Race For National Assembly Leadership Hots Up
• North West Senators Tip Yerima For Senate Majority Leader, South West Colleagues Kick
The race to for top leadership positions in the Eight Senate to be inaugurated June 4, recorded a twist Weekend with the emergence of former Zamfara State governor, Ahmed Sani Yerima, as the likely next Senate Majority Leader.
He was considered for the position at a caucus meeting of North West Senators in Abuja, Friday night . The Senators had endorsed Senator Ahmed Lawan for Senate President last Thursday.
With a total of 21 Senators, the North West has the advantage over the South West zone, the only cotender for the senate Majority leadership position. The South West zone has 18 senators, 13 of which are from the All Progressives Congress (AP[C) and five from the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP).
At the meeting of the North West caucus at the wee hours of Friday, Senators were said to have argued in favour of having the most ranking among them to become the Senate Majority leader in strict compliance with Senate ranking rule. Members of the caucus were also said to have resolved to reach out to Senators and Senators-Elect from other zones for support. Yerima was first elected into the Senate in 2007 and had before now remained a principal officer.
During his first term, he was elected Minority Whip and in 2011, became the Deputy Minority Leader. The Senate Majority leader plays key roles in the workings of the Upper Legislative Chamber.
Section 28 of the senate standing rule simply made the Senate Majority Leader the manager of Senate businesses.
“There shall be a Majority leader of the Senate who shall be a Senator nominated from the party with the highest number of Senators. His functions shall be: To lead the business of the Senate; manage the Legislative schedule of the Senate and liaise with Committee Chairmen and other functionaries of the Senate.”
The new arrangement may have put to rest the crises generated by power struggle among the senators elect, as the APC leadership has decided to zone the Senate Presidency to the North East and that of the deputy to the North Central.
However, the South west Senators that are also eyeing the next Senate Leadership positions continued lobby quietly the various stakeholders.
The inability of the APC to produce ranking senator from the South East and South South zones has restricted the election of persons to position of leadership in the next senate to only four zones of North West, North East, North Central and South west.
The fact that the south west had produced the Vice President and has been positioned to take the position of the House of Representatives’ Speaker has been a major threat to its quest to getting another key position.
Baring any last minute change in the arrangement, the North West would take the position of Senate Majority Leader, in addition to the position of the President ,while the South West would take the position of Speaker of House of Representatives’, in addition to the position of Vice President.
The North East and North Central would take the positions of the Senate President and Deputy President respectively. The Senate Majority Leader, became a powerful position in the Nigerian legislature during the second Republic.
It was brought to prominence by the former Senate Leader, late Abubakar Olusola Saraki. In a newspaper interview few years ago, the late Saraki gave an insight into how the defunct National Party of Party (NPN), was able to work and have a harmonious relationship with the legislature.
He said the party leaders and leaders in the parliament would meet, ponder over party positions and then, agreed on what should be the party position.
According to him, whatever was agreed at that level was what would happen on the floor of the Senate the following day; hence the harmonious relationship between the party and the legislature. But the game changed with the advent of the Fourth Republic in 1999.
However, there is no doubt that the position of Senate Majority Leader is still very important, because whoever occupies the office serves as a link between his colleagues in the legislature and the executive arm of government.