Four years after Sen. Ahmed Lawan and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila both lost bids to become senate president and house speaker respectively despite the backing of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), their dreams came true on Tuesday. Lawan, a senator from Yobe state, defeated Ali Ndume to emerge senate president, while Lagos lawmaker, Gbajabiamila defeated Umar Bago to emerge Speaker.
- In 2015, the APC fumed and made threats, but the elections of Saraki and Dogara stood even after both men defected to the PDP.
What changed this time: A lot. The APC’s hold in the national assembly is now stronger than it was four years ago, having won more seats this time around in both chambers. The chances of an upset this time were very slim. The party learnt its lessons, and it showed on Tuesday with the margin of the victories.
- Lawan trounced Ndume who was backed by the National Working Committee of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with 79 votes to 28 votes.
- Gbajabiamila defeated Bago by 281 votes to 76 votes. Four years ago, when Gbajabiamila ran against former speaker Yakubu Dogara, it was a close race. Dogara polled 182 votes compared to Gbajabiamila’s 174 votes.
Meanwhile, a Delta APC senator, Obie Omo-Agege, believed to be the mastermind of an attack by thugs in the national assembly that led to the snatching of the mace has been elected as deputy senate president. He defeated longtime deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu of the PDP by 68 votes to 37 votes.
Why it matters: The APC can no longer make excuses. One of its frequent refrains in the past four years was that it could not make much progress because the men who led the national assembly were not cooperative. President Buhari even questioned the patriotism of Saraki and Dogara.