Anointed candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the National Assembly leadership positions emerged victorious during elections at the federal parliament on Tuesday in Abuja.
All the candidates, who received the backing of President Bola Tinubu and the APC, defeated aspirants, who contested the positions contrary to the zoning arrangement of the party.
Senator Godswill Akpabio emerged as the President of the Senate, while Senator Jibrin Barau won the position of the Deputy President of the upper legislative chambers. At the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas won the election for the position of Speaker, while Benjamin Kalu emerged as the Deputy Speaker.
The ruling party zoned the Senate presidency to the South-South and endorsed Akpabio (Akwa Ibom) for the position, while the deputy Senate presidency was zoned to the North-West. Barau,from Kano State, was tipped for the position.
The positions of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker were zoned to the North-West and South-East respectively, while Abbas (from Kano State) and Kalu (from Abia State) were endorsed for the seats.
The APC senators, who were mindful of the 2015 experience, when Senator Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara, shunned the party’s zoning arrangement to emerge as the Senate president and the Speaker respectively, started arriving at the National Assembly as early as 7 am.
At the Senate, the voting process started at 8 am with the nomination of candidates for the position of Senate president.
Akpabio was nominated by Senator Ali Mohammed Ndume (APC Borno South), after the call for nomination was made by the Clerk to the National Assembly, Sani Tambawal.
His nomination was seconded by Senator Solomon Adeola (APC Ogun West).
Drama, however, ensued when the Clerk asked if there was any other nomination, and Senator Elisha Abbo (APC Adamawa North) signified his readiness to nominate another candidate.
But as Abbo attempted to nominate Senator Abdulaziz Yari, Senator Mohammed Mongono (APC Borno North), kicked against it by describing Yari as a non-ranking Senator.
Mongono in kicking against Yari’s nomination by Abbo, said it contravened Order 3 of the Senate Standing Rules. His position was however rejected by senators who were in support of Yari, with shouts of “no!, no!”
But the Clerk of the National Assembly overruled Mongono by declaring that nomination of Yari was in order.
After the voting, which was done through a secret ballot, Akpabio scored 63 votes to defeat Yari, who got 46 votes.
The former Zamfara State governor embraced the new Senate president and congratulated him.
Immediately after the result was declared, the clerk called for nominations for the position of Deputy President of the Senate,
Senator David Umahi (APC Ebonyi South) nominated Barau while Saliu Mustapha (APC Kwara Central) seconded. Barau was returned unopposed.
Akpabio, in his inaugural speech, extended his hand of fellowship to all Senators of the 10th Senate, irrespective of political party membership, saying, “Having won elections and inaugurated, we should see ourselves as Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not that of political parties.”
He described the 10th Senate as an uncommon one that would collaborate with the executive arm of government in the area of improved revenue generation for the country.
He said, “I assure you that I am mindful of the enormous responsibilities that this position calls for. You will have my cooperation in all matters and our joint efforts will be one of teamwork. I extend my sincere hands of fellowship to all of us, including those who, at a time, may have had different opinions regarding the leadership of the Senate.”
In his reaction, the Deputy Director-General of Yari’s team, Senator Abdul Ningi, said the election was free and fair.
He said, “The election was free and fair without much-anticipated drama. That is what makes the institution of the Senate different. The animosity, the 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.”
This followed the election in the Senate which saw Akpabio beat a former Governor of Zamfara State, Senator Abdulaziz Yari, by 63 votes to 46.
At the House of Representatives, Abbas, who was the preferred candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), polled 353 votes, beating his rival and former Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase and Aminu Jaji.