Barely five months after assuming office as President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has consolidated his grip on both chambers of the National Assembly.
Beside the four key positions of presiding officers in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, President Tinubu’s men have also taken a firm control of sensitive committees in both chambers.
President Tinubu, upon taking office on May 29, 2023, had endorsed Senator Godswill Akpabio to emerge as President of the Senate and Tajudeen Abass as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Though there were dissenting voices, Tinubu insisted on the duo while many of his loyalists campaigned vigorously for them. Despite a keen contest, especially for the position of the President of the Senate, Akpabio had triumphed.
Again, following the emergence of Akpabio, Abbas and others as presiding officers, Tinubu also played a key role in the choice of principal officers of the 10th National Assembly.
In the Senate, the caucus of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) had settled for Mohammed Ali Ndume as Leader. But a last-minute intervention by Tinubu altered the calculations.
In place of Ndume, Bamidele Opeyemi from Ekiti State was named as Senate Majority Leader, while Julius Ihonvbere was named Majority Leader in the House of Representatives.
Though the leadership of APC rejected the action, the Presidency refused to shift grounds.
Saturday Sun gathered that leaders of the Senate had agreed that in order to avoid any distractions for the president, those seen as loyal to President Tinubu will be appointed chairmen of sensitive committees.
A senator who attended some of the meetings prior to the naming of chairmen of committees told Saturday Sun that the decision was taken to prevent any act of rebellion against President Tinubu.
He listed Appropriation, Finance, Banking, Debt Management, Security and Foreign Affairs as key committees to be headed by Tinubu’s key loyalists in the Senate.
The source further added that over 80 per cent of those named as heads of the above-listed committees were from the South West or Yoruba from North Central states.
According to him, loan requests, constitution amendment proposals and some other requests are expected to be sent to the Senate in the coming years by President Tinubu.
To avoid any opposition, he said the leaders of the Senate were deliberate in their choice of committee chairmen and principal officers of the upper legislative chamber. He said: “During the week, the Senate replaced David Umahi as Deputy Senate Leader with a Yoruba man from Kwara State. That was when Oyelola Yisa Ashiru representing Kwara South emerged. “APC has over seven senators from the South East and three of them are ranking. They left those people and picked another Yoruba man to take that position.
“The Assembly has been captured by President Tinubu. Akpabio, Abbas and even chairmen of some important standing committees are loyal to Aso Rock. “Even those who have any intentions of opposing Tinubu in the Senate will not be given the chance. Tinubu is a tactician and he has displayed that already.
“There are some requests coming to the National Assembly soon. There will be loan requests foreign policy, confirmation of nominees, budget, and more importantly, the constitution amendment. With the right people already placed to head key committees, it will be a walk over.” President Tinubu is expected to submit the 2024 national budget to a joint session of the National Assembly next month. Prior to the presentation, he is equally expected to send loan requests for approval to the National Assembly.
Similarly, the Constitution Amendment exercise will commence next year, where the Executive, headed by President Tinubu is expected to play a key role.