9th Assembly’s Leadership: Reactions Trail Lawan, Omo-Agege Others Emergence …Buhari,PDP Congratulate Senate President, Speaker, Deputies …Obasanjo Kicks, Says Position Lopsided

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Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria

Reactions have trailed the emergence of senators Ahmad Lawan and Ovie Omo-Agege yesterday as President of the Senate and Deputy President of the Senate, respectively.
Lawan (APC-Yobe) emerged president of the 9th Senate after defeating his only contender, Sen. Ali Ndume with 79 votes. Ndume had 28.
In the same vein, Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege (APC-Delta) emerged deputy senate president after polling 68 to defeat former deputy president of the senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who polled 37.
Reacting, former President of the Senate, Adolphus Wabara said the outcome of the election was an indication that the members-elect voted their choice.
He urged them to hit the ground running, noting that Nigerians are expecting their contribution to the growth of the economy.
He said the voting was democratic and keenly contested because nobody came unopposed. “The victors should do the needful in the interest of the masses,” he said.
Former Kano State Governor, Ibrahim Shekarau said the way in which the senators-elect conducted themselves was impressive.
Shekarau, who is a member of the 9th senate, said it is a victory for democracy. “I congratulate all the senators-elect for democratic rights in their voting and I congratulate the president,” he said.
Sen. BarauJibrin (APC-Kano) said the outcome of the election was good for democracy.) He said with Lawan’s leadership, he was optimistic that the 9th senate would be rancour free.
He added that he was hopeful that democracy would get stronger as the years go by and what happened was a clear indication of how much senators-elect believed in Lawan’s leadership style.
Senator Matthew Urghoghide (PDP-Edo) said he was satisfied with the outcome of the election, saying he had no regrets publicly declaring support for Lawan’s emergence. He expressed hope that “the 9th senate will deliver on its mandate.”
Senator Clifford Ordia (PDP-Edo) also identified with Lawan, adding that “what is left is to settle to the business of lawmaking and other legislative activities.”
Our correspondent reports that the inauguration started on a rancorous note after a protest by some senators-elect over announcement by Mr Mohammed Omolori, Clerk of the National Assembly that open secret ballot system was to be used to elect the presiding officers.
It however ended peacefully as the situation was brought under control by the clerk, who officiated the election process.
The inauguration started at exactly 10:a.m. with 107 senators-elect in attendance as against 109 as two senatorial seats in Imo were declared vacant.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated heartily the newly elected presiding officers of the Ninth National Assembly.
President Buhari in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina in Abuja also saluted all the national legislators and their political parties for their display of patriotism and non-partisanship before and during the election.
He commended the transparent and fair nature of the voting process, adjudging it as a plus for the democracy in the country.
President Buhari described the emergence of the new leaders of the legislative branch of government as “a new dawn, different from duplicity and perfidy of the immediate past.”
The President charged the winners to use their exalted positions for the higher interest of the country, her people, and for the growth of democracy.
According to him, “The Executive does not desire a rubber stamp Legislature. While separation of powers is essential, collaboration among all Arms of Government should be the name of the game. Opposition need not be virulent.”
President Buhari noted that, “Stepping into the Next Level, the legislature has a big role to play for the goals of the administration to be achieved,” stressing that, “This is for the ultimate good of the nation.”
The President urged contestants who lost out to be gallant in defeat, and join hands with the victors who should exhibit magnanimity and eschew vindictiveness.
He said, “At the end of the day, we, the people, who elected our representatives at the national level, are the winners.”
On its part, the National Working Committee, NWC, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday congratulated the 9th National Assembly for its successful inauguration.
The party commended the newly elected Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege as well as the newly elected Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila and Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase for their victory in the keenly contested elections.
In a statement signed by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party vowed to stand on the side of decency and utmost respect for the institution of the National Assembly and “the values we hold as a people.”
The statement further read: “Our party charges the federal lawmakers, as representatives of the people, to place the welfare, wishes and aspirations of Nigerians above every other considerations by ensuring a strong and independent legislature that upholds the tenets of democracy and the dictates of our constitution.
