We commence a series on lawmakers to be on the lookout for in Nigeria’s Tenth National Assembly. Who are the newbies, returning lawmakers, young people, former governors, oldest lawmakers (by age), oldest lawmakers (by terms), and lots more to be watched in the Senate and House of Representatives? Follow the series.
By Sharon Eboesomi and Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq
Following the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly, about seventy-three (67%) of the one hundred and nine (109) members of the Senate are first-term Senators.
They join a few other returning Senators who retained their seats in the 10th Assembly. Importantly, some of these first-term Senators in the 10th Senate are former Governors, former members who have served in the House of Representatives, ex-political appointees and even professionals.
Given the nature of representative democracy, however, where parliamentary experience plays a huge role in the ability of a lawmaker to perform efficiently, not much attention may naturally be paid to the newbies in the National Assembly. Despite this, the antecedents of some of these new Senators and their long walk to Nigeria’s federal parliament make them major figures in the Red Chamber to look out for over the next four years.
We examine ten of these newbies in the Tenth Senate in no particular order.
- Senator Ireti Kingibe (Labour Party, FCT Senatorial District)
A three-time Senatorial Aspirant under the defunct All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressive Congress (APC) respectively, the female lawmaker who got her dream seat at the Senate on a fourth attempt is definitely one parliamentarian to look out for.
For political watchers, that the civil engineer-turned-politician had to consistently seek the legislative seat for twenty years meant she had something to offer. In the build-up to the 2023 polls, Ms Kingibe was one of the five Senatorial Candidates who participated in the first-ever Citizens Townhall on Legislative Elections held in the Federal Capital Territory for National Assembly candidates. An action that many say endeared her to the FCT electorate and indicated her readiness to provide efficient representation, especially where the incumbent, Senator Philip Aduda, was absent.
In an exclusive chat with OrderPaper Nigeria shortly before her inauguration, Senator Kingibe had assured residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) of her readiness for quality representation through accessibility, SDG-centered projects, mass housing, and agro-processing businesses, among others. As one of the only three women in the Senate, many women and girls will also be on the lookout for her approach to advocacy for women’s participation in politics and sundry issues.
Having emerged victorious against all odds, expectations are rife that it should be nothing short of efficient service delivery from a lawmaker whose ride to the Red Chamber on the back of the youth-driven ‘Obidient Movement’ saw her edge out a third-term Senator and Principal Officer.
READ ALSO: EXCLUSIVE: Five things Senator-Elect, Ireti Kingibe said about her plans for FCT
- Senator Asuquo Ekpeyong Jr. (APC, Cross River South Senatorial District)
9th NASS: OrderPaper inducts five lawmakers into MVP Hall of Fame
Thirty-seven-year-old Asuquo Ekpenyong Jr. is the youngest Senator in the 10th Senate. Not a new name in Cross River Politics, at least since 2015 when he was appointed Commissioner for Finance by Governor Benedict Ayade, he, however, has to prove his mettle in the Red Chamber.
He was appointed Commissioner for Finance at the age of 29 in his home state of Cross River, making him the youngest commissioner in Nigeria. He would eventually become the longest-serving Finance Commissioner in the State, all of which primed him up to triumph in a Senatorial race that had a three-time Member of the House of Representatives and a former member of the National Assembly in the Second Republic as frontrunners.
There is no doubt, therefore, that his youthfulness may have contributed to his emergence as the preferred choice of his constituents, having especially won such a major election using a completely data-driven and technologically innovative campaign with a very small team of young men and women. For Nigeria’s youth demography, which is currently without representation in the Red Chamber, the young population’s eyes would perhaps be on him to champion their cause in the 10th Senate.
Additionally, given his background in the finance sector and very visible presence during the Godswill Akpabio Campaign for Senate Presidency, there are grounds to believe that he could be taking over from Senator Uba Sani as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions.
READ ALSO: Parliament Spotlight: Asuquo Ekpenyong Jnr | Youngest Senator-Elect, 10th NASS
- Senator Sumaila Abdurrahman Kawu (NNPP, Kano South Senatorial District)
A three-time Member of the House of Representatives and former Deputy Minority Leader in the 7th House of Representatives.
