BY JONATHAN NDA-ISAIAH, AHURAKA ISAH, SUNDAY ISUWA AND KAUTHAR ANUMBA-KHALEEL, Abuja
The game plan of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for the 9th National Assembly (NASS) election worked out yesterday as the party’s “anointed” candidates won all the principal offices of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The new leaders, who immediately unveiled their agenda for the federal legislature and Nigerians, promised to be fair to all the lawmakers and the citizens of the country.
The victorious NASS principal officers are Senator Ahmad Lawan (Senate President), Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (Deputy Senate President), Hon. Femi Gbajiabiamila (Speaker of the House of Representatives), and Idris Wase (Deputy Speaker), who was unopposed.
After the tension-soaked and gruelling contests in both chambers of the Assembly, Lawan emerged the Senate president with 79 votes to defeat his rival, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, who got 28 votes from the 107 senators that took part in the exercise.
Gbajabiamila repeated the winning streak in the Green Chamber when he defeated his main opponent, Hon. Mohammed Umar Bago with 281 votes to 76 votes from the 258 members that participated in the election.
A common theme of fairness, justice and equity for all the lawmakers and other Nigerians irrespective of their religion, ethnic and political party affiliations ran through Lawan and Gbajiabiamila victory speeches.
After the Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), Mohammed Ataba Sani-Omolori, administered the oaths of allegiance and office on him as well as the inauguration of the entire senators-elect, Lawan promised to be fair to his colleagues across board.
Lawan said that the Senate under his leadership would ensure justice to all as well as perform his role for the benefit of all Nigerians.
He added that “now the elections are over and it shows that we voted for a united Senate and it is clear that the outcome is bipartisan. All the political parties including the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Young Progressives Party (YPP) voted for me and with this 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,” he said.
Lawan, from Yobe State in the North East zone, further pledged to ensure a secure and a prosperous future for the citizens.
He assured the lawmakers that he would run a Senate that would be responsive to the needs of the masses whose mandate the senators held.
The Senate president therefore called for the support of his colleagues to ensure a robust Senate, adding that “we will not settle for anything less than the best. We will dream big, aim high and take good initiatives.”
Lawan pointed out that the agenda of the 9th Senate would include improved Information Communication Technology (ICT), collaboration with the Executive arm of government to tackle cattle rustling, kidnapping and other crimes bedeviling the country.
He said that the 9th Senate would address youth unemployment, high rate of suicide, depression, corruption, insecurity among others.
According to him, “the Senate will be independent while working with the executive. We will choose unity of purpose instead of conflict.”
Before the election, the PDP which has 44 senators had declared in the wee hours of Monday that it was backing Ndume for the Senate presidency race.
While announcing the winner, Sani-Omolori said that senators present in the chamber cast a total 107 votes.
‘’It is my pleasure to announce that senator-elect, Ahmad Lawan, having scored the highest number of total votes cast is hereby returned duly elected as Senate president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’’, he declared.
When Sani-Omolori called for nomination of candidates, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi (Kebbi North, APC) moved a motion for Lawan’s nomination and concomitantly seconded by Senator Adeola Solomon Olamilekan, an APC senator representing Lagos West.
This was just as Senator Ishaku Abbo (Adamawa, PDP) moved a motion for Senator Ndume’s nomination, which was seconded by Senator Barry Impigi (Rivers, PDP).
Also, the senators elected Omo-Agege as Lawan’s deputy, who defeated the immediate past Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who recorded 37 votes, with one voided vote.
Meanwhile, the new Senate president has adjourned the plenary till tomorrow.
In the same manner, Gbajiabiamila, who immediately appointed former Zamfara State House of Assembly speaker, Hon. Sanusi Rikiji, as his chief of staff, promised to embark on reforms because “it will no longer be business as usual.”
The new speaker said that “I understand that I hold this office in trust for you and Nigerians. Conscious of this sacred trust I hereby dedicate myself to the service of this House and of the good citizens of this great country, with the commitment that I shall at all times strive to defend the constitution of our republic.
“I equally commit myself to always observe the tenets of justice, equity and fairness in my dealings with my colleagues, and to apply the ideals of transparency, probity and accountability in my management of the affairs of this House,” he said.
