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HomePoliticsSigned, sealed, delivered: how Akpabio, Abbass emerged Senate President, speaker of House...

Signed, sealed, delivered: how Akpabio, Abbass emerged Senate President, speaker of House of Reps

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By Oludare Mayowa

Former Governor of Akwa Ibom State and ex-minority senate leader, Godswill Akpabio, won the race to emerge as the president of the 10th senate on Tuesday, while Jibrin Barau emerged unopposed as his deputy.

Akpabio emerged with 63 senators’ votes, while his closest rival scored 45 votes.

At the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbass also won the race to become Speaker of the House in an open election, where members were called one after the other by the clerk of the assembly to announce their preference in a voice vote.

Abbass won by a wide margin with a total of 353 votes against his rival and immediate past deputy speaker of the house to defeat the immediate past deputy speaker, Ahmed Wase, who scored 3 votes, and Sani Jaji, who pulled 3 votes.

Also, Benjamin Kalu emerged as the opposition’s deputy speaker as his main challenger had earlier stepped down in accordance with the party directive.

Both the national officers of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) and President Bola Tinubu have rallied support for the two national assembly leaders in a race that was marred with controversy and high political intrigue.

In the chamber of the national assembly to witness the voting are some governors of the ruling party and the members of the National Working Committee of the party.

Also present in the chamber to witness the voting was the immediate past speaker of the House of Representatives and Chief of Staff to President Tinubu, Femi Gbajabiamila, who had also openly thrown his support for Abbass as the anointed one by the president.

A number of elected legislatures have kicked against the imposition of candidates by the party and president, saying the action would compromise the independence of the second arm of the government.

However, the president and party had based their support for Akpabio on the need to balance the religious divide and prevent the marginalization of the Christian faith in the scheme of things. The emergence of Tinubu and his deputy, Kasheem Shettima, who both belong to the same Islamic faith, in a country equally divided between Christians and Muslims

With the election of the principal officers of the 10th National Assembly, the way is cleared for the commencement of legislative duties by the parliament.

The new Senate President, Akpabio, began his educational journey at the Methodist Primary School, Ukana, Essien Udim Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State; the Federal Government College, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, where he was a senior prefect; and completed his secondary school education.

His leadership journey continued even after secondary school, as he was elected Speaker of a Parliamentary Year during his sojourn as a student at the University of Calabar, Cross River State, where he obtained his law degree.

Having obtained his bachelor’s degree in law, Akpabio had a short stint as a teacher before he moved on to work as an associate with Paul Usoro and Co., a law firm in Nigeria.

From there, he served in the telecommunications industry with EMIS Telecoms Limited, a wireless telecommunications company in Lagos, Nigeria, and in 2002, he rose to the position of Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the company.

Akpabio also served at the national level as the National Publicity Secretary of the Association of Telecommunication Companies in Nigeria.

READ ALSO: President Tinubu favoured candidate, Abbass emerges speaker of House of Reps with 353 votes

In 2002, he was appointed Commissioner for Petroleum and Natural Resources by the then Governor Obong Victor Attah in Akwa Ibom State. Between 2002 and 2006, he served as a commissioner in three key ministries: petroleum and natural resources, local government and chieftaincy affairs, as well as land and housing.

Following his stint as commissioner, Akpabio threw his hat into the ring for the Akwa Ibom governorship election, where he battled with 57 others to clinch the ticket of his then party, the Peoples Democratic Party.

Akpabio won the governorship election in 2006 and got re-elected as the number one citizen of Akwa Ibom for the second time in 2011.

In 2013, Akpabio was elected chairman of the newly formed PDP Governors Forum.

In 2015, he contested and won the Senate seat of the Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District to represent the district in the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Akpabio, in 2015, as a first-timer against Senate rule, was made a principal officer as the Senate Minority Leader.

In August 2018, he resigned as the Senate Minority Leader after announcing his defection to the All Progressives Congress.

In July 2019, he was nominated by the former President, Muhammadu Buhari, and screened by the Nigerian Senate for a ministerial appointment. On August 21, 2019, he was sworn in as Minister for Niger Delta Affairs.

In June 2022, Akpabio’s ambition went even higher when he resigned his appointment as the minister for Niger Delta Affairs to contest in the presidential primaries of the ruling All Progressives Congress but stepped down on the night of the primaries for the president, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

Having stepped down for the President, Akpabio, against all odds, clinched his senatorial ticket through a court order from a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police, Mr. Udom Ekpoudom.

Having secured the ticket, Akpabio began the tussle for the Senate Presidency and eventually got anointed as the party’s choice.

As for the new speaker of the House of Representatives, Abbass was born on October 1, 1963, in Kaduna State, hails from the Zazzau Emirate, and is a prince with the traditional title of the Iyan Zazzau.

He holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna, in 1988 and 1993, respectively.

He furthered his education by completing a doctorate degree in business management at Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto, in 2010.

He became a lecturer at Kaduna State University (KASU) between 1993 and 2001.

From 2001 to 2005, Abbas worked as a marketing manager at the Nigerian Tobacco Distribution Company, now the British-American Tobacco Company.

Abbas left private and academic life to join politics in 2010, where he contested for the House of Representatives seat in 2011 and won.

He sponsored the highest number of bills in the 8th Assembly between 2015 and 2019 and also sponsored a record-breaking 74 bills, out of which 21 were signed into law between 2019 and 2023.

He had served on more than seven committees in the House since 2015, including Commerce, Finance, Special Duties, Defense, Public Procurement, and the National Planning and Economic Development Committee.

Until his emergence as Speaker, Abbas was the House Committee Chairman for Land Transport.

(omayowa@globalfinancialdigest.com; Newsroom: +234 8033 964 138)

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