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Nigeria’s ruling APC sweeps top posts at National Assembly

By Eromo Egbejule
Posted on Thursday, 13 June 2019 12:43

A police officer stands guard as electoral worker carry electoral materials at the offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Yola, Nigeria, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019. Sunday Alamba/AP/SIPA

With the ruling APC now holding all the top leadership positions of the legislature, President Buhari has no excuse not to deliver on his promises.

Senator Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila, handpicked by the party leadership including the previously sidelined All Progressives Congress (APC) national leader Bola Tinubu, have emerged as senate president and speaker of the house of representatives of the 9th National Assembly, respectively.

Lawan, with a doctorate in remote sensing, is a former lecturer at the University of Maiduguri. 

  • A longstanding legislator from Yobe state in Northeastern Nigeria, he was in the house of representatives between 1999-2007 when he was then elected a senator, remaining one for the next four terms.

Gbajabiamila, from Lagos state, has long been the minority leader in the House of Representatives.

  • In 2011, he made the headlines when he rejected a national honour claiming he had not rendered enough service to the country to get one. He was the first legislator to ever do so.
  • As a young impressionable lawyer in Atlanta in the early 2000s, Gbajabiamila won an injury settlement worth $25,000 for a client but closed his practice and disappeared immediately afterwards. By the time he resurfaced three years later to repay, he had become an MP in Nigeria. The Supreme Court and State Bar of Georgia suspended him in 2007, after he admitted to withholding the damage claims.
  • The Coalition of United Political Parties attempted to prevent Gbajabiamila from taking his seat on that basis.

Back in 2015, both men were pencilled down for the same roles but lost bitterly to Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara, maverick politicians who snatched victory from the jaws of political godfathers within the path. That singular act led both men on a long-drawn conflict with the party hierarchy.

  • Saraki battled with the Code of Conduct tribunal on false asset declaration charges instituted by the federal government for three years, eventually winning at the Supreme Court in July 2018.
  • The next month, Nigeria’s secret police locked the National Assembly premises as masked men wearing operatives denied senators entrance for hours, even as another set of uniformed men also barricaded the official apartments of Saraki and his deputy.

With high euphemism, Buhari said, “Relations between the Executive and the Legislature were not the best in the 8th National Assembly.”

Bottom line: With the passage of the new order, it is expected that the legislature will allow the executive to act more quickly, even if questions arise over its independence. But it also removes any excuses for the second Buhari presidency not to deliver.

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