*** Senators voting now for either Lawan or Ndume
*** Open Secret Ballot System being used
By Henry Umoru
ABUJA – THERE is palpable tension and fear as Senators- elect have commenced voting for either the Senate Leader in the 8th, Senator Ahmad Lawan, APC, Yobe North or the former Senate Leader and a strong contender for the position of Senate President for the 9th Senate, Senator Ali Ndume, APC, Borno South.
There is palpable fear in the Hallowed Chamber as the voting commenced, apparently due to the fact that the move to use the open ballot system as being canvassed for by the Senator Lawan led group did not sail through.
The Senators- elect are using the open Secret ballot system where they are given a ballot paper, go to the cubicle to vote secretly for their preferred candidates and then drop it in the ballot box.
The voting commenced at 10 45am soon after the nomination of Lawan and Ndume, starting with Theodore Orji, Abia Central.
The Clerk to the National Assembly, CNA, Mohammed Sani Omolori had called for nomination of candidates at 10.31am.
Thereafter, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, APC, Kebbi North nominated Ahmad Lawal for the position of Senate Presidrnt.
It was seconded by Adeola Solomon Olamilekan, APC, Lagos West.
The CNA asked if there were further nominations and Ali Ndume was nominated by Ishaku Abu, PDP, Adamawa North and seconded by Barinada Npigi, PDP, Rivers South East.
Both Lawan and Ndume addressed the Senators- elect on their plans for the 9th Senate.
At 10.54am, the open secret balloting election commenced
It would be recalled that earlier there was a rowdy session at the hallowed chamber soon after the inauguration of the 9th Senate commenced as the Clerk of National Assembly disclosed that he did not get any Court Order to change the Rules.
The chamber had erupted into a rowdy one soon after the Clerk to the National Assembly, CNA, Mohammed Sani Omolori declared that he did not get the Order from the Court stopping the Senate from using the 2015 Standing Orders as Amended.
According to him, if there was any court order, there was no reason why he will not respect it, stressing that he did not get such.
At exactly 10am, Omolori told the Senators- elect that the Standing Orders which says Secret ballot system would be used for the election of the Presiding Officers.
Immediately after the announcement, the hallowed Chamber was thrown into a confused one, following shouts from Barau Jibrin, others who were against the decision to use that of 2015.
Omolori had to call them to order, telling them that today, no motion shall be moved or taken as the business of the day is only that of inauguration and election of Presiding Officers.
On the question on whether he got the Order, Omolori said No and that he only answered because for Barau Jibrin.
The CNA then asked the Clerk, Senate, Nelson Ayewor to go ahead and take the attendance which is on going at the moment
Earlier, the National Chairman, All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole had arrived the Senate Chamber.
Also the Chairman, Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF and governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi has arrived the National Assembly to observe the inauguration.
Fayemi who arrived the Senate Lobby at 9.35am,was accompanied by his predecessor and the immediate past governor of Zamfara State, Abdul Aziz Yari, the governor of Katsina State, Aminu Masari and other APC governors.
They went straight to the Senate chamber to observe plenary.
Former Senate Presidents, Joseph Wayas and Adolphua Wabara also also at the Chamber.
Wayas came in at 9.54am
Before the governors, Dino Melaye, Kogi West, Enyinnaya Abaribe, Abia South, Francis Alimikhena, Edo North, Bassey Akpan Akwa Ibom, Theodore Orji Abia, Oluremj Tinubu, Lagos Central, James Manager, Delta South, Chimaroke Nnamani, among others had entered.
At 8.45am, Senate Leader in the 8th Senate and contender for the position of Senate President,Senator Ahmad Lawan, Yobe North entered the Chamber.
He was accompanied by his Supporters like Barau Jibrin, Yahaya Abdullahi, among others.
Earlier, ahead of today’s inauguration of the 8th National Assembly and election of Presiding Officers for both the Senate and the House of Representatives,there is very tight Security in and around the National Assembly.
The gates are manned by armed members of the Department of State Security, DSS, Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, Nigerian Civil Defence Corps, the Police, just as the only entrance to the venue is the gate of the Secretary to the government of the Federation, SGF and that of Presidential Villa.
The Security agents are everywhere in the National Assembly and those at the entrance of the Chamber are well over twenty.
Meanwhile, the former Senate Leader and a strong contender for the position of Senate President for the 9th Senate, Senator Ali Ndume, APC, Borno South has arrived the premises.
Ndume who is dressed in his usual white Babaringa, arrived at 7.20 am and went straight to the Mosque under the chamber to pray.
Also immediate past governor of Imo State and governor elect for Imo West, Rochas Okorocha has also arrived and went straight to the office of the Clerk to the National Assembly, CNA, Mohammed Sani Omolori.
Okorocha arrived the Senate Lobby at 7.40am
Also the former governor of Kano State, Senator Kabiru Gaya, APC, South who us aspiring for the position of Deputy Senate President has arrived the Lobby. He arrived 7.45am.
In a related development, wives, Friends, husbands, Associates, relations of Senators- elect have started arriving, they are being ushered into Senate hearing room one.