10th Senate: Tinubu’s men, APC Integrity Group tag Adeola, Musa for leader, DSP
The outline of the impending 10th National Assembly, especially the leadership of the Senate, is gradually emerging. With the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) garnering a simple majority at the upper legislative chamber, the party has begun moves to ensure that it puts round pegs in round holes in the leadership of the Red Chamber.
Although the party is not finding it easy in its search for a consensus candidate for the office of Senate President, the issue of zoning has pitched the Southeast and South/South geopolitical zones in hot contest for the coveted office.
With the low number of Senators-elect from the two geopolitical zones, current Senate Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu and immediate past Minister for Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio, have made themselves available as frontrunners.
Akpabio’s chances brightened when Governor Ben Ayade, who was said to be one of preferred candidates of the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, fell to the Labour Party (LP) Senatorial candidate at the February 25, National Assembly poll.
Also, the inability of former Enugu State governor and representative of Enugu East Senatorial District, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, to win his return bid, has, however, thrown up the former APC National Organising Secretary, Senator Osita Izunaso, for consideration.
This is just as the outgoing governor of Ebonyi State and Senator-elect for Ebonyi South, David Nweze Umahi, has thrown his hat in the ring, despite his status as a non-ranking Senator.
Umahi claims that as a former member of the Anambra State University of Technology Students Senate, and chairmanship of Southeast Governors’ Forum, qualifies him to be the first among equals in the 10th Senate.
However, while the Southeast and South/South continues to contend with zoning, loyalists to the President-elect are said to be considering Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola for the post of Senate Leader, which was occupied by the Northwest in the outgoing 9th Senate.
Adeola, who represents Lagos West in the current ninth Senate, is also Senator-elect Ogun West, ahead of the 10th Senate. He is a staunch ally of Tinubu and is expected to be the rallying point for the incoming administration’s legislative interests.
Although The Guardian could not confirm whether Adeola’s switch to Ogun West Senatorial District was a strategic move to position him for the post of Leader, sources disclosed that the Senator’s attempt to contest the Ogun State governorship against Governor Dapo Abiodun exposed him to recriminations from interested players in Lagos West.
Nonetheless, it could be on account of the consensus mileage covered by the Southwest caucus of the APC Senators-elect that the APC Integrity Group announced Senator Sani Musa as the tentative consensus choice for Deputy President of Senate.
By the time the APC Integrity Group was making its position known, the name of Saliu Mustapha, the Senator-elect for Kwara Central, was making the rounds as a possible compromise candidate as a mark of compensation for his botched chairmanship aspiration.
Speaking about the anticipated battle for the plenary officers and need for smooth sale of executive bills, Mustapha said the issue of zoning of offices will not pose serious difficulties.
He stated: “Every party has its own strategy and those are internal strategies of every party. So, it would be wrong for me to sit here and tell you, so so so positions are for so so and so zone. No, but there is always a natural pattern that if A goes to South, B comes to north, C goes to west, D goes elsewhere to give a sense of belonging to all. So, these are natural things that will take its own natural effect.
“It would be premature for me now to start telling you, this is how or this is who will get what. Let us cross that bridge first, it will take a natural course on its own.”
The Senator-elect said the most important thing is, “let’s be fair to each other. Two, let’s give everybody a sense of belonging. Three, let’s make sure we guarantee the security of lives and properties, that anywhere you find yourself, you are comfortable, you are happy to live and to contribute to that environment.”
Mustapha, who is also the Turaki Ilorin, declared that despite the seeming disagreements in the country, Nigeria still has great hope for a great future. “This country has hope. I am very patriotic about it and that is why I would be saying we thank the almighty Allah, who has kept us till now. Our prayer is that may He continue to guide our leaders with wisdom to propel and lead us to the right destination.”
But, making their choice public recently in Abuja, the leadership of APC Integrity Group said they began a series of consultations aimed at shortlisting candidates for the 10th plenary to avoid a replay of the acrimonious selection of floor functionaries that jolted the 8th NASS.
The National Coordinator, Mallam Dawu Mohammed, and Secretary, Chisom Nwakanma, who interacted with journalists, said the APC Integrity Group marshalled out some criterions to guide the selection of the leaders of the two chambers of the National Assembly, particularly the President of Senate, who is expected to chair the 10th NASS.
Mohammed disclosed that the APC Integrity Group comprises members of the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
They listed party loyalty and robust knowledge of legislative business as key considerations, noting that it has reached out to the APC leadership, including the Board of Trustees, national chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, and the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party on the imperatives of focusing on party loyalty, legislative ingenuity and smart leadership qualities.
The National Coordinator stated: “We are looking forward to a harmonious working relationship between the Executive and the Legislature. As such the prospective Deputy Senate President and Deputy Chairman of National Assembly should be one that can work with the Senate President (SP), to carry all 109 Senators along,” the group stated.
Reading from a prepared script, the National Coordinator disclosed that from consultations with party leaders and APC Senators-elect, the name of Senator Sani Musa was pencilled as possible consensus choice.
“Ranking is vital, as such within the outgoing Ninth Assembly, a list of well qualified lawmakers was drawn and from that list Senator Mohammed Sani Musa, was noted for his outstanding qualities, especially level-headedness.
“We believe that although having won the presidential election and secured the majority at both the Senate and House of Representatives, it is only when we get it right with the right leadership at the 10th Assembly that we can sustain the momentum we have been able to create across the nation.
“We, therefore, urge our great party to consider retaining its leading voice at the Senate by taking into mind, the services and efforts made by some great party leaders and stakeholders, especially in the North Central Zone.
“Senator Musa’s expertise in using legislative machinery to solve national issues such as electoral matters, was demonstrated in his proposal that birthed the use of card reader by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in previous elections,” he stated.
The group noted that emphasis on North Central geopolitical became crucial due to the emergence of President-elect and Vice President-elect from South and North, adding that loyalty and contributions to the party favours the zone.
“Consequently, within the geopolitical zone, no other ranking Senator best fits the description than Senator Musa, who has sponsored a total of 26 bills, of the 21 per cent total legislation sponsored by North Central Senators in the Ninth Assembly.
“Further, with the antecedents of Senator Musa and current trends, where fresh, young, and outspoken politicians are coming on board from the opposition parties, especially the PDP and LP, a Senator Musa as Deputy Senate President would be of immense benefit to our party at the National Assembly level,” the group asserted.”
He expressed belief that the ruling party would get it right in throwing an equally brilliant and patriotic Senator to serve as Senate President, assuring that with their efforts the damage done to the nation by the rancorous relationship between the executive and the 8th Assembly would not be allowed to repeat itself.