Will These 7 National Assembly 'Landlords' Vacate Their Seats In 2019?
They are regarded as ‘landlords’ of the National Assembly, having remained in the complex for close to two decades.
While some of these ‘landlords’ have spent 18 years at the National Assembly, some are in their 14th year.
As far as the affairs of the National Assembly are concerned, they must be reckoned with, and their roles cannot be pushed aside.
With the release of the timetable for the 2019 general election, it remains to be seen whether these landlords would want to retain their seats
We x-rays the top 7 lawmakers who have taken ownership of the National Assembly, so to speak.
1. Senator David Mark (PDP, Benue, 1999-date)
He is one of the privileged lawmakers to have endured the red chambers from 1999 when the country embraced democracy after many years of military rule.
The former military administrator of Niger State and Minister of Communication rose to the topmost seat of the legislature in 2007 when he became the Senate President.
For eight years, he occupied that position, making him the longest-serving Senate President.
Mark, who represents the people of Benue South Senatorial District was succeeded by the incumbent Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki.
He was almost kicked out of the Senate in 2015 when his initial victory was annulled, He, however, reclaimed his mandate through a rerun election held on February 20, 2016.
After the narrow victory that returned him, Mark has remained deaf and dumb in the national assembly.
Two and half years into the life of this Senate, Mark has not contributed to any debate on the floor and he is not a member of any standing committee, leading some Nigerians to refer to him as Chairman of the Sleeping Committee.
Mark is one of the politicians that may likely contest for the Presidency come 2019. With the middle belt behind him, he may go for the big seat.
But if Mark chooses to return to the Senate in 2019, then there are strong indications that he may not be that lucky again due to the general non-performance that is characterizing his current mandate at the senate.
2. Senator Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan (APC, Yobe, 1999-date)
Ahmed Lawan like Senator Mark came to the National Assembly in 1999.
While Mark was sworn in for the Upper Chamber, Lawan was in Lower Chamber. He remained in the House until 2007 when he stepped up to the Senate.
The Yobe-born politician was the preferred candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Senate Presidency in 2015 when the Eighth Senate was inaugurated. He, however, lost to Saraki.
In January this year, Lawan became the Senate Leader. His knowledge of the workings of the legislature is superb, according to his colleagues.
He has spent 18 and half years in the National Assembly.
He is believed to be eyeing the governorship seat of his state.
Lawan believes it is rife for him to come home and serve the people in executive capacity. What may count against him is the perception that his relationship with Governor Gaidam is not as cordial as it used to be.
3. Senator Ike Ekweremadu (PDP, 2003)
The Enugu born lawmaker is one of the most ranking members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). This is thanks to the unholy political romance between his party and the Saraki boys of the APC that he benefitted from, and launched himself into retaining his deputy senate presidency position.
At the moment, he is the longest-serving presiding officer in the National Assembly, having served for eight years as Deputy Senate President (2007-2015) under Mark.
His emergence as Saraki’s Deputy has earned him the hatred of some top ranking members of the ruling party, many of who will certainly be plotting against his return to the red chambers in 2019.
Aside that, Ekweremadu is said to be eyeing to be the vice president of whoever emerges as the PDP presidential candidate in 2019.
4. Rep Nicholas Ebomo Mutu (PDP, Delta, 1999-date)
The 57-year-old lawmaker came to the House at the inception of this current democratic dispensation. He won election to represent Bomadi/Patani Federal Constituency of Delta State at the age of 39, and has been winning elections since then.
Mutu has been operating underground, so to speak, and has been heading the House Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) from 2009 to date. The soft-spoken Delta lawmaker rarely contributes to debate on the floor of the House.
His winning streak has become a matter of public debate as some politicians feel he should give way to contenders from the Patani axis of the federal constituency.
5. Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno, 2003-date)
Born in 1959, Ndume was first sworn in to represent Chibok/Damboa/Gwoza in 2003. He represented the Federal Constituency until 2011 when he moved forward to represent the Borno South Senatorial District.
He was, in 2007, made the minority leader while he was in the defunct All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP).
At the inauguration of the Eighth Senate in 2015, he was made the Senate Leader, a position he occupied until January 10, this year.
He was rumoured to be planning to succed Gov Shettima as Governor of Borno. He has however, come out to deny the rumour.
It is not clear what his next political move would be after his stay at the National Assembly received a deadly blow when he was suspended in March over the point of order he raised, demanding the probe of Saraki and Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi) over the SUV and certificate scandal, respectively.
6. Rep Leo Ogor (PDP, Delta, 2003-date)
Leo Okuweh Ogor is the Minority Leader of the House. He has been representing Isoko North/Isoko South Federal Constituency of Delta State since 2003. He had served as Deputy House Leader during the last assembly.
Ogor, 58, is one lawmaker that easily convinces his colleagues by arguing a matter logically. Ogor is one of the most outspoken members of the House.
Not only does he command respect among his colleagues, he wields a lot of influence in the House and attracts lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties to his office at all times.
During the last leadership contest in the House, Ogor secretly nurtured the ambition of becoming the deputy speaker, but he did not succeed.
He is currently undergoing treatment for partial paralysis, popularly called stroke. Ogor may not resume legislative duties for the next few months.
Before he fell sick, he was rumoured to be planning to move up to the Senate.
The politician, who had been conspicuously absent from plenary since the National Assembly (NASS) returned from recess is nonetheless, said to be responding to treatment.
It is not clear whether he would be contesting in 2019 considering his health status.
7. Rep Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos, 2003-date)
Gbajabiamila came to the House in 2003 to represent Surulere 1 Federal Constituency of Lagos State at the age of 40. He first served as House Minority Whip from 2007, and later became Minority Leader, a position he held up to 2015.
Gbajabiamila is one lawmaker that commands a lot of respect from his colleagues largely due to the way he articulates his ideas and thoughts each time he speaks on the floor of the House as his colleagues listen with rapt attention whenever he contributes to a matter.
Gbajabiamila is arguably the most outspoken member of the House and the most accessible, able to respond to a journalist’s inquiry even on a walkway. Although he contested for the position of Speaker on June 9, 2015 and lost to Speaker Yakubu Dogara, he was compensated with the position of House Leader.
He is one of those eyeing to replace Remi Tinubu as the Senator representing Lagos Central in the Senate in 2019.
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