Nigeria’s legislature did not enjoy a smooth sail until the beginning of the Fourth Republic in 1999, but it is considered the foremost of the three arms of government.
Section four of the constitution describes the legislature as the highest law making body with powers to make laws on behalf of the country. Other powers include confirmation of ministers and heads of agencies, investigation or call for investigation into any matter.
The bicameral National Assembly, comprising the Senate and House of Representatives, is headed by the senate president and speaker.
This analysis seeks to profile Nigeria’s parliamentary leaders since independence.
Nigeria has produced 14 senate presidents since independence in 1960.
Legislative bodies in the federal and state levels were disbanded each time the military took over power between 1966 and 1999.
PREMIUM TIMES’ checks show that of the 14 senate presidents, five of them are dead.
1. Nnamdi Azikiwe
His tenure as president of the Senate was short and lasted between 1959 and 1960. This is because he was appointed Governor General after Nigeria became independent in October of the same year.
Prior to that, Mr Azikiwe, as a leader of the the defunct National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), held several public offices ranging from the Nigerian Legislative Council (1947-1951), member of the Western House of Assembly (1952-1953) and premier of the Eastern Region (1954-1959).
When Nigeria became a republic on October 1, 1963, Mr Azikiwe was named the first president, a position he held until he was deposed by the military coup of January 15, 1966.
He died on May 11, 1996 at the University of Enugu Teaching Hospital after a long illness.
2. Dennis Osadebey
Mr Osadebey served as senate president after Mr Azikiwe between 1966 and 1963. Like Mr Azikiwe, he was a member of the NCNC.
He later became the pioneer premier of the Mid-Western region after its creation in 1963. Prior to that, he was the leader of the opposition in the Western House of Assembly and an active voice in the clamour for independence
He died in December 1994 at the age of 84.
3. Nwafor Orizu
Nwafor Orizu was president of the Senate from November 1963 to January 1966, also under the platform of the NCNC.
He served as acting president in October 1965 after the then president, Nnamdi Azikiwe, embarked on a prolonged vacation from which he did not return until the military made its first incursion into government in Nigeria on January 15, 1966.
Mr Nwafor held the position until that military coup.
After the coup, he became less active in the political scene and more active in education. He died in 1999. The Nwafor Orizu College of Education in Anambra State is named after him.
4. Joseph Wayas
He served in the Second Republic between 1979 and 1983 when Nigeria moved from the parliamentary to the presidential system of government after the military handed over power.
He was elected to the Senate from Cross River State under the platform of the National Party of Nigeria.
Mr Wayas vacated office along with other members of the Shagari-led administration after the military coup on New Year’s Eve 1983 that brought Muhammadu Buhari, then a Major General, to power as head of state .
Still alive, Mr Wayas has not been active on the political scene.
5. Iyorchia Ayu
He was elected senate president in the short-lived Third Republic under the Social Democratic Party. He served from 1992 until he was impeached in 1993.
The legislature in this period under the prolonged transition programme of the Ibrahim Babangida junta, was only 23 months old when it was disbanded by Sani Abacha.
He was thereafter appointed a minister of education in 1993 under the Abacha-led regime.
He also served as minister of industry, internal affairs and environment under the Obasanjo-led administration between 1999 and 2003.
Although not so active in politics, he has however, remained vocal.
6. Ameh Ebute
Ameh Ebute was president of the Senate in 1993 towards the end of the Third Republic.
He had threatened to reconvene the National Assembly after it was disbanded by Mr Abacha and was charged for conspiracy in 2004. He was detained for six weeks.
He is currently a member of the National Caucus and Board of Trustees of the ruling All Progressives Congress.
7. Evan Enwerem
At the start of the Fourth Republic in May 1999, Mr Enwerem emerged president of the Senate after its inauguration in June of the same year.
He was however, removed after six months following an allegation of abuse of office but remained a senator until 2003.
He died in August 2007 after a brief illness.
8. Chuba Okadigbo
Chuba Okadigbo succeeded Evan Enwerem in 1999 and like his predecessor, was removed in August 2000 after he was charged of corruption from contract awards in the Senate.
He died in Abuja on September 25, 2005, a day after campaigning in Kano.
9. Anyim Pius Anyim
After Mr Okadigbo’s removal, Anyim Pius Anyim emerged president of the Senate under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a position he held until 2003.
In 2011, he was appointed Secretary General to the Federation by former President Goodluck Jonathan. He was alleged to have mishandled the government’s secretariat and was arrested by the anti-graft agency, EFCC, shortly after he left office as SGF.
He was questioned for his role in the alleged mismanagement of the ecological fund while in office as SGF, among other matters.
Not much has been heard about him again.
10. Adolphus Wabara
Hw was the first president of the fifth Assembly of the Senate but his tenure lasted only from 2003 to 2005. Mr Wabara, from Abia State, was forced to resign in April 2005 over his alleged involvement in a bribery scandal with former education minister, Fabian Osuji.
He was later cleared of the allegation in March 2019 after a 14-year long battle in court. Not much has been heard of him.
11. Ken Nnamani
Ken Nnamani, from Enugu State, took over from Mr Wabara and held the position till the end of the session in 2007.
Under his tenure, the National Assembly remarkably killed the Third Term agenda of former president Olusegun Obasanjo when it threw out a bill to amend the constitution to remove the two-term limit for the president and state governors.
