President Muhammadu Buhari is believed to favour a new senate leadership team made up of Senator Ahmad Lawan of Yobe North and Senator Ovie Omo-Agege of Delta Central senatorial districts after both of them retained their seats.
With the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) on course to be the largest party in the ninth senate, thoughts have already turned to who will be the principal officers of the National Assembly. Senate president Senator Bukola Saraki lost his seat in Kwara Central Senatorial District, losing out to Dr Yahaya Oloriegbe, so a new leadership has to be elected once the legislators assume office.
Senator Lawan, the current majority leader, was comfortably returned retained his seat with 144,099 votes to defeat Sheriff Abdullahi of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) who polled 53,443 votes. Likewise, Senator Omo-Agege was returned with a total of 111,100 votes, beating his closest rival Everlyn Oboro of the PDP who scored 99,422 votes.
A close ally of President Buhari, Senator Lawan was originally billed to become senate president in 2015 but was out-manoeuvred by Senator Saraki. Senator Omo-Agege for his part is also a passionate supporter of the president, clashing with his colleagues in the upper chamber following their decision to amend the Electoral Act 2010, which governs the sequence of polls in a general election.
In April last year, Senator Omo-Agege was suspended for 90 legislative days for insulting the National Assembly by stating that its plans to amend the Electoral Act was a personal attack on President Buhari. In addition, the senate resolved that Senator Omo-Agege should withdraw a case he instituted against the chamber, while asking that the pro-Buhari Parliamentary Support Group be disbanded.
With Senator Lawan coming from the northeast and Senator Omo-Agege coming from the south-south, it is believed that President Buhari sees them as an ideal team that is balanced. With the president coming from the north west and vice president Professor Yemi Osinbajo coming from the south west, the Lawan/Omo-Agege team is considered to be in line with Nigeria’s zoning arrangement.
This will mean that the speaker of the House of Representatives will come from the southeast, with north central geo-political zone producing the deputy speaker. It is believed that the jockeying to fill all the principal positions in the National Assembly will begin once President Buhari has formally been declared the winner of the presidential elections.