Three days from now, new leaders of the national assembly will emerge after what is expected to be keenly contested elections. Having won 65 of the 109 seats at the upper chamber of the national assembly and over 200 in the lower chamber, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is going into the race with an advantage.
But there are signs that if the party is not careful, the scenario of 2015 might play out again. In the 8th assembly, Senate President Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the house of reps, teamed up with their colleagues in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to take out Ahmad Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila, who had the backing of the leadership of the APC.
Lawan and Gbajabiamila still enjoy the support of the APC leadership up till this moment but can that give them automatic access to the exalted positions? In this piece, we look at those seeking to be presiding officers in the ninth national assembly.
Lawan is gunning for office of the number three citizen. The majority leader has been described as “strong ally” of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He is seen as a major contender for office of senate president. The Yobe senator is 60.
Ndume, senator representing Borno south, is aspiring to be senate president but his ambition is contrary to the wish of the APC. The ranking lawmaker comes to the table with some legislative experience, having been in the senate since 2011.
He had earlier spent eight years in the house of reps. The former senate leader was one of those who teamed up with Saraki in 2015 against the wish of the APC. Many believe that he is not pursuing his ambition “vigorously.”
Gaya, the four-time senator who represents Kano south, has indicated interest for running for office of deputy senate president. The works committee chairman has argued that the party ought to zone the office to the north-west because the zone gave the highest number of votes to President Muhammadu Buhari at the last general election.
Although Gaya is an experienced lawmaker, many believe that he may not be able to pull his weight to clinch the position in the ninth assembly. He is 66.
The APC has not formally zoned the seat of the deputy senate president to any region but there are reports that Alimikhena is favoured to clinch the position.
The 71-year-old from Edo state has not formally declared his position to run for the office.
Gbaja is a major contender for the office of speaker. The lawyer is said to be backed by 178 members-elect for the office of the number four citizen. Although, there have been allegations that he was convicted for fraud in the US, the house leader and his campaign team have repeatedly denied it.
Gbaja is an ally of Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos, a factor that his critics are saying could work against him.
Bago, a lawmaker from Niger state, is seeking to take the chair of Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the house of representatives, in the ninth assembly. The APC lawmaker has been a long-time ally of the president, having been in the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), one of the legacy parties of the APC.
The lawmaker, who is in his 40s, has been described as a frontline contender in the race for the office of speaker.
Onyejeocha is the only woman seeking to be a presiding officer in the ninth assembly. The Abia lawmaker who has been reelected into the lower legislative chamber is seeking to be speaker of the house.
She moved to the APC from PDP to actualise her ambition. She has promised not to step down despite immense pressure.
Namdas, spokesman of the house and second-term lawmaker, has indicated interest to run for office of speaker but the Adamawa lawmaker has not pulled enough weight to earn him the position.
Namdas was conspicuously absent at an event where speakership aspirants told their colleagues what they intend to do if elected.
Wase had indicated interest to run for office of speaker but later changed his mind. The deputy house leader is rather opting for the deputy speaker’s seat.
Wase is now supporting Gbaja for speaker. He is from Plateau state.
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