Wednesday, 6th December 2023

Tinubu’s men lead 10th N’Assembly, vow not to be ‘rubber stamp’

By Muyiwa Adeyemi (Politics Editor), Godwin Ijediogor (Asaba), Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Adamu Abuh, Sodiq Omolaoye (Abuja), Abdulganiyu Alabi (Kaduna) and Ayoyinka Jegede (Uyo)
14 June 2023   |   4:35 am
President Bola Tinubu and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday, succeeded in getting their anointed candidates elected to lead the National Assembly, raising concerns about the independence of the second arm of government.

• ‘It’s time to get down to business,’ Tinubu tells Akpabio, Abbas • U.S. hails Nigeria on inauguration of 10th National Assembly
• Senate will support govt’s good policies and programmes, says Akpabio • Ohanaeze lists demands from ‘in-law’ Akpabio
• We’ll work in harmony with Tinubu but uphold principles of checks and balances – Abbas
• Abiodun, Eno congratulate Akpabio, Abbas • It’s beginning of new era, says PANDEF

President Bola Tinubu and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday, succeeded in getting their anointed candidates elected to lead the National Assembly, raising concerns about the independence of the second arm of government.

In an election presided over by the clerk of the National Assembly, Magaji Tambawal, the former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, polled 63 votes to defeat former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, who polled 45 votes. Jibrin Barau from Kano State emerged as Deputy Senate President without any opposition.
In the House of Representatives, the party also had its way as Tajudeen Abbas won a landslide victory, polling 353 votes as against three votes scored by each of his two challengers, Ahmed Wase and Aminu Sani Jaji.
Both Akpabio and Abbas expressed their gratitude to President Tinubu and promised to cooperate with him in ensuring good governance in Nigeria.
Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, (APC, Borno) nominated Akpabio, while Solomon Adeola (APC, Ogun) seconded Akpabio’s nomination. After Akpabio had accepted his nomination, Senator Ishaku Agbo (APC, Adamawa) nominated Yari. Jimoh Ibrahim from Ondo State seconded it.
There was a slight disruption on the floor of the Senate as Tahir Monguno (APC, Borno) raised an objection to the nomination of Yari. He claimed that the Constitution and the rule of the Senate did not permit a non-ranking Senator to be elected as Senate President.
Senators Adeola, Ndume and others supported Monguno, while Yari’s supporters kicked. The clerk overruled the objection to Yari’s nomination as he declared that there was nothing in the Senate rule book and the Constitution that precludes a non-ranking Senator from becoming a Senate President.
The sorting was interesting and both camps watched with excitement until those in Akpabio’s camp started jubilating immediately the figure of 55 was reached in their own counting.
The election to the position of deputy Senate president did not take time because there was no counter nomination to that of Barau, who had been nominated by Senator Dave Umahi and seconded by Saliu Mustapha from Kwara State.
The politics of yesterday’s election of the Senate was dramatic. The atmosphere around the premises of the National Assembly before and during the election was tense as security agencies mounted strict and rigid checks at the gates.
President Tinubu, in his reaction, called on the new leadership of the 10th National Assembly to settle down and move swiftly with the business of governance.
Rejoicing with the parliament, Tinubu, in a statement he personally signed, said “the election of Akpabio and Abbas as President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives is a good development.”
The President also congratulated Yari, Wase and Jaji for enriching the process with their participation in the leadership election. He said: “We have all been called upon and accepted the responsibility to diligently and faithfully serve our fatherland with the oath we took. It is time to get on and move swiftly with the business of governance in the service of Nigeria.
“As your president, I am prepared to transparently work with the National Assembly. Nigerians expect distinguished Senators and Honourable members to make laws and carry out oversight duties that will enhance the performance of government to achieve successful outcomes including improving their quality of life.
“In the course of our work together, disagreements may occur. When we disagree, it will not be out of malice, ill-will and quest to diminish the institution of the National Assembly or any individual member.”