Before his sojourn into the Green Chamber, he had been an aspirant for the Kano State House of Assembly and upon his exit from the House of Representatives, former President Muhammadu Buhari appointed him as Presidential Aide on National Assembly Matters. Senator Kawu is, therefore, no stranger to parliamentary business. Expectations of him to be a strong voice of opposition in the Tenth Senate are therefore, in order.
Following a series of internal rifts within the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the Kano Chapter, he found his way to the New Nigeria Peoples’ Party (NNPP) in May 2022 from the governing party. His ride to the Senate thus did not come cheap; as he pipped veteran Senator Kabiru Gaya, who has been in the Red Chamber since 2007, to pick a seat in the federal parliament.
In the build-up to the race for President of the Senate, Senator Kawu was one of the outspoken voices from the opposition drumming up the thoughts that the independence of the National Assembly be preserved. Given his ranking status, there could also be some chance that he could emerge as one of the Principal Officers of the Senate Minority Caucus.
READ ALSO: PROFILES: 11 Former Rep Members ‘Graduating’ to the 10th Senate
- Senator Mohammed Tahir Monguno (APC, Borno North Senatorial District)
Senator Monguno, a five-time House of Representatives member since 1992, is, by many standards, a household name in Nigeria’s parliamentary records – Chief Whip, Deputy Speakership Aspirant, Speakership Aspirant, the Borno lawmaker had seen the length and breadth of the Green Chamber and was perhaps poised to improve his legislative contributions.The lawyer-turned-politician would thereafter apply to fill the vacant seat for his District in the Red Chamber following the incumbent’s appointment of him as one of his party’s national officials. Despite securing the Senate seat as a reward by his constituents for his service delivery in the House of Representatives, Monguno further earned himself the legacy prize of being one of only five Members of the Ninth National Assembly to be inducted into Nigeria’s first-ever Most Valuable Parliamentarian Hall of Fame (Class of 2019 – 2023).According to OrderPaper Nigeria; the convener of the initiative who described the inductees as public-spirited, performance-driven and excellence-inspired, the former House Chief Whip qualified for the recognition following his sponsorship of 53 bills in the Ninth House of Representatives; one of the highest tally by a single lawmaker in the outgone Assembly.
Sponsoring no less than 79% of the 67 bills sponsored by Members of the Ninth House of Representatives, fourteen (14) of these pieces of legislation were passed by the House for concurrence, thirteen (13) ended up at the Committee Stage while one was assented to, by the President. Some of these include the Nigerian Law Reform Commission (Amendment) Bill, Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts (Amendment) Bill, Export Prohibition Act (Repeal) Bill, Constitution Alteration Bills, and the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill.
Despite being a newbie, it will be a huge surprise for the Borno North Senator not to stand out in the Tenth Senate.
READ ALSO: 9th NASS: OrderPaper inducts five lawmakers into MVP Hall of Fame
- Senator Simon Davou Mwadkwon (PDP, Plateau North Senatorial District)
A three-time Member of the House of Representatives, the Plateau lawmaker is one with some background in both the executive and legislative arms of government.
An academic-turned-politician, Senator Mwadkwon’s political career saw him rise from being Management Committee Chairman of Riyom Local Government Council to becoming Executive Chairman of the Council before his move to the legislature. As the Member representing Barikin Ladi/Riyom Federal Constituency in the Ninth House of Representatives, Mwadkwon had 23 pieces of legislation to his name, making him one of the top performers in the Green Chamber.
Similar to Senator Monguno’s case, he was recognised by OrderPaper Nigeria as one of only eighteen (18) members of the 469-Member Ninth National Assembly who made it to the semifinals of Nigeria’s first-ever Most Valuable Parliamentarian Hall of Fame (Class of 2019 – 2023). The performance-driven recognition backed by data on their valuable contributions to the core function of lawmaking during the life of the Ninth Assembly took a departure from the norm associated with award programmes.
If not for anything, the above premises provide enough indication that the lawmaker is one to be on the lookout for in the Nigerian Senate.
