All is set for the inauguration of the 10th session of the National Assembly.
The inauguration follows the end of the ninth session of the Senate and the House of Representatives (2019 to 2023) and the proclamation of the new assembly (2023-2027) by the country’s president.
Both chambers held their valedictory sessions for the last assembly on Wednesday and Saturday respectively ahead of 11 June when their four-year tenure officially terminates.
Today’s inaugural ceremonies, which commence at 10 a.m., have two major components, namely the swearing in of the lawmakers-elect and the election of the presiding officers of the two chambers.
The Clerk of the National Assembly (CNA), Sani Tambawal, will conduct the proceedings in both chambers. Traditionally, the CNA would conclude the proceedings in the Senate and then move over to the House to perform the same role.
However, the proceedings could hold simultaneously in both chambers since the House Standing Order now provides that the deputy CNA “shall preside over the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker” in the absence of the CNA.
While all 109 senators-elect will take the oath of office today, only 358 members-elect will do so in the lower chamber. This is because the member-elect for Jalingo federal constituency of Taraba State, Isam’ila Maihanchi, died in April while the Speaker of the 9th House, Femi Gbajabiamila, will be taking up a new appointment as the chief of staff to President Bola Tinubu. This means that INEC will have to conduct a by-election to fill the two seats.
Mr Gbajabiamila had been re-elected on 25 February to represent Surulere 1 Federal constituency of Lagos State for the sixth time until his appointment a few days ago.
The lawmakers were elected during the 25 February National Assembly elections though a few others were returned during subsequent supplementary elections on 15 April.
The election of the four presiding officers is the major attraction in the entire event.
At the last count, there are four aspirants still in the race for senate president; all ranking lawmakers and members of the ruling APC. They are Godswill Akpabio, a former minority leader of the senate, minister and former governor of Akwa Ibom; Abdulaziz Yari, a former member of the House of Representatives and former governor of Zamfara State; Orji Kalu, former chief whip of the ninth senate, former member of Third Republic House of Representatives and former governor of Abia State; and a former member of the House of Representatives and senator-elect for Imo West, Osita Izubaso.
Kano North senator-elect and former Senate Appropriation Committee chairman, Barau Jibrin, and the senator-elect for Niger East, Sani Musa are candidates for the seat of deputy senate president.
There are reports, however, that Messrs Kalu and Izunaso have stepped down for Mr Akpabio while Mr Musa has quit the race to back Mr Jibrin.
In the House, the candidates are Idris Wase, the deputy speaker of the ninth House from Plateau State; a former chairman of Land Transport Committee of the House, Tajudeen Abbas from Kaduna State; former Appropriation Committee chair, Muktar Betara from Borno State and former chairman of committee on Navy, Yusuf Gagdi, also from Plateau State.
Also in the race are former chairman of the House Committee on National Security and Intelligence, Aminu Jaji from Zamfara State; ex-Water Resource Committee Chairman, Sada Soli from Katsina State, and Miriam Onuoha, the only female aspirant, from Imo State.
Former House Leader Alhassan Doguwa, Makki Yalleman and Abdulraheem Olawuyi, who are all APC lawmakers, have since dropped out of the race to back Mr Abbas, the anointed candidate of Mr Tinubu and the APC leadership. Ditto for Messrs Betara and Gagdi.
There are indications that more aspirants will take that route before the actual voting commences on the floor as a result of the ongoing horse-trading and negotiations.
For the deputy speakership position, those in the race are the former spokesperson of the House, Ben Kalu from Abia State, Francis Waive from Delta and another lawmaker, Musliu Akinremi. But it appears only Mr Kalu, the APC anointed candidate, remains in the race
Nevertheless, whoever emerges at the end of the contest today will be the ninth substantive senate president and the eight substantive speaker in the current Fourth Republic.
PREMIUM TIMES will bring you the live updates of the ceremonies from both chambers. Also follow us on our Facebook, YouTube and Twitter channels.
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