Tony Ezimakor, Innocent Oweh, Samuel Ogidan, Ahmed Musa
Abuja – Obviously excited over the outcome of the National Assembly elections on Tuesday, President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) have congratulated the newly elected presiding officers of the 9th National Assembly.
Senator Ahmad Lawan from Yobe State, on Tuesday, emerged new Senate President when he polled 79 votes to defeat his only contender, Senator Ali Ndume from Borno State, who scored 28 votes.
Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege (APC-Delta) emerged Deputy Senate President after polling 68 to defeat former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who polled 37.
The House of Representatives also elected Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila (APC-Lagos), as the Speaker of the 9th House of Representatives when he polled 281 votes against Umar Bago, who got 76, while his deputy, Ahmed Idris Wase (APC-Plateau), emerged without election as his nomination was without any opposition.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in Abuja on Tuesday, the president also saluted all the national legislators and their political parties for their display of patriotism and non-partisanship before and during the election.
He commended the transparent and fair nature of the voting process, adjudging it as a plus for the democracy in the country.
President Buhari described the emergence of the new leaders of the legislative branch of government as “a new dawn, different from duplicity and perfidy of the immediate past”.
He, however, charged the winners to use their exalted positions for the higher interest of the country, her people, and for the growth of democracy.
He said: “The executive does not desire a rubber stamp legislature. While separation of powers is essential, collaboration among all arms of government should be the name of the game. Opposition need not be virulent.
“Stepping into the Next Level, the legislature has a big role to play for the goals of the administration to be achieved. This is for the ultimate good of the nation.”
The president urged contestants who lost out to be gallant in defeat, and join hands with the victors who should exhibit magnanimity and eschew vindictiveness.
“At the end of the day, we, the people, who elected our representatives at the national level, are the winners,” he noted.
Lawan was declared winner of the Senate presidential election held at the Senate Chamber on Tuesday.
APC Says NASS Feat A Triumph Over Impunity Of Minority Party
In the same way, a jubilant APC described its sweeping feat at the election of the National Assembly leadership as a triumph over the impunity of minority party.
The party had prior to the vote that held the nation spellbound endorsed Lawan and Omo-Agege, respectively, for President of the Senate and Deputy.
It also nominated Gbajabiamila and Idris Wase for Speaker and Deputy.
Unlike the 2015 experience, PDP lost out as the APC nominees swept the polls.
Congratulating President Buhari, the new NASS leadership and APC National Working Committee for the feat, the party said the landmark victory was a triumph of democracy over anti-democratic forces.
The statement by Lanre Issa-Onilu, National Publicity Secretary reads, “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.
“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.
“Our party has consistently maintained that the leadership of the National Assembly belongs to the party in the majority.
“The outcome of these elections have clearly validated our party’s efforts to institutionalize party discipline and loyalty.
“It is 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.”
I Will Do Justice To All—Lawan
Meanwhile, Ahmad Lawan, newly elected Senate President, on Tuesday, promised to do justice to all the lawmakers irrespective of their political, ethnic, or religious identification.
Lawan, who defeated his opponent, Ali Ndume, with 79 votes, said the Senate would be independent while working with the executive.
“We will choose unity of purpose instead of conflict,” he said.
Lawan, in his remark at the end of the inauguration of the 9th Senate, said that the lawmakers would collaborate with the executive to tackle cattle rustling, kidnapping, and other crimes bedevilling the nation.
Allaying the fears of members who did not vote for him, Lawan said the Senate under his leadership would do justice to all.
According to him, “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.”
Promising to ensure a secure and a prosperous future for all Nigerians, the lawmaker added that the Senate under his watch would be responsive to the needs of the masses.
He said: “We will not settle for anything less than the best. We will dream big, aim high, and take good initiatives.”
He said the agenda of the 9th Senate would include improved Information Communication Technology (ICT).
Assuring that the 9th Senate would address youth unemployment, high rate of suicide, depression, corruption, insecurity, among others, Lawan added that “we will work with the executive for sustained pursuit of national ethical renewal”.
He further assured that the upper chamber would work towards finding lasting solutions to the disturbing educational challenges in the country, noting that it was embarrassing to have about 14 million out of school children.
Lawan insisted that the Senate’s relationship with stakeholders, including civil society organisations and the media, would be strengthened.
“We must drive a transformative 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,” he said.