READ ALSO: OrderPaper rewards 18 NASS Members for valuable contributions in lawmaking
- Senator Salihu Mustapha (APC, Kwara Central Senatorial District)A philanthropist and traditional title holder in the Ilorin Emirate, Salihu Mustapha is not likely to be a name you have stumbled upon in your quest for knowledge on Nigeria’s parliamentary history at any level.
Apart from a stint as an aide in the Presidency and his unsuccessful run for his state’s Governorship, the bulk of Senator Mustapha’s political life has been in political party administration. This, thus, raises doubts about his capacity to excel in Nigeria’s apex lawmaking institution. However, for close observers of the federal parliament, the focal point appears to be heavier on the Kwara Central Senatorial District seat than the occupant.
Previously occupied by the late strongman of Kwara politics, Olusola Saraki and his children; Gbemisola Saraki and Bukola Saraki, at different times, attention has always been on whoever represents the district. Considered by many as independent-minded, which earned him trials and tribulations from powerful political interests, Dr Bukola Saraki‘s tenure as President of the Eighth Senate is still a point of reference in Nigeria’s parliamentary history.For Dr
Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe who took over from him as Kwara Central Senator, he bowed out at the end of his first term in the Senate as one of the only five Members of the National Assembly inducted into Nigeria’s first-ever Most Valuable Parliamentarian (MVP) Hall of Fame (2019 – 2023). Given the legislative achievements of the last two occupants in particular, there is no doubt that Senator Mustapha must be wearing one of the biggest shoes in the 10th Senate.
Admirers have described Senator Mustapha as a longtime champion of women’s rights, a strong proponent of affirmative action and an advocate for supporting rural women through small and medium grants. He also appears to be very close to the current President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, as witnessed during the build-up to the Presiding Officers’ Election in the Red Chamber. The big question on the minds of many now would be how well this credential can help live up to the huge expectations of him as the lawmaker representing. Kwara Central Senatorial District.
- Senator Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (PDP, Sokoto South Senatorial District)
A newbie of a different kind in the Tenth Senate, Senator Tambuwal is one of the few lawmakers in the current National Assembly with the most robust experience in both the executive and legislature.
The Sokoto lawmaker held nearly all key positions in the House of Representatives up to being Speaker before an eventual switch to the executive, where he served as a two-time governor of Sokoto State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF). Having been Speaker for four years uninterrupted against the wishes of his own majority party – navigating all hurdles to avoid being impeached, the Senate Minority Caucus will be looking up to him to provide leadership in discharging their duties as a vibrant opposition.
Additionally, his tenure as Speaker witnessed some of the major probes in Nigeria’s legislative history, including those on the Fuel Subsidy scam, Power probe and Capital Markets probe. The expectations of parliamentary observers are therefore tilted towards the Minority Caucus under Senator Tambuwal, giving the majority APC a run for their numbers.
Known to be a politician of few words but highly strategic, his first hurdle will be the landmines alleged to be set ahead of him by lawmakers loyal to former Rivers governor, Nyesom Wike, speculated to be opposed to his emergence as Senate Minority Leader.
READ ALSO: 10TH NASS: Senate Minority Caucus alleges plot to foist one-party dictatorship
- Senator Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole (APC, Edo North Senatorial District)
One of Nigeria’s most popular labour leaders, Senator Oshiomhole, rose to prominence as President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) in the days of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. He went on to serve as two-time governor of Edo State and National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC).In comparison with his former governor colleagues who would easily chase a Ministerial seat, Senator Oshimhole chose the path of party leadership and would have remained there until his unceremonious exit from office in 2018. Known to be unafraid of political battles, he initially declared for the office of President in 2022 but later withdrew in support of the current President and picked up the Senatorial ticket of the APC for his home district.
Given the above background and one known to be very vocal, there is no doubt that the Edo Senator will play a vital role in protecting the interest of his party and the federal government in the Senate. While he may be a newbie, there is a huge possibility that Senator Oshiomhole may also be given the nod to chair one of the Senate’s most powerful committees to enable him to bring his energy, despite being one of the oldest lawmakers in the Red Chamber to oversight functions.
