Senate President Ahmed Lawan has promised to lead as a servant and be fair to all.
In his maiden address after polling 79 votes to beat his only challenger, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, who garnered 28 votes, Lawan said political, ethnic and religious considerations would have no place under his watch.
Ndume, who explained that he contested against Lawan to deepen democracy, promised to join hands with the Senate President.
Lawan (Yobe North Senatorial District), who was the Majority Leader in the Eighth Senate, pledged to ensure that the upper legislative chamber perform its role for the benefit of all Nigerians.
He said: “Elections are over. It shows that we voted for a unite Senate and it is clear that the outcome is bipartisan. All parties, including the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Young Progressives Party (YPP), voted for me and with this outcome the Ninth Senate is ready to take off as a united Senate.
“Today means so many things. It is the commencement of another decade of our democracy and we will work to ensure best global parliamentary practice, among other things.”
Promising to work toward ensuring a secure and a prosperous future for all Nigerians, Lawan said the Senate would be responsive to the needs of the masses who, he said, are the owners of the mandate.
Urging his colleagues to work collectively to ensure a robust Senate, Lawan charged them not to settle for anything less than the best, adding: “We will dream big, aim high and take good initiatives.”
Lawan promised improved Information Communication Technology (ICT) as one of the focal points of the Senate, which will collaborate with the executive to tackle banditry, cattle rustling, kidnapping and other crimes.
“We will work with the executive for sustained pursuit of national ethical renewal,” he said, adding that youth unemployment, suicide, depression, corruption and insecurity would be frontally tackled.
Bemoaning the estimated 14 million out-of-school children across the nation, Lawan said the Senate would work toward finding lasting solutions to the growing menace, which he described as “embarrassing”.
He allayed fears and insinuations in some quarters that the Senate under him would be subservient to the executive.
“The Senate will be independent while working with the executive. We will choose unity of purpose instead of conflict,” he said.
Lawan promised to strengthen the relationship between the legislature and other key stakeholders, including the media as well as civil society organisations, adding: “We must drive a transformative Senate dedicated to serving the people with confidence, courage and patriotism. In doing so, we are convinced that our past was only a story told while our future can yet be written in gold.”
Ndume pledged to work with the Senate’s new leadership under Lawan and his deputy, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.
Speaking immediately after losing the election, the Borno South senator promised to cooperate with Lawan in the interest of the country.
Describing Lawan as a well-experienced lawmaker who joined the National Assembly four years ahead of him, Ndume explained that he happily went into the election in line with democratic norms.
Ndume was optimistic that the All Progressives Congress (APC) would not see his action as a rebellion but as an act to deepen democracy.
According to him, his action made the election credible.
Ndume said: “Ahmed Lawan is my brother who is well- experienced, having been here four years ahead of me. I will give him all the necessary support. I insisted on contesting against him in order to deepen democracy.
“I hope the party would agree with me that what I did was in the interest of democracy and I do know that power belongs to God. It’s God’s will that my colleague becomes the President. I will do all I can with others for him to succeed because his success is our success.”