9th Assembly Won’t Be Business As Usual— Gbajabiamila
Similarly, Femi Gbajabiamila, newly elected House of Representatives’ Speaker, has pledged to pursue a series of reforms in the ninth House, saying under his watch, “It’s not going to be business as usual.”
Gbajabiamila stated this in his inaugural address to his colleagues and Nigerians, commending them for keeping faith in the system and for working round the clock to keep the democratic clock ticking.
The speaker also used the occasion to announce his appointment of Hon. Sanusi Rikiji, the immediate past Speaker of the Zamfara State House of Assembly, as his Chief of Staff.
According to him, “There is more that unites us than to divide us; there’s much work to be done; and we must remain one nation in freedom and unity.
“The contest for the speakership of this ninth Assembly is now over and it’s time to move on. Our country is presently confronted with a myriad of problems and it is our responsibility as members of this institution to set aside political, ideological and other differences that may distract us from the assignment the Nigerian people have sent us here to perform.
“There is much work to be done and we must now pull together, roll up our sleeves, settle down and attend to the people’s business.
“Whatever political party each one of us may belong, we must be conscious of the fact that Nigerians are truly desirous of good governance and are looking to us to be the agents that will through meaningful legislation combat security, poverty, corruption and other problems and contradictions that have held our country back and stunted our development.
“It is this message of unity and coming together that informed the theme of our campaign, ‘Nation Building, a Joint Task.’ We have decided to carry this theme into the operations of the ninth Assembly. As you can see, the logo, which embodies all parties represented in the House, will be displayed permanently behind the speaker’s chair for all to see and as a constant reminder of what this Assembly is all about.
“We must remain one nation bound in freedom, peace and unity. Our vision is very simple, and that is to use the legislative platform and the instrumentality of the law to make Nigeria a better and more perfect union.
“There comes a time in the life and history of a people when they interrogate the past and present, review past sacrifices, miscalculations and errors and collectively decide to opt for change, peace and progress. We are at such a moment in this country. Hon. colleagues of the 9th Assembly this is our time, this is our moment and history beckons,” he said.
“The ninth Assembly under my leadership is going to be a House of reforms or if you like a reformed Assembly. The reforms will be dished out piecemeal and at intervals so as not to shock the system. Moving forward therefore my dear colleagues, it will not be business as usual and we will be shaking the table just a little.
“We will be introducing various reforms that will reposition this institution but please rest assured that they will be for the greater good. On our shoulders lie the responsibility of working together as a House to safeguard the future of our great country. The House must be reformed before the country can be reformed. We simply cannot and must not fail.”
The speaker expressed gratitude to his party, the president and Nigerians for buying into the ideals of the APC, as well as his project of ‘Nation Building, a Joint Task.’
PDP Congratulates NASS New Leadership
Barely 24 hours after it charged its members to vote Ali Ndume for President of the Senate and Hon. Umar Mohammed Bago for Speaker of the House of Representatives, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Tuesday congratulated the 9th National Assembly for its successful inauguration.
The party acknowledged the newly elected President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan and his Deputy, Ovie Omo-Agege, as well as the newly elected Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila and his Deputy, Wase, on their new positions.
PDP, in a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, commended all those that made the contest robust for helping to deepen the democratic practice.
“The PDP will always stand on the side of decency and utmost respect for the institution of the National Assembly and the values we hold as a people.
“Our party therefore charges the federal lawmakers, as representatives of the people, to place the welfare, wishes and aspirations of Nigerians above every other considerations by ensuring a strong and independent legislature that upholds the tenets of democracy and the dictates of our constitution.
“The 9th National Assembly, therefore, must work hard to save our nation from the prevailing despondency caused by the misrule of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, by effectively applying its statutory legislative instruments to guarantee good governance and fiscal prudence, curb corruption, check the excesses of the executive and protect the rights of Nigerians from incessant violations.”
The PDP reminded the National Assembly members to bear in mind that their allegiance is to the people and the constitution and not to any particular leader or group.
“Our party therefore charges the legislature to work only in the interest of our nation and resist the manipulations and pressure that might come from quarters that seek to undermine our democratic order.
“On our part, the PDP, will remain truly committed to the welfare of Nigerians. We shall continue to keep our focus on the quest for good governance, national cohesion and economic wellbeing of the people, even as we pursue our collective aspiration for the successful retrieval of our stolen presidential mandate at the tribunal,” the party said.