Senate Presidency: Intrigues as zoning crisis hits APC
• 55 APC Senators-elect may lose seats to minorities
Barely 60 days to the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly, there is no solution in sight to the current imbroglio that has hit the caucus of the 55 All Progressives Congress (APC) Senators-elect in the parliament.
Some key APC leaders within and outside the National Assembly have expressed the fear that the development, if not checked, might result in the emergence of a Senate President from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-dominated minority caucus.
The issue of fair zoning arrangement acceptable to all contending forces is a huge challenge, which has created the first major test to the incoming APC-led administration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
While many contenders argue that zoning be adopted to check concentration of power in a particular zone to the detriment of others, others have expressed the views that key issues like high votes-producing consideration; ethnic/regional balancing; merit, character and competence, cannot be traded for any zoning arrangement.
So far, no fewer than 11 Senators-elect are in the race for the nation’s number three position.
They are Senators Ali Ndume (Borno South), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Orji Uzoh Kalu (Abia), Jibrin Barau (Kano), Mohammed Sani Musa (Niger), Osita Izunaso, Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara), Aliu Wammako (Sokoto), among others.
A very difficult condition being placed on the zoning arrangement is one which dictates that the zone that gave the APC the highest number of votes in the last presidential election be allowed to produce the Senate president.
This argument favours Senators-elect from the North West Geopolitical Zone, including Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Jigawa and Zamfara states.
A serving lawmaker, who is one of the proponents of this idea, said: “This has been the tradition in the past, where the region that gives the ruling party its highest votes is most favoured for such positions.”
He recalled that during the Obasanjo era, it was easy to zone the Senate Presidency seat to the South East because the region voted overwhelmingly for the PDP government and in the Umaru Yar’Adua -Goodluck
Those jostling for Senate Presidency from the North West are the incumbent Chairman of Senate Committee on Appropriation, Barau Jibrin, Aliu Wammako from Sokoto.
Proponents of South East Senate Presidency are the current Senate Chief Whip, Orji Kalu, and governor Umahi, Izunaso.
Kalu continues to argue that zoning the Senate presidency to the South East will be in the best interest of peace and national unity.
Kalu said if the position is zoned to the South East by the APC leadership, it would stimulate peace in the country.
Kalu, one-time governor of Abia State, argued that though the zone might not have voted for Tinubu, at the presidential election, his emergence as Senate President would bring peace and honour to the country.
After meeting President Muhammadu Buhari in the villa, Izunaso is of the view that zoning the position to the South East is only fair.
He added that he was optimistic about clinching the position because of his experience as a legislator.
Umahi, on the other hand, is not only seeking that the position be zoned to the South East, he believes that he is the best material for the job.
And having discovered the Senate’s standing rules, particularly on ranking doesn’t give him a chance, the Ebonyi State governor is making feverish efforts and putting pressure on the Ahmad Lawan’s leadership of the current Senate to effect an urgent amendment.
“Miracle is when God sets aside rules and breaks protocols. I’m asking the APC leadership, the National Assembly leadership to set aside the rules so that we can get the best for the leadership of the national assembly,” he said.
“If the APC family zones the Senate presidency to the South East, I am indicating interest on the platform that I have been in public service for the past 16 years, so you can rightly say that I understand administration and when you have administered a state, which is more complex more than any other position other than that of the Presidency.
“I want to put myself forward and I plead with the National Assembly to amend the rules. We should be looking for the best. Anyone elected into the National Assembly is the best, but let God be allowed to choose. We need to elect a leadership that will rebuild the nation,” he had declared.