..17 PDP lawmakers supported Lawan
…I’ll be fair to all – Sen. Lawan
…as APC mocks PDP over Ndume’s choice
By Ayo Fadimu
The victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC) backed legislators, Senator Ahmed Lawan as Senate President and Hon Femi Gbajabiamila as the Speaker during the 9th National Assembly elections of the Senate and the House of Representatives yesterday shocked leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and brought an end to 20 years control since the beginning of the fourth republic in 1999.
The leaders of the PDP had expressed confidence that Senator Ali Ndume and Hon Umar Bago candidates backed by the party will emerge victorious following the adoption of the open- secret voting system adopted during the election by the management of the National Assembly
However, the result of the Senate Presidency election shows that at least 17 PDP lawmakers voted for Senate President Ahmed Lawan in disregard of the directive of the PDP leadership that Ali Ndume should be elected as Senate President.
The All Progressives Congress has 62 lawmakers while the opposition PDP has 44 and Young Democratic Party has one. Two senatorial seats of Imo State remain vacant.
However, the Senate Leader in the 8th Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, APC, Yobe North was elected the Senate President for the 9th Senate.
He scored a total vote of 79 Lawan polled 79 votes while Mohammed Ali Ndume APC, Borno South scored only 28 votes.
Lawan had during his campaign met with some of his colleagues in the PDP and negotiated with them. Also, the legislators according to findings supported candidates backed Presidency and the APC as a strategy and negotiation for the government to stop cases being investigated against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Another source hinted that opinion poll shows that Senator Lawan was considered a better option as a liberal leader than Ndume which both members of the 9th Senate believe is a product of immediate past Senate President Bukola Saraki. “ The victory of Ndume will take us back to the days of 8th Senate where in true sense there was no democracy on the floor of the house. Senators in the 9th Senate desire a conduciv atmosphere for interaction and positive contribution,” the Senator pleaded not to mention his name.
He added that the leadership style of President Buhari in which he refused to interfere in National Assembly matters could put the party in a tight condition during the 9th National Assembly if a Senate President and House of Representatives member not supported finally emerged as Speaker. “ We should commend the intervention of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the National Party Chairman of APC for taking full control coupled with effective monitoring of the APC senators and Reps members before and during the election.
Announcing the result, the Clerk to the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani Omolori said that 107 Senators- elect voted.
Lawan was immediately sworn in by Omolori after taking the oath of allegiance and that of office. Prior to the announcement, there was palpable tension and fear as Senators- elect commenced voting for either the Senate Leader in the 8th, Senator Ahmad Lawan, APC, Yobe North or the former Senate Leader and a strong contender for the position of Senate President for the 9th Senate, Senator Ali Ndume, APC, Borno South.
There was palpable fear in the Hallowed Chamber as the voting commenced, apparently due to the fact that the move to use the open ballot system as being canvassed for by the Senator Lawan led group did not sail through.
The Senators- elect used the open Secret ballot system where they received a ballot paper, go to the cubicle to vote secretly for their preferred candidates and then drop it in the ballot box.
The voting commenced at 10:45am soon after the nomination of Lawan and Ndume, starting with Theodore Orji, Abia Central.
The Clerk to the National Assembly, CNA, Mohammed Sani Omolori had called for nomination of candidates at 10:31am.
Thereafter, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, APC, Kebbi North nominated Ahmad Lawal for the position of Senate Presidrnt.
It was seconded by Adeola Solomon Olamilekan, APC, Lagos West.
The CNA asked if there were further nominations and Ali Ndume was nominated by Ishaku Abu, PDP, Adamawa North and seconded by Barinada Npigi, PDP, Rivers South East.
Both Lawan and Ndume addressed the Senators- elect on their plans for the 9th Senate.
It would be recalled that earlier there was a rowdy session at the hallowed chamber soon after the inauguration of the 9th Senate commenced as the Clerk of the National Assembly disclosed that he did not get any Court Order to change the Rules.
The red chamber had erupted into a rowdy one soon after the Clerk to the National Assembly, CNA, Mohammed Sani Omolori declared that he did not get the Order from the Court stopping the Senate from using the 2015 Standing Orders as Amended.
According to him, if there was any court order, there was no reason why he will not respect it, stressing that he did not get such.
Omolori told the Senators- elect that the Standing Orders which says Secret ballot system would be used for the election of the Presiding Officers.
Shortly after the announcement, the hallowed Chamber was thrown into a confused one, following shouts from Barau Jibrin and others who were against the decision to use that of 2015.
Omolori had to call them to order, telling them that today, no motion shall be moved or taken as the business of the day is only that of inauguration and election of Presiding Officers.
On the question on whether he got the Order, Omolori said no and that he only answered because for Barau Jibrin. The CNA then asked the Clerk, Senate, Nelson Ayewor to go ahead and take the attendance.
Earlier, the National Chairman, APC, Adams Oshiomhole had arrived the Senate Chamber.
Also the Chairman, Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF and governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi arrived the National Assembly to observe the inauguration.
