The 9th National Assembly and its leadership tussle: Matters Arising!

June 14, 2019

The 9th National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was inaugurated on June 11, 2019; the assembly will run its course till June 11, 2023.

Senator Ahmed Lawan, from Yobe, on Tuesday, June 11, emerged the new Senate President when he polled 79 votes to defeat his only contender, Sen. Ali Ndume, from Borno, who scored 28 votes.

The House of Representatives also elected Mr Femi Gbajabiamila (APC-Lagos), as the speaker of the 9th House of Representatives when he polled 281 votes against Umar Bago, who got 76.

After all the hullabaloo, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) got what it wanted in terms of the calibre of persons to occupy the seats of principal officers of the National Assembly.

However, apprehensions have been rife among Nigerians that by allowing the presidency to have its way in the selection of the principal officers, the ability of the upper chamber of the legislature to perform its constitutional role of providing checks and balances to the executive has been circumscribed.

Nonetheless, the election of Senator Ahmed Lawan as the 14th Senate President, which came as a kind of indemnity to the party over its loss in 2015, also subtly stoked recollections about the emergence Dr. Bukola Saraki as the president of the 8th Senate.

Against the background of those considerations, the question on the minds of Nigerians is, what kind of Senate would the 9th session witness in terms of relationship with the executive, among members as well as legislative processes.

Would both Senator Lawan as Senate President and Gbajabiamila as the Speaker of the 9th National Assembly embark on a programme of witch-hunt against all those that sided Saraki and Dogora to deny both of them the office in the just concluded 8th National Assembly? How far would the new leadership fare in averting recriminations over the sharing of committees’ chairmanship?

Although it was obvious that pro-Saraki Senators in the 9th Senate voted against Lawan given the number with which he defeated Senator Ali Ndume, there are still fears that some sort of vengeance could be in the offing against those that supported Saraki.

Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan comes off as a seasoned educator and an experienced legislator with over 20 years’ service in both lower and upper legislative chambers. As President of the 9th National Assembly, therefore, it could be rightly said that Lawan bears the legislative history of 20 years of Nigeria’s current democratic experience.