LIVE UPDATES: Amid anxiety, protests, senators-elect commence voting to to pick either Lawan or Ndume

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It is June 11, the day proclaimed by President Muhammadu Buhari for the inauguration of the ninth Senate and the House of Representatives as well as their respective principal officers.

Just immediately after the 2019 general election, in which Buhari won a return to the seat of power, the battle had shifted to the National Assembly where the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its governors decided on Ahmed Lawan as the Senate president and Femi Gbajabiamila as the speaker.

However, like in 2015, the political battle for the headship of the legislative arm has been tough. Senator Ali Ndume, had reportedly turned down overtures to step down for the party’s endorsed candidate. Ndume maintains that he does not believe in imposition. He also argues that to make the country great, the executive arm of government is not supposed to interfere in the election of the leadership of the National Assembly.

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Ndume was believed to be banking on the huge number of the senators on the platform of the PDP and a few from the APC, a major challenge for Lawan, who has been able to secure the endorsement of Danjuma Goje, a fellow contender for the position, who recently stepped down.

At the House of Representatives, the tide is believed to favour Gbajabiamila ahead of Chukwu Emeka Nwajiuba, who is supported by the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF).

In less than twenty-four hours to the inauguration, the national chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, met with the party’s caucus at the National Assembly while Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers also held marathon meetings with PDP legislators.

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National Assembly inauguration

Ali Ndume, a major contender for the position of Senate president for the ninth National Assembly, got to the legislative chamber at exactly 7.20 am and exchanged pleasantries with excited staff.

He was the first senator-elect to appear at the National Assembly.

Ndume had recently said it was too late for him to withdraw from the race. He also insisted that the executive and the APC should allow lawmakers to freely elect their principal officers.

The representative of Borno South senatorial district is battling for the position against Ahmed Lawan, endorsed by the APC and allegedly by the presidency.

National Assembly inauguration

Some of the lawmakers-elect of the 9th Assembly have begun to arrive at the National Assembly in coaster buses.

Reports say lawmakers-elect took off from the Transcorp Hilton Hotel. Many of the lawmakers-elect arrived with their spouses at about 7:50 am.

National Assrmbly inauguration

Currently, security at the National Assembly is beefed up at the various gates to both chambers ahead of the inauguration of the 9th Assembly.

Legit.ng reports that the accredited men of the Department of State Security (DSS), the police, Civil Defence and personnel of the Sergeant-at-Arms manned the entrance of the first National Assembly gate at about 6.45 am.

National Assembly inauguration

Minutes before the inauguration of the National Assembly, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has endorsed Ali Ndume for the position of the Senate president.

With this endorsement, it means Ndume may have a block vote from the PDP and in this case, he might only need a few more number from the APC to have his way.

The PDP, in a statement by its national secretary, Sen Umar Tsauri, endorsed Umar Bago for the post of speaker of the House of Representatives ahead of Femi Gbajabiamila, who had won the support of the executive arm and the APC.

“The final resolution on Sen. Ndume and Bago was reached at the end of a decisive meeting of members of the National Working Committee, party leaders, state governors as well as senators and members-elect on the platform of the PDP.

“This decision is in the best interest of the nation in line with our party’s determination to deepen democracy, ensure a strong and independent legislature, strict compliance with the principle of separation of powers as well as constitutional checks and balances in the polity.”

“All senators and members-elect on the platform of the PDP are to be guided accordingly,” he said.

National Assembly inauguration

Despite not receiving a certificate of return from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), former governor of Imo state and senator-elect, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, reached the National Assembly for the inauguration.

The former governor was, however, denied accreditation.

Okorocha had earlier denied receiving the certificate from INEC as claimed in some reports recently. He also promised to make Nigerians aware once he gets it.

National Assembly inauguration

Senator Ahmad Lawan, one of the two contenders for the topmost seat of the president of the upper chamber and chairman of the National Assembly, arrives for the inauguration.