READ ALSO: PROFILES: Meet 10 Ex-Governors Moving to the 10th National Assembly
- Senator David Nweze Umahi (APC, Ebonyi South Senatorial District)
From chairing the state chapter of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) to becoming Deputy Governor and later Governor, Senator David Umahi has been in the thick of politics in the last fifteen years. Little wonder, the engineer-turned-politician said in May 2023 that he would prefer to be in the Senate, where he can rest.
As Governor of Ebonyi State, however, many would describe him as a Chief Executive who was restless to provide infrastructure for his people given the level of projects executed by his administration in that sector. Although he was viewed in some quarters as being intolerant to criticisms, the former Chairman of the South East Governors Forum is perceived especially among his admirers as one of the best-performing governors in the history of the state and the geo-political zone.
Upon his emergence as Senator-Elect, the Ebonyi South Senator commenced moves to run for the number one seat in the Red Chamber but would eventually withdraw after President Bola Tinubu persuaded him to support the ambition of Senator Akpabio. This was especially easy as the Senate Rules didn’t favour his emergence because he is a newbie in parliament.As it has become traditional, being one of the closest to the current Senate President, whom he served as Chairman of the Campaign Council for Akpabio’s Senate Presidency, there is a huge possibility that he will be handed one of the most strategic Standing Committees in the Senate. While it is almost given that Senator Umahi will be one of the loudest voices in support of the majority All Progressives Congress (APC) and its policies in the Senate, many Nigerians will be anxious to see his performance in the area of oversight.
- Senator Abdul’aziz Yari Abubakar (APC, Zamfara West Senatorial District)
Known to be independent-minded and highly controversial, Senator Yari is not a newbie in the federal parliament, having served in the 6th House of Representatives as the member representing Anka/Talata Mafara Federal Constituency.
A two-time governor of Zamfara State and one-time Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), he initially sought a move to the Senate in 2019 and secured victory at the general election. This was, however, shortlived as the Supreme Court nullified along with other candidates of his party across all levels on May 24, 2019, before they could be inaugurated. He thereafter made an unsuccessful run for the National Chairmanship of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in early 2022 before he rejigged his Senatorial bid in 2023, which turned out successful.
The only challenger to Senator Akpabio’s ambition during the election for President of the Senate, Senator Yari garnered as much as 46 votes in a 109-member Senate. While he has expressed a feeling of betrayal by the outcome, close observers of parliament will be out to see how far the former Zamfara governor will go to give expression to his post-election assurance to Senate President. Godswill Akpabio. “I gave the senate president the assurance that we are going to work together as a team to protect the institution that we have,” he told journalists.
Would he be a voice of reason despite being a member of the majority APC or return to his shell in order not to share the spotlight with the current President of the Senate? Would he be compensated with a Principal Officer position in order to keep him close enough and share his ideas to improve service delivery in the Tenth Senate?All eyes will definitely be on Senator Yari.
READ ALSO: “What I told Akpabio on Inauguration day” – Senator Yari reveals
Titus Tartenger Zam (APC, Benue North-West Senatorial District)
Senator Zam emerged as the victor at the 2023 National Assembly elections in a contest he was deemed an underdog. Running against his former principal and the incumbent governor at the time, Samuel Ortom, Zam emerged as Senator.
Although Zam served as Ortom’s Special Adviser on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs between 2015 and 2017, this didn’t deter him from accusing the former governor of doing very little for the people of the Senatorial District during his eight-year leadership of the state. According to the new Senator, Ortom was solely responsible for the sack of over 4,000 local government staff recruited by former governor Gabriel Suswam in 2011.
Having emerged as the preference of his constituents over a governor, attention will definitely be on the Benue lawmaker to see what he has to offer in the Red Chamber. He is quoted to have also said that the election results which produced him signalled an end to the practice of electing unqualified individuals. Hopefully, this background will enable him to take proactive measures to excel as a lawmaker and better the lot of his constituents.
He is also one lawmaker to be on the lookout for.