MEANWHILE Akpabio has promised to work with his colleagues for expansion of the revenue streams available to the country, especially from the huge but largely unregulated natural and solid mineral resources base.
Akpabio, who spoke during his acceptance speech, also promised to engender effective oversight of the executive arm of government for responsive policies.
According to him, the expansion of revenue sources, coupled with effective oversight, which his leadership will engender to block loopholes for revenue leakages and wastages at ministries, departments and agencies, will help to shore up needed revenue for effective governance.
Akpabio also promised that his leadership will not witch-hunt his opponents in the struggle for the senate presidency, as he extended his hand of fellowship to Yari and senators who did not vote for him.
“On my part, I affirm that this leadership shall be yours. It shall be a servant leadership; it shall be an uncommon leadership. I urge you to remain hopeful, steadfast, and united. Nigerians must remember that the nation is caught up in global challenges and upheavals, which have far reaching consequences. Our Senate will remain watchful of, and will be responsive to, these events.
The Speaker, Abbas, has promised that the 10th Assembly will work in harmony with the executive arm, while upholding principles of checks and balances. He, however, emphasised that collaboration with the executive will be anchored on the principles of transparency, accountability, and respect for the rule of law.
Delivering his inaugural address, Abbas assured Nigerians and lawmakers that he won’t take the mandate bestowed on him for granted, adding: “I shall be just and fair to everyone irrespective of our perceived differences.”
Saying that the speakership campaign witnessed in the past few months was democracy at play, Abbas observed that all of that has come to pass, adding that it is time to forge ahead and work together for common good.
“Through legislation, the 10th House will promote entrepreneurship and support small and medium-scale enterprises. We shall diversify our economy and provide sustainable employment opportunities for our youth. We are aware of the challenges in our education, healthcare, and infrastructure sectors amongst others.

THE Deputy Director General, Media of the Yari Senate Presidency campaign organisation, Senator Addul Ningi, (PDP, Bauchi Central), has lauded the election of Akpabio, describing the process as free, fair and credible, without much anticipated drama. He said: “That is what makes the institution of the Senate different. The animosity and fear of what happened in the last two days completely vanished. You go into the hall and you see how people are embracing themselves and that is parliament and that is democracy.
“We have refused to be intimidated by any enforcement and that is why we said there must be an election and those who came with the idea of a theater party and the sitting government had the day. We have no problem with that, we know we are in the minority, we were in total disagreement, the election was free and fair.”
On whether the position he took was that of his party, PDP, he said it was not, but that of the minority caucus as he regretted that not all of them actually voted on the same page.
“Some people actually went to negotiate and that is parliament, but I believe in the next six months or so we are going to bind together by putting the nation first. When you come to the National Assembly, you drop the party leaning, or region.”   Akwa Ibom State governor, Umo Eno, has congratulated Akpabio on his emergence as the Senate President, pledging to work together for the advancement of the state.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Ekerete Udoh, the governor said: “On behalf of the government and the good people of Akwa Ibom, I send you our hearty congratulations on your emergence as the Senate President of the 10th National Assembly.
“I have always said that politics is over and it’s time for governance, and that demands we work across party lines to advance the cause of our development.
“We stand ready to work collaboratively with you, to move the needle of development, growth and progress of our dear state in particular and the nation in general.”
Also, Ogun State governor, Dapo Abiodun, congratulated Akpabio on his election. The governor, who personally witnessed the elections both at the Senate and House of Representatives, also congratulated Abbas.
Abiodun, in a statement issued by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information, Mr. Waheed Adesina, described the emergence of the new NASS leadership as the final fulfillment of the installation of transformational leadership in the country, which began with the election of President Tinubu.

