BARRING any unforeseen circumstance, Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila will emerge leaders of the Ninth Senate and House of Representatives which will be inaugurated today.
No fewer than 107 senators-elect will pick the senate president 359 of the 360 elected members of the House will choose the Speaker
Other presiding offices to be contested for are deputy senate president and deputy House Speaker.
The 360th member-elect of the House died before today’s inauguration,
Two senatorial seats, including that of ex-Governor Rochas Okorocha, have not been resolved by the court and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The principal offices will be filled by the parties’ caucuses in both chambers.
Those of the Senate are Majority Leader; Deputy Majority Leader; Minority Leader; Deputy Minority Leader; Senate Chief Whip; Senate Deputy Chief Whip in the House are Majority Leader; Deputy Majority Leader; Minority Leader; Deputy Minority Leader; Chief Whip; Deputy Chief Whip; Minority Whip and Deputy Minority Whip.
Ali Ndume is in the Senate President’s race with Lawan. Ovie Omo-Agege, Francis Alimikhena, Adamu Aliero, Orji Uzor Kalu and Kabiru Gaya will vie for Deputy Senate President. Gbajabiamila will slug it out with Mohammed Umaru Bago, Olatunbosun Olajide and John Dyegh for Speaker. Idris Wase is for Deputy Speaker.
Security has been tightened at the National complex to ensure smooth inauguration
The lawmakers-elect were screened to prevent impostors from accessing the complex.
“All these steps are normal procedures and we expect the public to bear with us”, A director in the National Assembly told The Nation last night.
A top source in APC gave insights into last minutes politicking on some of the posts.
The source said: “The only challenge at hand in the Senate is the intrigues on the Deputy President of the Senate. The President and the APC have agreed to zone the office to South-South but some stakeholders from the North-West and the South-East have kicked against it. This is why ex-Governors Orji Uzor Kalu, Adamu Aliero and Kabiru Gaya are agitating for their zones.
“While low votes for APC during the last general election are counting against the South-East, most stakeholders were surprised by the sudden interest of the North-West in the office. With President Muhammadu Buhari from the North-West and the Senate presidency zoned to the North-East, there will be ethnic animosity if the North-West gets Deputy President of the Senate.
“Some PDP elements do not want the APC candidate for the office of deputy Senate president, Sen. Ovie Omo- Agege because he was seen as Buhari’s attack dog in the Senate when PDP’s candidate, Dr. Bukola Saraki was Senate President.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “As for the Speaker, some loyalists of the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara are hell-bent on stopping Femi Gbajabiamila from emerging.
“Instead, they had been working for Mohammed Umaru Bago from Niger State. But Gbajabiamila’s luck this time around was the choice of Idris Ahmed Wase as his deputy. Wase has a solid support base.
“Also, the fact that most of the members-elect are new has assisted to oil the campaign of Gbajabiamila.”
Another source said: “The election of principal officers in the National Assembly is a battle of supremacy by both the APC and the PDP. The APC wants a clean sweep of the available offices, the PDP demands to be accommodated.
“For the first time, President Muhammadu Buhari has been involved in crucial talks with all stakeholders.
“But the PDP does not have the number to cause any upset. They tried to recruit Sen. Danjuma Goje and Wase but they failed. They also fought proxy wars through the court with seven cases against Gbajabiamila, they failed.”
How they’ll vote
The National Assembly management has perfected arrangements set machinery in place last night for a smooth election of the presiding officers.
According to the Senate Standing Orders 2015, a candidate can emerge as President of the Senate or Deputy President of the Senate with a simple majority of the lawful votes cast by senators-elect.
But in the House, a Speaker or Deputy Speaker must garner about 181 of the lawful votes cast.
Section 3 of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 reads in part: “ A Senator-elect may before taking the Oaths prescribed in the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, take part in the election of the President and Deputy President of the Senate.
“Nomination of Senators to serve as Presiding officers and appointments of Principal Officers and other Officers of the Senate or on any Parliamentary delegations shall be in accordance with the ranking of Senators. In determining ranking, the following order shall apply
Senators returning based on number of times re-elected;
Senators who had been members of the House of Representatives;
Senators elected as Senators for the first time.
“The appointment of Senators as Chairmen and Members at Committees shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the six geo-political l zones of the country and there shall be no predominance of Senators from a few geo-political zones.
“Election shall be (i) by electronic voting; or (ii) voting by secret ballot which shall be conducted by the CIerks-at-Table using the list of the Senators-elect of the Senate, who shall each be given a ballot paper to cast his vote, with the proposers and seconder as Teller.
“The Clerk of the Senate shall submit the result of the voting to the Clerk of the National Assembly who shall then declare the Senator-elect who has received the highest number of votes as Senate President-elect.
“When more than two Senators-elect are nominated and seconded to be Senate President, the division shall be conducted in the manner prescribed in Order 3(3)(e)(ii) herein and the Senator-elect who has received the highest number of votes shall be declared the Senate President elect.
‘In the event of two or more Senators-elect receiving highest but equal number of votes, the name of the candidate having the smallest number of votes shaIl be excluded from subsequent divisions.
“A further division shall take place. This voting shall continue until one candidate receives a simple majority of votes of the Senators-elect. Such person will then be declared Senate President-elect.”
The same procedure applies to the election of Deputy President of the Senate.