You’ve probably been following the latest development and happenings in the 8th National Assembly. If you’re like most people, then you must be feeling confused and lost in the all the back and forth. Even my editor has no clue what’s going on. Well, we here at YNaija will try to piece it all together for you.
The key players
Bukola Saraki: a senator from Kwara constituency under APC and former Kwara State Governor; now newly elected Senate President.
Ahmad Lawan: a senator who represents the APC in the Yobe North constituency of Yobe state.
George Akume: Minority Senate Leader of the Upper Chamber in th 7th National Assembly, also one time governor of Benue state.
Yakubu Dogara: newly elected speaker of the House of Representatives representing Bogoro/Dass/Tafawa-Balewa Federal constituency of Bauchi State and a member of APC.
Femi Gbajabiamila: minority leader of House of Representatives, 7th National Assembly, representing Surulere constituency 1. A member of the ruling party, APC.
Abdulmumin Jibrin: member of House of Representatives.
Bola Tinubu: APC party leader, former governor of Lagos state.
Muhammadu Buhari: current Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of NIgeria and 4th President of the Fourth Republic under the party of the APC.
The 8th National Assembly, NASS
The fight for power in the National House of Assembly (NASS) has been on for quite a while with the All Progressive Congress, APC having the highest numbers of senators in Buhari’s administration. The main position of contention were the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives. In the recently concluded NASS election, Yakubu Dogara emerged as speaker and Saraki emerged as Senate President– much to the chagrin of the APC leadership.
For the senate, the three key people vying for the position were: Bukola Saraki from the North Central, Ahmed Lawan from the North East, and George Akume from the North Central. Akume, being the longest serving APC member in the Senate, was the most viable candidate but the APC zoned the position of the Senate President to the North East and the Speaker to the House of Reps to the Southwest. The key players vying for the speakership position were Femi Gbajabiamila from the South West, Abdulmumin Jubrin from the North Central and Yakubu Dogara from the North East.
After the APC zoned the Senate Presidency to the North East, Tinubu dumped Akume as preferred candidate for and lobbied for Lawan. He offered Akume the slot of Deputy Senate President, a position he declined. Akume and the party, as a whole, subsequently pitched their support for Lawan. The party stance was a bit puzzling considering the fact 35 APC Senators-Elect had already reiterated their support for Saraki.
— Bukola Saraki (APC) (@bukolasaraki) May 23, 2015
It is rumoured that Tinubu supported Lawan because he had issues with Saraki’s ego and uncontrollable nature. Tinubu was also allegedly wary of giving a PDP defector like Saraki too much power in the new APC. Abdulmumin Jibirn who was the first to declare intent for the position of speaker later dropped out and pitched his tent in the Dogara camp.
The Mock Election
On Saturday 6th of June, the APC conducted a mock election to nominate a candidate for the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Senate President; this saw Femi Gbajabiamila emerge as the party’s choice for speaker and Ahmad Lawan, choice for Senate President– a swift turn from Saraki’s near consensus– and as expected, the outcome didn’t go down well with people in Saraki and Dogara’s camp. Saraki boycotted the election while Dogara staged a walk out.
As the party realised a crisis was imminent, Lai Mohammed said that Buhari would meet with the party to settle the whole scuffle. On the night before the supposed meeting, the President wasn’t in the country and with the Vice President set to take over proceedings, Bukola Saraki snubbed the meet. He was later quoted to have said he can’t be summoned by mere commissioner, which he has gone on record to deny.
The real election
On the morning of the supposed meeting with the President, 51 APC senators were at the International Conference Centre (ICC) waiting for Buhari while 57 senators, mostly PDP, were at the assembly. The election went ahead and Saraki became our new Senate President, unopposed. The APC legislators hustled back to the assembly to at least see Femi Gbajabiamila emerge as Speaker of the House of Reps, but alas, Dogara also emerged victorious.
After the election, media aide of Buhari, Shehu Garba released a press statement explaining why Buhari wasn’t present at the meeting. The statement said that Buhari was although intimated that he would be meeting with members of APC, he flew back to the country that morning, while preparing to head to the meeting, he heard that election was in progress at the assembly so he felt there was no need to attend the meeting.
What have we learned from the entire debacle? We can definitely tell you Ahmed Bola Tinubu is most displeased with the outcome. He has publicly declared that he will never accept and recognise Bukola Saraki as Senate President, citing remorse as the only path to acceptance.
Will he get what he wants? We can only watch and see. Side note, we really need a Nigerian House of Cards.