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Party Primaries Disorganise National Assembly

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The National Assembly is now struggling to get back to the business of legislation after bruising political party primaries disorganised both its leadership and members, particularly in the Senate. The National Assembly resumed plenary on Tuesday, June 14 after going on recess to enable members to attend their political party congresses and primaries.

In the House of Representatives, Speaker, Rt. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila and his Deputy, Hon. Idris Wase both of the All Progressives Congress (APC) easily won the primaries of their parties in their respective constituencies. The Majority and Minority Leaders of the House also won their nominations to recontest their seats. The count is however still on, as to how many other members of the House succeeded with renomination to contest in the 2023 general elections. Indications however, are that a significant number of members of the House may not have won their nominations, particularly in the parties through which they first contested primaries. There are reports that several members who failed in the primaries of their political parties may have switched parties to be able to be on the ballot.

In the Senate, the two Presiding Officers, Senate President Ahmad Lawan and Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege are not looking to come back to the Senate at all. Lawan, who contested in the Presidential primaries of the ruling APC, failed to win the ticket, losing to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former Governor of Lagos State. In the period preceding the contest for President, the senatorial primaries was also going on. An aspirant, Bashir Machina won the primaries to contest under the APC for the Yobe North Senatorial District seat, meaning that Lawan could not come back to run in the primaries that had already been concluded.

There are unconfirmed reports that Senator Lawan is seeking to have the APC nominee for his Senatorial District step down, so that he can be the candidate for the election and this is being resisted by the nominee. Also, from the Senate, its Deputy President, Ovie Omo-Agege will not be returning as Senator in the 10th Senate as he is the governorship candidate of the APC in Delta State. The Delta State governorship is currently held by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), with the elections in 2023 expected to be a stiff contest between the APC and the PDP. The Senate is further embroiled in confusion with both its Majority and Minority Leaders resigning from their political parties, the ruling APC and opposition PDP, respectively and moving to different contest platforms. The Senate is expected to announce replacements for these positions in the coming week.

The outcome of the political parties’ primaries already indicates a shift in leadership and power dynamics in the National Assembly, even at the current time, with most legislative business likely to be driven or drifting with the politics. Caught between the elections, campaigns, holidays and breaks, dates available for legislative work in the National Assembly have now been severely reduced. The current National Assembly is expected to wind down in about 11 months, with a new National Assembly, the 10th Assembly expected to be inaugurated in June 2023.