Fayemi who arrived the Senate Lobby at 9.35am was accompanied by his predecessor and the immediate past governor of Zamfara State, Abdul Aziz Yari, the governor of Katsina State, Aminu Masari and other APC governors.
They headed straight to the Senate chamber to observe plenary. The House of Representatives on Tuesday
elected Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila (APC-Lagos), as the Speaker of the 9th House of Representatives.
Gbajabiamila was declared speaker after an election following his nomination by the former Appropriations Committee Chairman, Rep. Jibrin Abdulmumin (APC-Kano).
Omolori announced that 358 members voted, saying Gbajabiamila scored 281 votes out of 358 votes cast against Rep. Umar Bago who got 76.
He said that invalid vote was one and two members absent. Omolori therefore, declared that Gbajabiamila was the winner.
Gbajabiamila, who was born in 1962, is a 4th term member and majority Leader in the 8th House of Representatives.
For the Deputy Speaker position, Rep. Sada Soni (APC-Katsina) nominated Rep. Ahmed Idris (APC-Plateau). When the Clerk made an announcement for another nomination there was none and Idris was declared the Deputy Speaker.
Meanwhile, the newly elected President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, says he will be fair to his colleagues irrespective of political, ethnic or religious affiliation. He gave the assurance while delivering his remarks at the end of the inauguration of the 9th Senate, which saw to his emergence.
According to him, the senate under his leadership would do justice to all to ensure that it perform its role for the benefit of Nigerians.
He said that “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 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and 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 practice among other things,” he said.
Lawan, who polled 79 votes to defeat his only contender, Sen. Ali Ndume, who polled 28 votes, promised to ensure a secure and a prosperous future for all Nigerians.
He promised to run a senate that would be responsive to the needs of the masses whose mandate the senate holds in high esteem. He 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 said that the agenda of the 9th senate would include improved Information Communication Technology (ICT).
He added that the senate would work in collaboration with the Executive, to tackle cattle rustling, kidnapping and other crimes bedeviling the nation.
“We will work with the executive for sustained pursuit of national ethical renewal,” he added.
The 9th senate he stated would address youth unemployment, high rate of suicide, depression, corruption, insecurity among others.
He also said the upper chamber would work towards finding lasting solutions to the disturbing educational challenges in the country, stressing that it is embarrassing to have about 14 million out of school children.
He allayed fears that the senate under him would be subservient to the executive.
On the contrary he said the senate will be independent while working with the executive.
“We will choose unity of purpose instead of conflict,” he assured. He pointed out that he would ensure that senate’s relationship with stakeholders including civil society organisations and the media is strengthened.
He said “we must drive a trans-formative senate dedicated to serving the people with confidence, courage and patriotism.” In doing so, we are convinced that our past was only a story told while our future can yet be written in gold.”
The leadership of APC has accused PDP of brazen lawlessness and impunity.
APC in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said, “This landslide victory by APC candidates is a triumph of democracy and party politics over the brazen lawlessness of anti-democratic forces who are nestled in the opposition party”,
PDP had earlier on Tuesday morning directed its members to vote Ali Ndume as Senate President but many members described the order as too late.
PDP leadership had all along been backing a former PDP governor of Gombe State, Danjuma Goje who last week stepped down for Lawan after personal intervention of President Buhari
The party went further,
“Our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) congratulates our President, Muhammadu Buhari; the National Chairman of the Party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole; our governors; the National Executive Committee (NEC); the National Working Committee (NWC) other party leaders; members and supporters on the success of our federal lawmakers at the election of the Principal Officers for the 9th National Assembly”, the party said.
“We consistently maintained that the leadership of the National Assembly belongs to the party in the majority and the outcome of these elections have clearly validated our party’s efforts to institutionalize party discipline and loyalty”.
It described the victory as a “triumph of internal democracy, anchored on consensus building, to which we lay claim, over anti-democratic methods that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had foisted on our democracy over 16 years”.
“We are deeply humbled by the honour bestowed on our great Party. While members of our great Party are entitled to savour this victory, we call on all to avoid pettiness and to continue to stretch hands of fellowship to progressive forces in other political parties and groups to consolidate our democracy.
“On the strength of our overwhelming numerical strength in the just inaugurated 9th National Assembly and election of the Party’s adopted candidates as presiding officers in its two chambers, we must recommit to cooperation between the executive and legislative arms of government.
“The support of the National Assembly remains critical as an arm of government to enable the APC-led administration continue to deliver on our current scheme of provision of infrastructure throughout the length and breadth of Nigeria to boost economic development; to provide jobs to the citizenry; and to increase the tempo of social investments and empowerment of our people.
“More synergy between the executive and the legislature will also boost the fight against corruption and give more impetus to national reorientation and the efforts to secure the nation.
“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.
“Finally, we congratulate all National Assembly members – Senate and House of Representatives — under the platform of our great party on their inauguration following their victories in the 2019 National Assembly Elections.
“We applaud the electorate nationwide, whose representatives in both chambers of the National Assembly have entrusted the leadership of the legislature in the able hands of APC members, for voting for the Next Level of progress, prosperity and development”, APC stated.