BY OBUTE JAMES
The 10th National Assembly and President Ahmed Bola Tinubu Administration will be significant and unique in several ways as this is the first time in the history of Nigeria that a former lawmaker will be President, Vice President, Secretary to the Federal Government, Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff.
This is also the first time in the history of Nigerian Parliament that a lawmaker who sponsored highest number of bills will emerge as the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Dr. Abbas sponsored 75 bills in the 9th National Assembly while Mr. President assented to 21 of them, the highest Private Member Bills by an individual lawmaker to be signed into law in the history of Nigerian Parliament.
Traditionally, during inauguration of the legislators, the Clerk of the National Assembly conducts
the election in the Senate where the President and Deputy President of the Senate will emerge. He will then swear-in these two presiding officers and other 107 senators before proceeding to the House of Representatives to conduct the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
However, with the recent amendment of the House of Representatives Rules which allow the Deputy Clerk of the National Assembly to conduct the election in the absence of the Clerk, the elections of the presiding officers of the two Chambers can be conducted simultaneously. This indicates that whatever is the outcome of election in the Senate will have minimal or no effect in the election in Green Chamber.
In 2015, the preferred candidates of the APC for the principal positions in the Senate and House of Representatives did not emerge during the inauguration of 9th National Assembly due to several factors including the one mentioned above.
The emergence of Abubakar Bukola Saraki from Kwara State (North Central) as Senate President paved the way for the emergence of Yakubu Dogara from Bauchi (North East) to emerge as Speaker of the House of Representatives because the then ambition of Ahmad Lawan from Yobe State (North East) had been thwarted. As a result of that, lawmakers from the North East in the House of Representatives had to withdraw from the camp of Femi Gbajabiamila and pitch tent with Dogara’s camp, having lost the opportunity to produce the Senate President.
Several things had changed since then including the approach of the ruling party’s NWC and Presidency which allow enough time for consultations before the inauguration of 10th National Assembly.
The ruling party on May 8 ahead of the Inauguration of 10th National Assembly announced the preferred candidates for the principal positions. They are Godswill Akpabio, Jibrin Barau, Tajudeen Abbas and Benjamin Kalu for Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives respectfully.
Dr. Tajudeen Abbas, a one time lecturer was first elected as a representative of Zaria Federal Constituency of Kaduna State under the platform of Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, a political party that merged with other political parties to form All Progressives Congress, APC ahead of 2015 general election.
In 2015, Tajudeen was re-elected under the platform of APC. He was also given the mandate to represent his people in 2019 and 2023 due to his landmark achievements.
Since Abbas’ emergence as a representative of Zaria Federal Constituency, there is hardly any ward in his constituency that did not feel his impact in every legislative session, (2011 to 2015; 2015 to 2019 and 2019 to 2023) in respect of constituency projects and programmes.
Though National Assembly Service Commission, takes the responsibility of paying salary and allowance of legislative aides, (about 5 to 7 aides) of each legislator, Dr. Abbas on his own has over 50 people (including less- privileged people) on his personal pay roll which he pays periodically.
This is apart from from various constituency projects like rural & urban electrification (provision and installation of transformers), provision of portable drinking water (solar powered boreholes), grant to youths and women for empowerment, provision of ICT centres and scholarship to students both within and outside the country, among others
Despite the fact that only few people are allowed to work as aides to a Member or a Senator (apart from principal officers) base on National Assembly Service Commission’s rules, the appointment of Abbas’ aides is spread across the geo-political political zones.
The immediate past Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, recently at a function at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja in an interface with Members-elect said unlike other House committee chairmen where their deputies always complained bitterly about their actions (negligence and inability to carry them along), Hon. Abbas’ Deputy on Land Transport Committee, surprised him when he came pleading that Abbas should be given support for the position of the Speaker of the House of Representatives because of his good leadership qualities.
Gbajabiamila also noted that a Member of the House of Representatives, Christian from Southern Kaduna nominated Abbas as the Caucus Leader of Kaduna Reps Members.
Abbas also recently hinted that the House of Representatives will be dynamic under his leadership if elected as the Speaker.
Tajudeen Abbas said the appointment of statutory and standing committee chairmen and their deputies will be based on merit (discipline and experience. According to him, the number of deputy committee chairmen will be increased and they will be relevant in the committee activities.
Dr Abbas journey’s to the office of the Speaker, seems to become easy due to the withdrawal of major contenders from race. Courtesy of President Bola Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima as well as Abbas’ consultation with relevant stakeholders.
Abbas in display of his humility did not only meet with leadership and chieftains of the governing APC but also met with leadership and chieftains of the opposition parties, these include former presidents, governors, lawmakers, traditional rulers, clergymen among others.
Though Dr Abbas is expected to unfold his agenda either before the inauguration or after if he emerges as the Speaker, the legislative business in the House of Representatives will never remain the same.
Obute James is a Journalist and Public Affairs Analyst.