…With voting in the general election over, scheming for who emerges Senate President takes centre stage
With the wrapping up of voting at the federal and state elections, all eyes will be on the composition of the National Assembly. And as focus moves to the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly, some Senators have already indicated interest in vying for the seat of Senate President.
Among them are Senator Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia State and Senator Barau Ibrahim Jibrin of Kano State. It was also learnt that incumbent Senate president, Ahmad Lawan of Yobe State; Adams Oshiomhole of Edo, Abdul-Aziz Yari of Zamfara; and Dave Umahi of Ebonyi, had started subtle campaigns among their colleagues.
But the process by which the next senate president will emerge remains hazy. Would the process be driven by the party leadership? Would the president-elect, Bola Tinubu, with a close-knit cycle of allies choose who he feels comfortable working with? Would the lawmakers decide their own leaders regardless of external influence?
While these proclivities are likely to clash as the process intensifies, pundits are mindful of how issues of equity and justice as escounced in zoning fits into the quest for a vibrant, experienced and competent-led legislature considering the issues facing the country.
Besides the need for making laws that would help shape the country’s democratic growth, the 10th National Assembly – considering that the federal legislature is the heart of financial approvals – will be coming at a time Nigeria faces enormous debt burden.
According to Mr. Chika Onwuka, a political analyst who spoke to our Correspondent, “it will be entirely against the spirit of equity, justice and fairplay if the All Progressive Congress failed to settle the North-West with the number three position —that is the Senate Presidency. More so as a look at the number of Senators who have so far indicated interest one will clearly show that Senator Barau Jibrin is the one that has the highest ranking and most qualified,as he is going to be a fourth termer in the National Assembly. The next to him is Orji Kalu who will be a third termer; one term in the House of Representatives and two terms in Senate. While Senator God’s will Akpabio is going to be a second term Senator.
“Having said that, you can also agree with me that the APC is a party built on the pillars of equity and justice. Now, we have the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu from the South. The Vice President-elect, Shettima from the North-East, Borno to be precise. We all know the strategic position of the North-West, nay, Kano, in Nigeria’s political landscape. So, it is only fair and wise that the APC leadership supports a Senate Presidency candidate from that region for the sake of equity and justice. Again, the performance, vibrancy, intelligence and political sagacity of Senator Barau Jubrin cannot be overemphasized. He is a detribalized Nigerian, inbuilt with the needed experience and leadership qualities to take the Senate to greater heights, and, indeed, give Nigerians the kind of leadership we deserve.”
The leadership reports that just recently, Senator Jibrin hosted over 70 senators-elect, in an effort to allow Senators elect to create the needed bond amongst themselves ahead of the inauguration of the 10th parliament that will usher the new leadership of the upper chamber. Senator Jubrin has also deployed his foot soldiers to meet key stakeholders, including high ranking federal lawmakers. The over 70 senators-elect who attended the luncheon held at a hotel in Abuja, recently, cut across different political parties.
In his home state, Kano, the spirit is already high, as people from different walks of life and political affiliations have started drumming support for him. According to a veteran journalist cum Public Affairs analyst, Malam Adamu Abubakar, “Senator Barau Ibrahim Jubrin is qualified to be the incoming Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
urther stated that: “I thank Almighty Allah for keeping me alive to see how an intelligent and courageous Kano state indigene becomes the Senate President. Nigerians will believe me that Senator Barau jubrin is capable of handling the number three seat of the country’s leadership, based on his experience in the National Assembly. Before he was elected as a Senator representing Kano North Senatorial District, he served as a member of the House of Representatives representing Tarauni Federal Constituency. He was the Chairman House of Representatives committee on Appropriations. He is also currently the chairman senate committee on Appropriations, making him the first Legislator in Nigeria history to have served at different times as Chairman House of Representatives committee on appropriations and the Senate committee on Appropriations. This is indeed a great feat by a fantastic lawmaker.”
But other contenders are not relenting, Senator Orji believes he has the advantage of legislative experience having served as chief whip in 9th Senate. He also hopes that the agitation for zoning the seat to the South East will favor him.
While Oshiomhole and Umahi are first timers to the Senate which puts them in an awkward situation so far, Akpabio and Yari, have had federal legislative experience. Akpabio emerged Senate minority leader as a first timer in the upper legislative chamber on the platform of his former party PDP. But whether he can pull off emerging Senate president this time around in the APC platform will be interesting to see.
Yari served in the House of Representatives in 2007 which gives him an edge compared to Umahi and Oshiomhole.
Although expectations are high that the party leadership may zone the office of the number three citizen, the APC national chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, himself a veteran senator, has recently dismissed reports of any zoning arrangements so far. For what it’s worth, the composition of the emerging Senate cannot be dismissed in light of how the opposition parties might determine the leadership of the upper chamber.
From the list of winners, APC has won 54 seats so far, while the Peoples Democratic Party has 27 seats.Others are Labour Party with six seats, New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) two seats, Social Democratic Party (SDP) two seats, while the Young Progressives Party (YPP) and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) have one seat each.
Aspiring Senate presidents would seek to secure the support of none APC lawmakers. Perhaps this is where the more experienced lawmakers would have an edge.