Lawan arrived the Senate chamber accompanied by many of his colleagues on the platform of the APC. At the time of this report, the Senate chamber is almost set for the inauguration.

Some of the lawmakers arrive at the National Assembly ahead of the inauguration
Credit: Daily Trust
Source: UGC

National Assembly inauguration

The former minister of information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has arrived the National Assembly for the inauguration of the ninth session. Mohammed is a top member of the APC and was its national publicity secretary.

National Assembly inauguaration

The national chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, and governors on the platform of the party arrive the National Assembly to witness its outcome. The former deputy president of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, also arrives.

National Assembly inauguration

There is a mild drama as some senators are rejecting the adoption of secret ballot method of voting to elect principal officers. The head of the National Assembly says he did not receive any court of order stopping secret ballot system. Many of the senators want an open-ballot. The clerk is asked to go ahead with presiding.

National Assembly inauguration

The clerk of the Senate takes charge of the day’s proceedings. He commences by taking a register of all the senators-elect by their states in alphabetical order.

A senator-elect from Ekiti, Bamidele Opeyemi, whose name was called, said he was present, but still protesting. He did not say why, but it is believed to be connected to the announcement that the secret ballot would be adopted.

In Imo, Rochas Okorocha was not mentioned in the register. He is yet to receive the certificate of return.

National Assembly inauguration

The speakership aspirant for the ninth House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has arrived the National Assembly ahead of the inauguration amid cheers. Gbajabiamila arrived with Wase and over 100 supporters.

National Assembly inauguration

The clerk says 107 senators-elect are present. Senator Yahaya Abdullahi from Kebbi nominates Ahmed Lawan for the position of Senate president. Adeola Solomon Olamilekan from Lagos seconds the nomination.

Lawan, in reaction, said he was standing humbly to accept the nomination. He says as representatives of Nigerians, “we are in it together,” and would ensure that nothing inhibits their work to provide the support that is required for the government to function. He says though is of the APC stock, the other members, especially those from the PDP, should work without political sentiments.

Lawan says members should work together to create a climate for the economy to thrive, He promises to to work with every member of the Senate and ensure their political differences would not hinder their workings. He says he is in it for national interest.

He receives a standing ovation from his loyalists.

9th National Assembly: Live updates as lawmakers elect speaker, Senate

One of the senators-elect trying to cast his vote for the Senate presidency
Credit: NTA
Source: UGC

National Assembly inauguration

Ali Ndume, clad in white ‘agbada’ and a cap to match, is nominated by another senator-elect and seconded. He accepts the nomination.

Ndume said he thanked God for taking him this far in the contest. He said it had not been easy, especially to insist that he would run. He said he had presented his nine point agenda. He said gradually, the National Assembly’s Senate presidency had lost its steam.

According to him, “we now have the senators’ president instead of the ‘Senate president’.” He promised to make the office less powerful and seen as one of the other offices in the National Assembly.

Ndume complained about the country’s budget and said leakages could be blocked to make it easy for the appropriation law to perform without borrowing. He also said the Senate had faced criticisms over the time-line for passage of budgets, but that he would work to make timelines possible.

He also said he would take care of the welfare of the staff and former senators.

“It is my intention that we work together to ensure that our budget is passed on time and a timeline for confirmations to be undertaken from the executive. Constituency Projects need to have a legal backing,” he said.

The clerk announces that it is time to vote. He says it would be open-secret ballot.

“I declare the nomination closed. Voting will be by open-secret ballot,” Sani Omolori, clerk of National Assembly, said. He asked the senators-elect to “write the name of your preferred candidate, fold it and drop it inside the box and then go back to your seat. Okay, we are ready.”

National Assembly inauguration

Election for the position of Senate president commences with the senators from Abia state casting their ballots. Theodore Ahamaefule Orji representing Abia Central is the first to cast his vote. Their colleagues from Adamawa followed.

9th National Assembly: Live updates as lawmakers elect speaker, Senate

Senator Dino Melaye casts his vote
Credit: NTA
Source: UGC

Source: Legit

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