In the National Assembly elections held on February 25, some members of the National Assembly who have spent multiple terms culminating in over 20 years at the hallowed chambers were again re-elected into the Senate and the House of Representatives respectively, LEKE BAIYEWU writes
The anticipated presidential and National Assembly elections have come and gone and for most of the seats in both the Red and Green Chambers of the National Assembly, some members who have been in the federal parliament for multiple terms running into decades were again re-elected.
The current ninth National Assembly was inaugurated in June 2019 and the 10th is expected to be inaugurated the same month in 2023.
Traditionally, ranking members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives usually become the presiding and principal officers. The presiding officers are the President of the Senate, Speaker of the House, Deputy President of the Senate and Deputy Speaker of the House.
The principal officers are leaders of the majority and minority caucuses, who, together with the presiding officers, form the leadership of the chambers respectively. They include the Majority Leader, Deputy Majority Leader, Majority or Chief Whip, Deputy Whip, Minority Leader, Deputy Minority Leader, Minority Whip and Deputy Minority Whip. These 10 persons steer the affairs of each of the Senate and the House.
Due to the ranking nature of members in the National Assembly, these veteran lawmakers, who have literally become the landlords and kingmakers of the chambers, will wield their influence in the selection of leaders and chairmen of committees in the tenth Assembly.
Lawan: Presidential aspirant returns to Senate
The incumbent President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has been in the National Assembly since 1999. He was first elected a member of the House where he spent two terms. There, he represented the Bade/Jakusko federal constituency in Yobe State. In 2007, he was elected into the Senate to represent Yobe North Senatorial District and has since been re-elected – in 2011, 2015 and 2019. Lawan became President of the 9th Senate in 2019. Lawan’s return to the Senate in the Saturday election came with some drama. He had contested the presidential primary of the governing All Progressives Congress but lost. By then, another aspirant, Bashir Machina, had won the party’s senatorial ticket for the Senate seat Lawan is occupying. However, the APC substituted Machina’s name with Lawan’s, which led to a legal battle. The Supreme Court eventually validated Lawan’s candidacy and the lawmaker has now won a seventh term at the National Assembly.
Gbajabiamila: 20 years gone, another four to go
The current Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has also been re-elected to serve his sixth term in the Green Chamber. He thanked his constituents in Surulere federal constituency I in Lagos State when the Independent National Electoral Commission declared him the winner. The Speaker has been in the House since 2003. He was the Minority Leader of the House in the seventh National Assembly and later Majority Leader in the eighth Assembly after his hope of becoming Speaker was dashed. A statement on Sunday by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, partly read, “Gbajabiamila remains the only lawmaker from the South-West geopolitical zone to have been elected six times to represent his constituency. During his 20-year journey in the House of Representatives so far, Gbajabiamila has served as Minority Whip, Minority Leader, Opposition Leader, and Majority Leader before getting elected as the Speaker in 2019. He remains the only lawmaker in Africa to have done this.” Meanwhile, Gbajabiamila is a close ally of the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Ndume now in sixth term
The lawmaker representing Borno South Senatorial District, Senator Ali Ndume, is also joining the 10th Assembly as a sixth-timer. Ndume has been in the National Assembly since 2003, first to represent Chibok/Damboa/Gwoza federal constituency in Borno State for two terms – 2003 to 2011, and later in 2011 elected to represent Borno South Senatorial District, a seat he has kept till date and has been re-elected. Ndume had attempted to be President of the Senate at different times. He was Majority Leader of the House in the eighth Assembly but was removed from the position over his political stance against that of the then President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki. Ndume was replaced with Ahmad Lawan, who is now Saraki’s successor.
