NASS Resumes, Suspense Over Principal Officers Heightens
Ahead of National Assembly resumption today, suspense over how the principal officers will emerge has intensified.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the political parties in both chambers are yet to harmonise and agree on the list of the potential principal officers.
While Senator Ali Ndume (Borno South) and Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti Central) are in contention for the office of the Senate leader, lawmakers from the minority parties are working against the emergence of former speaker of the house of representatives Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto South) as the Senate minority leader.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP last night a lawmaker said the leadership of the political parties are yet to send the list of their nominees to the Senate.
According to him, the leadership of the opposition parties will share the positions meant for them adding that their list is not ready.
He also said that the leadership of the APC is yet to decide the names of the lawmakers that will occupy their offices adding that the party will do that in consultation with the presidency.
“Well, we are resuming tomorrow (today). We are not resuming with principal officers because the political parties are yet to send their names. The opposition lawmakers are yet to decide who will be the minority leader likewise the APC is also yet to decide because it will be done in consultation with the Presidency,” he said.
On the importance of the Senate leader and the Senate minority leader in driving the Senate proceedings, the lawmaker said such a vacuum will not affect the plenary.
The 10th National Assembly had embarked on post-inauguration recess and Eid El Kabir break on June 15 and scheduled resumption today.
The presiding officers of the Senate President Godswill Akpabio and his Deputy, Senator Jibrin Barau; and those of the House, Speaker Tajudeen Abbas and his Deputy, Speaker Benjamin Kalu, were elected on the day of inauguration, June 13.
However, principal officers for both chambers, who help to run the parliament are yet to be chosen.
The principal officers in both chambers are majority leader, deputy majority leader, chief whip, deputy whip, minority leader, deputy minority leader, minority whip and deputy minority whip.
The plenary proceedings cannot function effectively without principal officers.
The majority leader, mostly referred to as the House Leader, moves important motions such as those for dissolution into committees of the whole and supply, executive sessions as well as adjournment while the minority leader seconds.
Also, the House leader sponsors executive bills, pieces of legislation from the Senate and moves for third (final) readings of bills, amongst other functions.
Both the chief whip and minority whip as well as their deputies ensure the orderliness and proper conduct of members during plenary proceedings.
Unlike presiding officers who are elected by lawmakers, principal officers are appointed by their political parties on the basis of majority and minority caucuses.
So far, feelers are that only the minority leader has emerged in the person of Rt.Hon. Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers) with Hon. George Ibezimako Ozodinobi (LP, Anambra) as the deputy minority leader.
However, it is yet clear who is going to emerge majority leader as the All Progressives Congress (APC), despite the promise by the national chairman, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu, has not indicated a member of the party selected for the position.
As at last check, some ranking members of APC in the House, including Julius Ihonvbere both (Edo), Muktar Betara (Borno), the Co-chairman of the Joint Task – 10th Assembly,
Usman Bello Kumo (Gombe), Yusuf Adamu Gagdi (Plateau) and the Deputy Majority Leader in the 9th House, Peter Akpatason were eyeing the coveted seat.
Besides the unveiling of Principal Officers, constitution of standing committees, unveiling of legislative agenda and confirmation of the recently appointed Service Chiefs are top priorities for the lawmakers as they resume.
It is expected that the headship and membership of Standing Committees would be announced for effective commencement of legislative business as the House executes its constitutional mandates of lawmaking and oversight through these panels.
The House had shortly before adjournment constituted special selection Ad-hoc Chaired by the Speaker Abbas with Deputy Speaker Kalu as Vice Chairman while each State Caucus and the Federal Capital Territory was to send a member into the panel which set up Standing Committees.
Also expected is the unveiling of the 10th House Legislative Agenda which guides and spells out priority areas for legislative intervention through bills, motions, oversight and investigations.
The Speaker had before adjournment of plenary on June 15, constituted a special ad-hoc committee on legislative agenda chaired by Ihonvbere, a Professor of Political Science.
The House is also expected to confirm of Service Chiefs appointed by President Bola Tinubu on June 19 when it was in recess.
Tinubu had approved the appointments of Maj. Gen. C.G Musa, Chief of Defence Staff; Maj. T. A Lagbaja, Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admirral E. A Ogalla Chief of Naval Staff; AVM H.B Abubakar Chief of Air Staff; DIG Kayode Egbetokun, Acting Inspector-General of Police, and DCG Adeniyi Bashir Adewale as the Ag. Comptroller General of Customs.
Meanwhile, a meeting of the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and members of its caucus in the Senate over who should emerge the minority leader ended in a deadlock.
The meeting, held at the PDP national headquarters in Abuja, failed to agree on who should be leader, opting instead to take more nominations which will be submitted to the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio when the National Assembly resumes today.
PDP leadership and the senators said they will continue consultations on how minority leadership will emerge, adding that they have resolved to present a unified leadership after due and conclusive considerations.
So far, contenders for the position are former Sokoto State governor, Senator Aminu Tambuwal; former Kebbi State governor, Senator Adamu Aliero; and Senator Abdul Ningi.
The race for the position has been intense following claims by pro-PDP groups of a plot by the Senate majority party, All Progressives Congress (APC), working in cahoots with “outsiders” to hijack the minority leadership position.
However, the national publicity secretary of PDP, Hon Debo Ologunagba who unveiled the resolutions of the meeting, said, the meeting condemned alleged subterranean moves by APC to meddle with the affairs of the Minority with regards to the emergence of the Minority Leadership which is an exclusive reserve of the Minority Caucus as expressly stipulated by Constitutional provisions and Standing Rules of the Senate.
“The PDP and the Senators continue with consultations on the emergence of the Minority Leadership in the Senate and are resolved to collectively present a unified leadership after due and conclusive considerations. Accordingly, the PDP will continue to provide the necessary leadership in this regard.