They are regarded as ‘landlords’ of the National Assembly: They know everything about, and everywhere within the complex by virtue of their long stay at the country’s legislative powerhouse. While the structure belongs to the Federal government, this set of individuals have remained there for close to two decades, earning the nickname ‘landlords’ from their colleagues. Who are they? Daily Trust reports.
By Ismail Mudashir & Musa Abdullahi Krishi
The structure of the National Assembly belongs to the Federal Government, that’s a fact. But this set of people who have remained in the National Assembly for close to two decades have taken ‘ownership’, so to speak. As far as the affairs of the National Assembly are concerned, they must be reckoned with, and their roles cannot be pushed aside. While some of these ‘landlords’ have spent 18 years at the National Assembly, some are in their 14th year. Of them, only one has stayed put in the Senate, and another has done same at the House of Representatives. The duo have been there since 1999, dictating the direction of the lawmaking ‘factory’.
Aside the aforementioned two, there is another set who have moved from the lower to upper chamber. One of those in this category has been at the National Assembly since 1999. They know, inside-out, the two chambers. The last of them are those who have been in the Senate and House of Reps since 2003.
Daily Trust reports that with this set of people, the country’s legislature is being strengthened and the legislative arm is getting ripe to a level whereby lawmakers would spend decades making laws, as obtained in the United States. Top on the list are Senator David Alechenu Bonaventure Mark, Senator Ahmad Lawan and Rep Nicholas Ebomo Mutu. The trio have been at the National Assembly since the return of democracy in 1999. They have played key roles in enactment of many laws.
Senator David Alechenu Bonaventure Mark (PDP, Benue, 1999-date)
Born in 1948, the retired military officer came to the National Assembly in 1999 when the country embraced democracy after many years of military rule to represent the people of Benue South Senatorial District. 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 succeeded Ken Nnamani, was succeeded by the incumbent Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki. He was unable to retain the coveted seat in 2015 following the defeat of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Two years into the life of this Senate, Senator Mark has not contributed to any debate on the floor and he is not a member of any standing committee. He is now a loner, and one of the ‘landlords’ of the National Assembly.
Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan (APC, Yobe, 1999-date)
Lawan (57) also came to the National Assembly in 1999. While Mark was sworn in for the Upper Chamber, Lawan had his for the Lower Chamber. He remained at the House until 2007 when he stepped up to the Senate. The Yobe-born teacher, who has a Doctorate Degree in Remote Sensing was the preferred candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Senate Presidency in 2015 when the Eighth Senate was inaugurated.
In January this year, Lawan became the Senate Leader. His knowledge of the workings of the legislature is superb, according to his colleagues. He on this Monday said he has spent 18 years in the National Assembly.
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. He 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 and hardly grants interviews, but he appears to be in firm grip of his committee, as could be seen during the panel’s sittings with government officials.
Senator Ike Ekweremadu (PDP, Enugu, 2003-date)
A lawyer-turned-politician, Senator Ekweremadu was first sworn in to represent Enugu West Senatorial District in 2003, after chairing Aninri Local Government Area of Enugu State. 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.
Born in 1962, Ekweremadu collaborated with the APC Senators to emerge as the Deputy Senate President when the Eighth Senate was inaugurated in June 2015. He is very familiar with letters of the Constitution and rules of the Senate. He has been a presiding officer for 10 years.
Rep Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos, 2003-date)
Gbaja, as he is popularly called, 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. The Lagos lawmaker, who will soon turn 55, has become an authority of a sorts, as far as lawmaking is concerned.
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 Benue 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, the position he occupied until January 10, this year when he was removed.
However, 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 SUV car and certificate scandal, respectively.
Senator James Manager (PDP, Delta, 2003-date)
Manager (56) was sworn in as a senator in 2003 to represent Delta South and since then he has been at the Senate, chairing various committees. A graduate of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria where he studied law, he currently chairs the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals. He is respected by his colleagues for his grasp of the workings of the Senate. He, of course, is one of the ‘landlords’ as well.
Rep Leo Ogor (PDP, Delta, 2003-date)
Leo Okuweh Ogor, as he presents himself each time he speaks on the floor, 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. Like Gbajabiamila, 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. Though not a lawyer, Ogor competes with the lawyers in the House with the way he understands the lawmaking business.
Senator John Owan Enoh (APC, Cross River, 2003-date)
Born in 1966, Enoh who chairs the Senate Committee on Finance was first sworn in to occupy a seat at the House of Representatives. In 2015, he contested and worn the Cross River Central Senatorial District. He was sworn in on June 9th, 2015.
The lawmaker recently decamped to the APC from the PDP. He is one of the landlords of the National Assembly as he has been there for 14 years. At the House of Representatives, he chaired the Committee of Finance and Appropriation at different times.
Senator Philip Tanimu Aduda (PDP, FCT, 2003-date)
Born in Karu in the Federal Capital Territory, Aduda (47) is the bona fide ‘landlord’ of the National Assembly being the representative of the FCT where the National Assembly is situated.
Fondly called ‘Landlord’ by his colleagues, Aduda was first sworn in at the House in 2003 and he was there until 2011 when he stepped up to the Upper Legislative Chamber. At the inauguration of the Eighth Senate, he was made the minority whip.
Yakubu Barde (PDP, Kaduna, 2003-date)
Barde has been representing Chikun/Kajuru Federal Constituency of Kaduna State since 2003. He is the current Minority Whip of the House. Vocal and outspoken, Barde has been a frequent face on the floor of the House as he hardly misses plenary sittings, except on few occasions.
He has lent his voice to some critical national issues. By virtue of his long stay in the House and the role he played during the last leadership contest in the House, Barde is considered one of the power brokers in the House. Being a graduate of agricultural economics, the Kaduna lawmaker has legislative interest on agriculture, financial crimes and anti-corruption.
Kabiru Marafa Achida (APC, Sokoto, 2003-date)
Achida, who represents Wurno/Rabah Federal Constituency of Sokoto State, is one lawmaker that does not play to the gallery. He first came to the House in 2003 and has been a constant election winner since then.
He has been a member of committees such as appropriations, civil society and donor agencies, information and national orientation, interior, NDDC, public petitions, among others.
Always sitting at the front row alongside other ranking members of the House, Achida, now 55, does not attract much attention to himself, but he is certainly one of the silent power brokers in the House owing to his long stay in the Green Chamber.
Jagaba Adams Jagaba (1999-2003, 2007-date)
Jagaba Adams Jagaba, who chairs the House committee on interior, won election to the House in 1999. After serving his 4-year term, he re-contested election in 2003 but lost. However, he staged a comeback in 2011 and has been in the House since then, cementing his status as one of the ‘landlords’ of the NASS.
A close ally of Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Jagaba is considered one of the strong men of the current House. He is equally outspoken and no-nonsense in nature. A fellow of the Institute of Public Administrators of Nigeria, Jagaba, 57, had chaired the House Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes during the last assembly.