Ado-Doguwa: From one Republic to another
The current Majority Leader of the House, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, was a member of the House in the botched Third Republic and returned to the parliament in the Fourth Republic to represent Doguwa/Tudun Wada federal constituency in Kano State in 2007. He has now won another term to remain in the House till 2027. According to a document obtained from Ado-Doguwa’s office containing his profile, the lawmaker was said to have made history by becoming “the first Nigerian to be sworn in as a member of the House of Representatives immediately after completing his youth service.”
Monguno: A serial speakership aspirant joins Senate
Mohammed Monguno is currently representing Marte/Monguno/Nganzai federal constituency in Borno State. He has now been elected to represent Borno North Senatorial District in the 10th Assembly. He will be succeeding Senator Abubakar Kyari, who occupied the seat until he became the Deputy National Chairman (North) of the ruling APC. Monguno was first elected member of the House in the Third Republic (1992/93) and returned to the House in 2007 under the current Fourth Republic. In 2015, Monguno contested for the Office of the Speaker and stepped down for Femi Gbajabiamila, who was the candidate of the APC leadership. Monguno also lost his deputy speakership bid to Yusuf Lasun. While Yakubu Dogara later hijacked the speakership seat from Gbajabiamila, he kept Lasun as his deputy. Again in 2019, Monguno joined the speakership race and again stepped down for Gbajabiamila, who remained the party’s candidate. He is the current Majority Whip of the House.
Abaribe: Taking another route back to chamber
Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe became the lawmaker representing Abia South Senatorial District in the Senate in 2007 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party. He was Minority Leader of the Senate till 2022 and he quit the position after failing to secure another ticket and fell out with his party. He defected from the PDP to the All Progressives Grand Alliance and consequently resigned as the Minority Leader of the Senate. He has now been re-elected under APGA. Abaribe, a former Deputy Governor of Abia State, has been representing the state together with two ex-governors of the state, Orji Uzor Kalu and Theodore Orji, in the current ninth Assembly.
Abba-Ibrahim: A law-making family
Khadijat Bukar Abba-Ibrahim has been in the House since 2007, representing Damaturu/Gujba/Gulani/Tarmuwa federal constituency in Yobe State and has been re-elected for another term. She was serving her fourth term in 2016 when the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), appointed her as the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. On January 9, 2019, Abba-Ibrahim resigned from Buhari’s cabinet to contest for a fresh fourth term in the House and won. Hers is a political family. At a point in time, she and her husband, Bukar Abba-Ibrahim, were both in the National Assembly. Her husband served as the governor of Yobe State in the Third Republic – from January 1992 to November 1993. In the Fourth Republic, he was governor of the state again for two terms – from 1999 to 2007. In 2007, he represented Yobe East Senatorial District, where he was till the eighth Assembly which ended in 2019. Interestingly, Mrs Abba-Ibrahim contested against her stepson to clinch the APC ticket with which she is currently representing her constituency in the House.
Betara: The budget man returns
Another member of the 2007 set is Mukhtar Betara who represents Biu/Bayo/Shani federal constituency in Borno State and currently chairs the House Committee on Appropriation. He was one of the speakership aspirants at the beginning of the current ninth House and his constituents, who procured the N10m nomination and expression of interest forms of the APC for him to seek re-election to the House in 2023, have tipped him to be the next Speaker. Betara has now been re-elected for a fifth term.
Mutu: ‘NDDC lawmaker’ stays put
Nicholas Mutu has been in the House since 1999, representing Bomadi/Patani federal constituency in Delta State. He was also the Chairman, House Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission between 2009 and 2019 – arguably the longest time that a member would head a committee. Not one of the known names when it comes to debates on motions and bills, documents presented to the House Committee on NDDC by the immediate past Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, indicated that Mutu is a serial contractor to the commission. While the Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo-led committee was investigating the mismanagement and fraud in the NDDC, Akpabio had alleged that National Assembly members, especially the previous leadership of the committee, were beneficiaries of contracts from the commission. A list the minister provided showed that Mutu had the highest number of NDDC projects listed against his name. The result for the House membership election for his constituency was not available as of the time of filing this report.