In December 2019, there were speculations that he had plans to defect to the Peoples Democratic Party from the APC but the latter in a statement, debunked the rumour.
Mr Nnamani has been somewhat quiet over the years.
12. David Mark
The longest serving presiding officer at the National Assembly, David Mark from Benue State, assumed the office of the senate president after the inauguration of the sixth assembly in June 2007. He retained the position in the seventh assembly till 2011.
He is known for his ardent support of the bill prohibiting same sex marriage in Nigeria.
In 2018, he ran for nomination as president under the PDP but was unsuccessful.
Mr Mark has since been off the radar.
13. Bukola Saraki
Bukola Saraki assumed office in June 2015 at the eight assembly under the platform of the APC.
His emergence was dramatic as it was against the wish of the party which had selected Ahmad Lawan for the position. For the first time, the senate president and his deputy belonged to different parties as his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, was of the PDP.
Mr Saraki defected to the PDP in 2018 in the build-up of the 2019 general elections. He, however, lost his bid for reelection to the senate from his Kwara Central district.
Mr Saraki was arraigned on a 13-count perjury charge at the Code of Conduct shortly after he assumed office. The Supreme Court cleared him of the allegations three years after.
He ran in the PDP 2019 presidential primaries but lost to Atiku Abubakar.
He has maintained a low profile but is still an active member of the PDP.
14. Ahmad Lawan
Although he has been a senator since 2007, he was elected president of the upper chamber in June 2019 under the APC, beating Ali Ndume of the same party.
He was nominated by the APC for the position in 2015 but lost when Mr Saraki was returned unopposed in a controversial process.
He is currently the senate president, an active member of the party and a loyalist of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Speakers of the House
Jaja Wachuku is the first indigenous speaker of the House of Representatives from 1959 to 1960. He served under the NCNC.
He died at the age of 78 at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu in 1996.
Ibrahim Jalo Waziri was elected speaker of the House in 1960.
He served in that capacity until the January 1966 military coup. He was the Wazrin Gombe until his death in 1987.
Edwin Ume-Ezeoke was the first speaker under the presidential system of government in the Second Republic. Mr Ume-Ezeoke ruled under the platform of the Nigerian Peoples Party from 1979 to 1983, a beneficiary of an accord between his party and the National Party of Nigeria.
He died in 2011.
Chacha Biam served briefly as speaker in 1983 under the NPN. His tenure lasted only three months before the Second Republic was sacked in the 1983 coup.
Agunwa Anaekwe from Anambra State, emerged speaker of the House in the third republic – a position he held between 19932 and November 1993.
His tenure was abrupted when General Abacha brought down democratic structures, despite campaigns by anti-democratic agents to oust him.
In 2016, he was named chairman of the Screening Appeal Committee for the 2016 Ondo State governorship election primaries for the APC.
He has managed to maintained a low profile over the years.
Salisu Buhari from Kano State was the first speaker of the House in the Fourth Republic between June and July 1999. He resigned over the certificate falsification scandal. He however apologised and has held several public offices since then.
In 2017, the then Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, inaugurated the board of the Nigerian Industrial Policy and Competitiveness Advisory Council of which Salisu Buhari was a member.
He had been off the radar until then.
*Ghali Na’Abba, also from Kano State, replaced Mr Buhari. He survived several impeachment plots to keep the position till 2003 but was denied renomination by the PDP for the general election of that year.
Debunking rumours of his death in May, Mr Na’Abba said he was” stuck in London.”
Aminu Masari from Katsina State, emerged speaker of the House in the fifth assembly and held the position from 2003 to 2007. He is said to have brought maturity to the leadership of the House.
In 2015, he was elected governor of Katsina State and was reelected in March 2019.
Patricia Etteh, the first and only female lawmaker elected speaker of the House, was a member of the PDP and became House speaker in 2007.
But barely five months later, she lost the position following a scandal over the award of a N628 million contract for the upgrade of her official residence and that of her deputy, Babangida Nguroje.
Not much has been heard about her.
Dimeji Bankole from Ogun State replaced Ms Etteh also under the PDP and held the position from 2007 to 2011. He is remembered for suspending some members of the parliament indefinitely for fighting in the chamber.
He contested for the governorship position in Ogun State in 2019 and lost to Dapo Abiodun.
Not much has been heard of him since then.
Aminu Tambuwal succeeded Mr Bankole in 2011 under the PDP, serving as the tenth speaker of the House – a position he held till 2015.
He became governor of Sokoto State in 2015 after he defected to APC in 2014. Mr Tambuwal returned to PDP and ran in the PDP presidential primary for the 1999 election but lost and proceeded to seek re-election as governor in his state in 2019, which he won.
He is currently governor of the state and a chieftain of the PDP.
Yakubu Dogara, from Bauchi State, emerged speaker in June 2015 under the platform of the APC. His emergence was against the plan of the party. He, like Mr Saraki and many others, defected to the PDP in 2018.
Although he was re-elected for a second term in 2019, he lost his seat as speaker.
Mr Dogara recently rejoined the APC, citing breakdown of governance in his home state of Bauchi that had in 2019 elected a PDP governor.
Femi Gbajabiamila, in a somewhat smooth transition, emerged speaker of the House in June 2019 under the APC. He, like Mr Lawan, was the party’s preferred candidate.
The 59-year old is one of the longest serving lawmakers in the National Assembly. An active member of the APC, he is a loyalist of the president.
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