The Majority Leader of the 8th Senate, Ahmad Lawan, and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on Tuesday emerged as the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House, respectively.
Both Lawan and Gbajabiamila are members of the ruling All Progressives Congress.
In the Senate, Lawan polled 79 votes to defeat another ex-Senate Majority Leader, Ali Ndume, who scored 28 votes.
Also, the senator representing Delta Central Senatorial District, Ovie Omo-Agege, was elected the Deputy Senate President with 68 votes, while his challenger who is the immediate occupant of the seat, Ike Ekweremadu, scored 37.
Omo-Agege is a member of the APC while Ekweremadu is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party.
In the Senate, the Clerk to the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani-Omolori, declared that Lawan and Omo-Agege won the election.
The election was almost marred initially by an uproar that erupted when Sani-Omolori, after reading the Presidential proclamation, announced that the election of the presiding officers would be conducted through an open-secret method based on the provisions contained in the 2015 Senate Rule as amended.
A senator-elect from Kano North Senatorial District, Barau Jibrin, had raised a point of order to draw the attention of the clerk to a court order which mandated the management to conduct the election based on the 2011 Senate Rules which provided for open ballot.
His protest was countered by advocates of secret ballot method led by the PDP senators and the development degenerated into a rowdy session which lasted for about five minutes.
The noise invariably fizzled out when Sani-Omolori told the protesters that they had no voice until they were sworn in.
The Head of the National Assembly Management then invited the Clerk of the Senate, Nelson Ayewoh, to take the roll of the senators-elect in attendance, alphabetically starting from Abia State.
At the end of the roll-call, Ayewoh announced that 107 out of the 109 senators-elect were in the chamber.
He said the election should continue because they had undisputedly formed a quorum.
The voting session started at about 10:30am.
An APC senator-elect from Kebbi North, Yahaya Abdullahi, nominated Lawan for the position of the Senate President while his colleague representing Lagos West, Adeola Olamilekan, seconded the nomination.
The clerk asked Lawan if he wanted to accept the nomination and the Yobe North senator noted that his emergence as the Senate President would be an opportunity to work with his colleagues and make use of the institution to provide good governance for Nigerians through legislative intervention.
He said, “As representatives of Nigerians, we are in it together and we need to ensure that the institution provide constitutional support for the government to function.”
The clerk thereafter called for the nomination of any other senator-elect that wanted to contest against Lawan.
The representative of Adamawa North Senatorial District, Ishiaku Abu, thereafter, nominated a member from Borno South, Ndume, for the position of the Senate President while Bari Npigi from Rivers State, seconded the nomination.
Ndume, in his acceptance speech, said he wanted to be senators’ president by dismantling the office of the Senate President and work interdependently with the executive without compromising the constitution.
He pledged to deepen the President Muhammadu Buhari’s agenda, block leakages in budgeting and ensure that the Senate under him would need just three months to pass the budget.
Casting of votes ended at 11.56am and the Clerk to the Senate invited those who nominated the candidates to witness the counting of the ballots.
After the sorting and counting of the polls, Lawan scored 79 votes while Ndume got 28 votes.
The Clerk to the National Assembly announced the results and declared Lawan winner of the election.
The stage was then set for the election of the Deputy Senate President and a senator-elect, Ahmad Baba Kaita, nominated Omo-Agege while Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi seconded his nomination.
Omo-Agege, who accepted his nomination, promised to assist the newly-elected President of the Senate to actualise his dreams.
Similarly, Senator Chukwuka Utazi nominated Ekweremadu for the same position while Rose Okoh seconded his nomination.
The former DSP in his acceptance speech noted that he had worked with two former Senate presidents without acrimony.
He lamented that his intention to contest was informed by the need to preserve the sanctity of the legislature.
After the election, Omo-Agege polled 68 votes to defeat Ekweremadu who scored 37. The clerk concluded the inauguration and the election of presiding officers of the ninth Senate at about 2pm.
The new President of the Senate thereafter presided over the swearing-in of other elected senators which was conducted by the Clerk of the Senate.