The governor added that the emergence of both Akpabio and Abbas was in line with the decision of APC, adding that it was a testament to the confidence reposed in them by the party and their colleagues to steer the ship of the legislative arm of government.
America also sent a congratulatory message to Nigeria following a successful inauguration of the 10th National Assembly. Through its Mission in Nigeria, it wrote on Twitter: “Congratulations, Nigeria, on the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly!“
Joining in the congratulations of the new NASS leadership was Ohanaeze Ndigbo. The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation said Akapbio’s emergence as Senate President was an indication of a harmonious relationship between the executive and legislature.
In his congratulatory message, the Secretary-General of Ohanaeze, Okechukwu Isiguzoro, also made six demands of the new Senate President. Isiguzoro said: “Nigerians and Ohanaeze Ndigbo expect that this mutual understanding and harmonious relationship will birth a lot of bills that will improve the lives of Nigerians. That they toed the line of Mr President does not mean that the independence of the 10th Assembly will not be respected.”
He subsequently listed the demands. “At this moment, we recommend the review of the 1999 Constitution. The 10th Assembly should look into the discarded South East Development Commission.
“We expect that our in-law, Akpabio, will vet the creation of an additional state from the Southeast. Ohanaeze will officially notify Tinubu and the Senate leadership of the intention to expedite action for the creation of an additional state, making it the sixth state in the Southeast, so these are our expectations.”
In conclusion, he thanked senators Orji Uzor Kalu, Osita Izunaso, and Dave Umahi “for stepping down for our in-law Akpabio to emerge as the President of the Senate.” He added: “We thank our 15 senators whom we spoke to that we can’t afford to have a Muslim-Muslim presidency and a Muslim-Muslim leadership of the House.
“However, we will continue to mount pressure on our leaders who are feeling aggrieved that they should be considered for leadership positions.”

THE Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has described the emergence of Akpabio as the beginning of a new era, expressing happiness that there are still some Nigerians that believe in equity and fairness in the political leadership of the country.
National Publicity Secretary of PANDEF, Dr. Ken Robinson, told The Guardian that it is one of the best things that have happened recently in the country for the South-South, recalling that the organisation had earlier called on the APC to zone the office of President of the Senate to the South-South. 
He said: “Subsequently, they did and yesterday, 63 senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria demonstrated that they believe in equity and fairness, as against 46 senators who wanted the political leadership of Nigeria to be an all-Muslim leadership, President Bola Tinubu and his vice, Kassim Shettima being Muslims.

“Thanks be to God that we still have people in the senate who have conscience and believe that our diversity can be managed and that in a complex society like Nigeria, there is a need to balance power.

“So, PANDEF is happy with the development and we congratulate Akpabio on his emergence as senate president of the 10th National Assembly. We wish him the best and we are sure that he would provide robust leadership and assist Tinubu to move Nigeria to the next level. We think that Akpabio’s emergence is the beginning of a new era.”
A former member of the House of Representatives in the 9th National Assembly, Prof. Steve Azaiki: “It is good that a minority from the South-South is given the opportunity to serve this country at that level. Furthermore, Akpabio is very qualified, having served as governor and minister.”
The National Chairman of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Chief Ralphs Okey Nwosu, said the lawmakers have made their choices, but the people remain worried about the role of the executive in arriving at such choices. He stated: “Moving forward, for the National Assembly should become the real National Assembly, the principle of seniority should apply. You cannot have a first-time lawmaker emerge leader of any of both chambers; seniority is critical.
“Even though we want to do our ethnic balancing and diversity management, seniority should be critical in the leadership of the National Assembly. That will go a long way in reducing the in-fighting and tussle for positions in the Legislature.
“I was at Transcorp Hilton on Monday and discovered that one of the senators had taken over a floor of the five-star hotel, while another one took two whole floors, just because the National Assembly was going to elect its leadership yesterday and a lot of horse-trading was going on. The cost of a standard room in Transcorp is between N250,000 and N600,000 per day/night.

“This is one of the things that affect the cost of governance, because by the time one spends millions of U.S. dollars to get to a position of influence and authority, he might begin to engage in things and activities that could cost the country huge sums of money as he tries to recoup.

“Well, as for the leadership of the Legislature, this is the choice of the senators and representatives, willy-nilly, but one believes that maintaining seniority will help to reduce the level of horse-trading and spending of resources to get certain positions.”