his supportive relationship throughout our service to the State. Despite the age difference, he never looked down on me but gave undiluted support always. I am very grateful, sir. Importantly, my sincere appreciation also goes to all members of the House of Assembly with whom I have worked tirelessly to ensure we leave great legacies in the sands of time.
Equally, I thank the incumbent Governor, His Excellency, Alhaji Isiaka Gboyega Oyetola, for all he is doing and will do for the State. Also, I am thankful to the State Party Chairman, Prince Gboyega Famodun, and all members of our party for their commitment to seeing us soar higher. Keep the flag flying as the APC remains the party to continue leading the State and our nation with progressive ideologies and policies.
I, humbly, show my heartfelt gratefulness to my constituent (Ejigbo State constituency) who entrusted me with their mandate to serve in this parliament; as well as all constituencies of the State. Without your mandates, we would not have made our marks in our service to humanity. Through your mandates, we came, we saw and indeed, we conquered. We thank you greatly. Also my appreciation goes to staffs of the House of Assembly civil service commission and House of Assembly, you have been supportive over the years, May almighty God grant all your heart desires.
Lastly, I want to thank my family members for their understanding and forbearance while official duties took me far away from them. I do not take your understanding for granted in any way; and now that I have served, my coming back home would be filled with delighted moments. To all my staff who have gradually become part of my one big family, thank you for your demonstrated professionalism and enthusiasm in the face of official challenges. You all have been amazing people to work with.
In the end, I would like to say: to err is human and to forgive is divine. Wherever I have erred, I do seek your indulgence to overlook because no one walks without the head shaking; and wherever I have done greatly too, it is certainly with the help of Almighty Allah.
Thank you and God bless you.
Rt. Hon. Najeem Folasayo Salaam Phd