I’ll be fair to all, senators will be my bosses – Lawan
Lawan in his acceptance speech, pledged to be fair to his colleagues irrespective of their political, ethnic or religious affiliation.
He said, “Elections are over. It shows that we voted for a united Senate and it is clear that the outcome is bipartisan. All parties including the PDP and the Young Peoples Party voted for me and with the outcome, the 9th Senate is ready to take off as a united Senate.
“Today means so many things. It is the commencement of another decade of our democracy and we will work to ensure best global parliamentary practices among other things.”
I don’t see myself as a loser, APC must commend me – Ndume
On his part, Ndume demanded commendation from the APC for the role he played in ensuring that the elections which produced the presiding officers of the red chamber on Tuesday were free, fair and credible.
Ekweremadu also expressed satisfaction with his participation in the presiding officers’ election which he lost to Omo-Agege.
He said, “I have made my point and my colleagues have made their choice. It is now for us all to join hands across all divides to work for the success of the 9th Senate and the National Assembly as well as the peace and prosperity of our nation.
“I am deeply indebted in gratitude to the good people of Enugu West and well-meaning Nigerians, whose support and prayers have seen me this far. They can rest assured that I will continue to give them quality representation.”
With 281 votes Gbajabiamila floors Bago to become Speaker
The Clerk to the National Assembly conducted the House’ polls shortly after the Senate’s. Sani-Omolori then called for nominations for speakership position.
The Director-General of the Gbajabiamila Speakership Campaign Council, Mr Abdulmumin Jibrin, nominated Gbajabiamila, saying he was “our choice, the choice of all parties, the choice of other opposition parties, the choice of the President, the choice of stakeholders, the choice of the business community, the choice of the civil society, the choice of youth, the choice of women and the choice of students.”
Seconding Jibrin’s motion nominating Gbajabiamila, Mrs Linda Ikpeazu of the PDP said, “I stand to second the nomination of a nation-builder, a man who believes in the unity of this country and is committed towards the attainment of that unity.”
Accepting the nomination, Gbajabiamila said, “With a great sense of humility, I will stand on the nomination address of Honourable Jibrin. I have nothing else to add.”
Also, Abubakar Ahmed from Gombe State, who was booed during his speech, nominated Bago.
Ahmed said, “Today, we are standing at the threshold of his history where sentiment must give way to fact and reason; where morality must guide our conduct; where national interest must supersede personal, partisan or pecuniary interests. The sacred oath of office will soon be administered on us, using that small book that will define our conduct and guide our functions in the next four years.”
Seconding the motion, another member, Mr Mark Gbillah, said Bago was a “non-partisan, focused, educated, respected and capable gentleman.”
Bago accepted the nomination, saying, “This aspiration is not an ambition of Bago.”
After the election, Gbajabiamila won the speakership seat with 281 votes out of the 358 members-elect in attendance, to defeat Bago from Niger State, who got 76 votes. There was one invalid vote. Bago is also a member of the APC.
Earlier, shortly after Bago’s 76 votes were counted, the aspirant proceeded to Gbajabiamila’s seat and hugged the winner and his campaign manager, Jibrin.
Many other lawmakers also approached the new Speaker to congratulate him even while his votes were still being counted.
Gbajabiamila, Jibrin and other loyalists went to embrace the immediate past Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara.
Bago, who had shunned the APC’s leadership instructions to step down for Gbajabiamila, also went to the National Chairman of the ruling party, Adams Oshiomhole, and took photographs with him.
Gbajabiamila, a fifth-term member of the lower chamber, was Minority Leader in the 7th House and later Majority Leader in the 8th House.
The nomination of the APC’s candidate for Deputy Speaker, Mr Idris Wase, was unopposed. He was unanimously adopted by the lawmakers for the seat.
Gbajabiamila promises reforms, says Reps’ll ‘shake the table’
In his speech, Gbajabiamila promised to reform the federal parliament.
