National Assembly: APC takes firm control as Lawan, Gbajabiamila win
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has taken a firm control of the National Assembly as its anointed candidates Ahmad Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila emerged Senate President and House of Representatives Speaker respectively.
Lawan defeated Mohammed Ali Ndume, while Gbajabiamila beat Mohammed Umaru Bago yesterday. In 2015, Senator Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara went against the party’s decision and to control of the Senate and House respectively. The two eventually dumped the APC for the opposition PDP and retained their seats.
In his acceptance speech, Lawan said the contest was over and that it was time for all senators to get down to business irrespective of party affiliations. “We are going to work collaboratively with the Executive arm of government to strengthen our planning and budget linkage that ensures effective service delivery and fulfilment of essential government obligations to the citizens, while taking care of the perennial delays in our annual appropriation bill passage and implementation. “We will embark upon a sustained pursuit of national ethical renewal, through legislative and political support for the fight against corruption and other major security challenges that Nigeria faces today, namely rural and highway banditry, inter-ethnic conflicts, herdsmen and farmers’ conflicts, cattle rustling, kidnapping and all other forms of criminality in the country.
“We have a plan to make Nigeria an economic growth hub and the most sought after business destination in Africa. This is to be achieved through legislative and policy coordination with the Executive arm of government to put in place the necessary reforms and legal instruments that promote the diversification and investment in the critical (real and service) sectors of the Nigerian economy,” he said. On his part, Gbajabiamila said “The 9th Assembly under my leadership is going to be a House of reforms or a reformed Assembly. The reforms will be dished out piecemeal and at intervals so as not to shock the system. “Moving forward therefore, it will not be business as usual and we will be shaking the table just a little. We will be introducing various reforms that will reposition this institution but please rest assured that they will be for the greater good. “On our shoulders lies the responsibility of working together as a House to safeguard the future of our great country.
The House must be reformed before the country can be reformed. We simply cannot and must not fail.” Gbajabiamila announced the appointment of Sanusi Rikiji, the former Speaker of Zamfara State as his Chief of Staff. He said Nigeria was currently facing myriad of problems, urging the lawmakers to set aside political, ideological and other differences that may distract them from the herculean assignment. “My deputy Hon Ahmed Idris and I come with a cumulative 30 year legislative experience which we intend to deploy in making our vision a reality,” he said.
APC, PDP react
The ruling APC says the election of its legislators as principal officers of the 9th National Assembly was the defeat of impunity of minority party. The APC National Publicity Secretary, Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu, while reacting to the development yesterday, said it was also a triumph of democracy and party politics over the brazen lawlessness of anti-democratic forces nestled in the opposition party. “This is a clear departure from the shenanigans of the last National Assembly leadership, let us therefore make a new start, and move forward to meet the great challenges we face and deliver on our Change Agenda and Next Level manifesto.
“The 9th National Assembly must now immediately address itself to delivering critical legislative intervention to enable the President Muhammadu Buhari administration succeed for the benefit of the Nigerian people and ensure the smooth running of government,” he said. The PDP also in a statement yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan congratulated the new National Assembly leadership. “The PDP also commends all those that made the contest robust for helping to deepen our democratic practice. “The PDP will always stand on the side of decency and utmost respect for the institution of the National Assembly and the values we hold as a people,” the statement said.
“The 9th National Assembly therefore must work hard to save our nation from the prevailing despondency caused by the misrule of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, by effectively applying its statutory legislative instruments to guarantee good governance and fiscal prudence, curb corruption, check the excesses of the executive and protect the rights of Nigerians from incessant violations,” the statement added.
How APC’s candidates emerged leaders
All the four presiding officers for the 9th National Assembly that emerged yesterday were the choice candidates of the ruling APC. Senate President Ahmad Lawan, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege and Deputy Speaker Ahmed Idris Wase were all anointed by APC. While Lawan battled a former Senate Leader Mohammed Ali Ndume, Omo-Agege slugged it out with former Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, who had earlier denied reports that he would re-contest for the seat. Of the 107 senators present at the inauguration, Lawan polled 79 votes to defeat Ndume, who scored 28 votes. On the other hand, Omo-Agege polled 68 votes to defeat Ekweremadu, who got 37 votes, even as one vote was voided.
Before the commencement of the voting, Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA) Mohammed Sani-Omolori read the letter by President Muhammadu Buhari proclaiming the 9th Assembly. Sani-Omolori stated the mode of electing presiding officers, which is by open-secret ballot as provided by the Senate Standing Rules of 2015. There was a mild protest from some APC senators, who said there was a court order directing that the election should be by open ballot. But the clerk said he was not in receipt of the order. After the roll call of senators-elect, Sani-Omolori called for nominations for the office of Senate President, and an APC senator-elect from Kebbi State, Yahaya Abdullahi Kebbi, nominated Lawan at exactly 10:32.am and seconded by another APC member from Lagos State, Adeola Solomon Olamilekan.
Lawan accepted at 10:34.am and used the opportunity to tell his colleagues why he was in the contest. Then came Ndume’s nomination by a PDP senator-elect from Adamawa State, Ishaku Abbo, at10:41.am, which was seconded by another PDP member from Rivers State Mpigi Bariga. Ndume accepted at 10:42. He also told his colleagues about his aspiration. Voting commenced at 10:55.am and ended an hour later at exactly 11:55.am. In the presence of about 15 APC governors and the APC National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole, the new Senate President was declared and the Clerk administered oath of allegiance and oath of office on him at 12:18.pm.
The election of Deputy Senate President began at 12:38.pm after Senator Ahmad Babba Kaita (APC, Katsina) nominated Omo-Agege and it was seconded by Sen Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger). In what appeared to be a surprise to many, Sen Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu) nominated Ekweremadu for the position, and it was seconded by another PDP member, Rose Oko from Cross River State. At the end of the election at 1:30.pm, Ekweremadu was defeated. In the House, Rep Abdulmumin Jibrin (APC, Kano) nominated Gbajabiamila for speaker at about 3:09.pm.
The motion was seconded by a PDP member from Abia State, Linda Ikpeazu. Bago was then nominated by an APC member from Gombe State Abubakar Yunusa Ahmad at 3:20.pm. It was seconded by a PDP member from Benue State, Mark Terseer Gbillah. At the end of the exercise, Gbajabiamila polled 281 votes, while Bago scored 76 votes. As for the deputy speaker, Wase was nominated unopposed and was duly declared winner. Some of the APC governors present included Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Babangana Umara Zulum (Borno), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Yayaha Bello (Kogi), Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (Kano), among others. There were many other dignitaries at inauguration.
Buhari: Executive doesn’t desire a rubber stamp legislature
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday described the emergence of the new presiding officers as “a new daw.” Buhari in a statement by his spokesperson, Femi Adesina saluted all the national legislators and their political parties for their display of patriotism and non-partisanship before and during the election. He commended the transparent and fair nature of the voting process, adjudging it as a plus for the democracy in the country. The President charged the winners to use their exalted positions for the higher interest of the country, her people, and for the growth of democracy.
“The Executive does not desire a rubber stamp Legislature. While separation of powers is essential, collaboration among all Arms of Government should be the name of the game. Opposition need not be virulent,” he said. Buhari noted that, “Stepping into the Next Level, the legislature has a big role to play for the goals of the administration to be achieved,” stressing that, “This is for the ultimate good of the nation.” He urged contestants who lost out to be gallant in defeat, and join hands with the victors who should exhibit magnanimity and eschew vindictiveness. “At the end of the day, we, the people, who elected our representatives at the national level, are the winners,” he said.Read more