Gbajiabiamila said that the 9th Assembly under his leadership would be a “House of reforms or if you like a reform Assembly. The reforms will be dished out in 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. We will be introducing various reforms that will reposition this institution but please be 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,” he stated.
Gbajiabiamila urged his colleagues to brace up to the challenges, adding that Nigerians were looking up to them. “There’s much work to be done in such little time. Let’s roll our sleeves and get to work. Nigerians are waiting.”
He thanked President Muhammadu Buhari, APC leaders and the lawmakers across party lines for the confidence reposed in him.
Voting on the floor of the House commenced at 3:35 pm soon after Sani-Omolori entered the Green Chamber after the emergence of the presiding officers of the Senate.
The clerk kicked off the event by reading proclamation from President Buhari declaring 11th June, 2019 for the inauguration of the 9th National Assembly after which a roll call of members was taken and nominations made.
A mild protest occurred at about 3.58pm when Hon. Tajudeen Yusuf (PDP, Kogi) protested that lawmakers were taking pictures of the ballot papers after voting. Sani-Omolori quickly intervened saying “any member is free to use his ballot the way he chooses.”
Gbajiabiamila was nominated by the director-general of his campaign organisation, Hon. Abdulmumuni Jibrin, which was seconded by Hon. Linda Chuba-Ikpeazu.
His opponent, Bago was nominated by Hon. Yunusa Abubakar Ahmed and seconded by Hon. Mark Terseer Gbillah.
After the over three hours’ voting which was supervised by the Clerk of the House, Patrick Giwa, Sani-Omolori announced the winner as he said: “Femi Gbajabiamila, having secured more than half of required votes, is hereby returned elected and declared speaker of the House of Representatives.”
Their Emergence New Dawn For Nigeria – PMB
In his congratulatory message to Lawan and Gbajiabiamila, President Buhari saluted all the national legislators and their political parties for their display of patriotism and non-partisanship before and during the election.
The president in a statement issued by his special adviser media, Mr Femi Adesina, commended the transparent and fair nature of the voting process, adjudging it as a plus for the democracy in the country.
Buhari described the emergence of the new leaders of the legislative branch of government as “a new dawn, different from duplicity and perfidy of the immediate past.”
He charged the winners to use their exalted positions for the higher interest of the country, her people, and for the growth of democracy.
Buhari said: “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.”
President 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 the 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,” Buhari stated.
I’ve No Regret, Says Ndume
After congratulating Lawan, Ndume told journalists that the APC should commend him for insisting on running in the election.
Ndume said that his action had portrayed the party as democratic, adding that he had no regret losing the election.
He said: “Party or democracy without election is not democracy. That is why it is very important to stand for and defend the constitution. Section 50 (1) of the constitution says that the senators shall elect the Senate president and his deputy from among themselves and that was what happened. When they did that election, I got 28 votes or thereabout, that is democracy in action, no matter the imperfection.
“I insisted on secret balloting because in democracy an election must be seen to be free and fair and this election was conducted freely and fairly through the open secret balloting which gives credibility to the process.
“If I had agreed with the anointment of Ahmad Lawan as the Senate President, in line with the directive of the party, there won’t have been an election and it would have dented the image of the party and the government. That is why I don’t see myself as a loser. I have won and I think the party should commend me,” he said.
Jubilation In Yobe Over Lawan’s Victory
Hundreds of youths, men and women throng on the streets of Bade local government area of Yobe State son after the news broke that Lawan had won the contest.
The people gathered at the stadium in Bade where activities such as car and horse racing were held. Some of the residents described the election of Lawan is as an act of God and a clear manifestation of the will of the majority of the senators.
The Emir of Bade who is the deputy chairman Yobe State Council of Chiefs, Alhaji Abubakar Umar Suleiman, said that “we are so happy today. We cannot control our feelings.”
He said: “We pray for him to succeed in the next four years by repositioning Nigeria. We also look forward to seeing Lawan tackling the nation’s economic challenges, strict adherence to rule of law especially in the anti-corruption fight and attitudinal change amongst Nigerians.”
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