“The 9th National Assembly therefore must work hard to save our nation from the prevailing despondency caused by the misrule of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, by effectively applying its statutory legislative instruments to guarantee good governance and fiscal prudence, curb corruption, check the excesses of the executive and protect the rights of Nigerians from incessant violations.
“The PDP reminds the National Assembly members to bear in mind that their allegiance is to the people and the constitution and not to any particular leader or group. “Our party charges the legislature to work only in the interest of our nation and resist the manipulations and pressure that might come from quarters that seek to undermine our democratic order.”
The PDP also reiterated its commitment to “the welfare of Nigerians,” stressing that it continue to keep its focus on “the quest for good governance, national cohesion and economic wellbeing of the people, even as we pursue our collective aspiration for the successful retrieval of our stolen Presidential mandate at the tribunal.”
However, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has decried the present government arrangement in Nigeria, saying the Senate President is from North-East, the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria is from the North-East, The President of the country is from the North-West. They are all from what we call the core north.
How can you have that kind of arrangement and then be absolutely insensitive to it (lack of geographical diversity)? this came as he said that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government is driving Nigeria towards “disaster and instability”. Speaking with newsmen, noted that although the country has made considerable progress since the new dispensation began in 1999, the pace at which it is currently moving shows the nation may be inching towards disaster and instability. “I think we have no choice but to be on the path for sustainable development.
“The progress we are making may be questionable—-Is it fast enough? Is it steady enough? Is it stable enough? Are we taking two steps forward and one step back or one step side-way?
“You can question that, but we have no choice but to be on (the) path for sustainable development. Any other thing will be a disaster. In fact, the pace at which we are going now is tending more and more toward disaster and instability and unsustainability.” ‘No Confidence in the Economy’ “The problem is that we are just not doing what we should be doing Nobody has that confidence, and we cannot develop Nigeria without that confidence in our economy.
Both for domestic investors and foreign investors.” ‘Anti-graft institutions have been corrupted’ said Obasanjo, Speaking further on the state of the nation, Obasanjo said “I set up two (anti-corruption) institutions, I came with two laws that were not there before, to fight corruption. And those who claim they are fighting corruption today have not brought in anything different. If anything, they have corrupted those two institutions.
“And the institutions were open and independent. I never, never, as president had to say to either the head of ICPC or EFCC: ‘Oh, chase this person’.”
“Nigeria was a pariah state. Within the first four years (1999-2003)… we actually hosted the commonwealth. And Nigeria which was kicked out of the Commonwealth became the host of a Commonwealth Head of Governments Meeting (CHOGOM). We became the darling of almost all nations. The economy started doing well.
“I remember on one occasion one day or one week, ChukwumaSoludo (then governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria) phoned me and said: “Sir, in one day, we had an inflow of $80 million”. From foreign direct flow; not money from our oil export or cocoa export. Just direct! And he (Soludo) said to me: “Sir, this is almost unbelievable.”
“I said we were not where I want us to be yet. I want us to be $100 million per day. That means in five working days, that will be half a billion dollars. If we are making half a billion dollars a week of five working days; in 52 weeks, it will be $26 billion. It is possible. I got debt relief.”
“I think there is a presumption in our constitution that our system will bring out competent leaders devoid of extremism, religious or tribal bigotry. Leaders who understand what it takes to hold the country together and put it in high gear for development, unity and an inclusive and shared society.
“These are assumptions. And if these assumptions come true, what is meant to be achieved in our country will be achieved. But the kind of situation you have now cannot allow those assumptions to become reality. Now you have a situation where three top officials of government will be from only two northern zones. Ahmed Lawan (who has been pencilled down as Senate President) is from the North-East, the acting chief justice of Nigeria is from the north-east, The President of the country is from the north-west. They are all from what we call the core north. How can you have that kind of arrangement and then be absolutely insensitive to it (lack of geographical diversity)?
“So the prescription that our constitution makes of the kind of leadership that should emerge, we have failed to achieve that with the present leadership we have in place. The Constitution expects the executive to care for the welfare and security of every Nigerian. But in the present situation, they don’t seem to care.”