He said, “There comes a time in the life and history of a people when they interrogate the past and present, review past sacrifices, miscalculations and errors and collectively decide to opt for change, peace and progress. We are at such a moment in this country. Honourable colleagues of the 9th Assembly, this is our time, this is our moment and history beckons.
“The 9th Assembly under my leadership is going to be a House of reforms or if you like; a reform Assembly. The reforms will be dished out piecemeal and at intervals so as not to shock the system. Moving forward, therefore my dear colleagues, it will not be business as usual and we will be shaking the table just a little.”
…appoints ex-Zamfara Speaker as CoS
Gbajabiamila also announced the appointment of the former Speaker of the Zamfara State House of Assembly, Mr Sanusi Rikiji, as his Chief of Staff, saying the appointee “comes with a wealth of legislative experience and I believe his inclusion in this Assembly will add immense value.”
Buhari hails Lawan, Gbajabiamila, knocks Saraki, Dogara again
Meanwhile, Buhari has congratulated Lawan and Gbajabiamila for emerging as the leaders of the 9th National Assembly.
The President in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, on Tuesday, described their emergence as “a new dawn different from the duplicity and perfidy that characterised the 8th National Assembly” led by immediate past Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, and an ex-Speaker, Dogara.
“The President also salutes all the national legislators and their political parties for their display of patriotism and non-partisanship before and during the election.
“He commends the transparent and fair nature of the voting process, adjudging it as a plus for the democracy in the country,” the statement added.
Buhari advised the leadership to use their exalted positions to work for the interest of Nigerians.
The President also touched on executive-legislature relationship, saying, “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.”
The President added, “Stepping into the Next Level, the legislature has a big role to play for the goals of the administration to be achieved…This is for the ultimate good of the nation.”
He also called on the contestants, who lost the election to “be gallant in defeat, and join hands with the victors who should exhibit magnanimity and eschew vindictiveness.”
Those against APC on NASS leadership have been humbled – Oshiomhole
But addressing journalists shortly before the House election, Oshiomhole said those who criticised the APC on the choice of its candidates had been humbled.
He said, “For those who thought something was wrong with the APC, I think the outcome of the Senate election will humble them, not just for the victory but for the size of the defeat. They insisted on secret ballot which is not good enough because in parliament the constituents must know how their representatives are voting.
“That will be the basis of supporting them in the future. But if the vote is secret, it means that they are not accountable. But they insisted that it must be secret ballot. It is okay.
“We have worked hard to let our people (lawmakers) recognise that Nigerians, with their eyes open, gave the APC the executive; they also gave us the overwhelming majority in the two arms of the National Assembly. I think that in doing that, they expect that this time around, the APC would have no excuse not to deliver. We cannot say that we are being blocked by the parliament.
“The parliament is ours and those who don’t believe in ‘change’ cannot be entrusted with the challenge of managing the ‘change.’ That is why I said we must give the position of responsibility to those who believe in our ‘change’ agenda. So, today, that has been translated. You can just imagine how I feel; like a mother, we are on the verge of giving birth to twins in the two chambers of the National Assembly.
“For me, it is our finest hour, particularly when you bear in mind what happened in 2015. It is the mischief of 2015 that we have tried to correct, and I am happy that it has been settled.”
Save Nigeria from Buhari’s misrule, PDP tells lawmakers
However, the National Working Committee of the PDP on Tuesday congratulated the 9th National Assembly.
The PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, said, “The 9th National Assembly 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 PDP reminds NASS members to bear in mind that their allegiance is to the people and the constitution and not to any particular leader or group.”
We won’t sanction our lawmakers – PDP
But the PDP said that it would not sanction its senators and members of the House of Representatives for not heeding to the directive of the party on the candidates to vote for during the .election.
The PDP Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr Diran Odeyemi, in a response to The PUNCH in Abuja on Tuesday said, “There is nothing new in what happened and it is not unexpected… There is no reason to sanction anyone and come to think of it, it was an open secret balloting which does not leave room for identifying who voted for or against the party’s directive.”