Jostle For Senate Presidency Gathers Momentum
• Senate Loses Experienced, Competent Legislators To Political Manoeuvres
BARELY a few days after the Presidential and National Assembly Elections, political intrigues that usually characterise campaigns for National Assembly leadership positions have emerged.
The All Progressives Congress (APC), which won the Presidential Election and would form the Federal Government in May, has produced a total number of 64 senators to represent it in the 8th Senate. This clearly puts the APC in the majority in the Upper Chamber, against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which could only produce 45 senators.
As things stand, the APC would produce the leadership of the Senate. With this reality, senators from the emerging governing party have begun intense lobbying, within and outside the party, for the nation’s number three office.
Three geo-political zones have reportedly been targeted by the APC leadership as possible areas where the Senate President could come from. They are: North Central, North East and South West. Only 33 of the 109 (30 per cent) senators who served in the 7th Senate were re-elected to serve in the 8th. The Upper Chamber will have a total of 76 people as new senators.
This development favoured returning Senators, as the Standing Rule had reserved leadership positions for returning and high-ranking senators. The Rule dealing with the election of Principal Officers reads: “Nomination of senators to serve as Presiding Officers and appointment of Principal Officers and other officers of the Senate or any parliamentary delegations shall be in accordance with the ranking of senators.
In determining ranking, the following order shall apply – senators returning based on number of times re-elected; Senators who had been members of the House of Representatives; senators elected for the first time.”
With the PDP senators now in the minority, they may not have a chance in the contest. Six senators are returning from North Central under the APC umbrella: they are George Akume and Barnabas Gemade from Benue State.
From Kwara State, we have Bukola Saraki and Mohammed Shaaba Lafiagi, while Abdullahi Adamu and Joshua Dariye were re-elected from Nasarawa and Plateau States, respectively. Philip Aduda has been re-elected from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Those returning to the Senate from the North East under the umbrella of the APC include Ahmed Zanna and Ali Ndume from Borno, while Danjuma Goje was re-elected from Gombe.
Bukar Abba Ibrahim and Ahmed Lawan were re-elected. Re-elected senators from the South West are Oluremi Tinubu and Gbenga Ashafa from Lagos; Robert Ajayi Boroffice (Ondo). Babajide Omoworare and Sola Adeyeye were re-elected from Osun.
For now, senators in the race for the number three position are Saraki, Goje, Lawan and Akume. Saraki, a former Kwara State governor who was first elected into the Senate in 2011, is believed to be the “kingmaker” of the state. He is the incumbent chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment.
He was the leader of all those who defected from PDP to the APC early last year. He withdrew his intention to contest the just concluded Presidential poll under the APC and so did not participate in the primary election.
The current Senate Minority Leader, George Akume, a former Benue State governor, who was first elected to the Senate in 2007, is yet another senator aspiring to replace David Mark. Akume had in 2007 contested against Mark for the same position but lost. Another aspirant, Senator Ahmed Lawan, re-elected from Yobe State, has been in the Senate since 2003.
He has been the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts. Danjuma Goje, a former Gombe State governor, first aspired to be Senate President in 2011 when he was freshly elected to the Senate, but was shut out by the Senate Rule.
Also in the calculations for the Senate Presidency is the South West zone. But this is contentious, as the zone has already got the position of Vice President. No fewer than 76 of the current 109 members in the Senate crashed out of the Upper Chamber as a result of losses in the polls, and quests for executive positions.
In the South West, for instance, only five of the 18 senators from the zone are returning. They are: Gbenga Ashafa and Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos); Robert Boroffice (Ondo); and Babajide Omoworare and Olusola Adeyeye (Osun).
The Tsunami also affected the South East zone as only six of the 18 senators from the zone, like Eyinnaya Abaribe (Abia); Andy Uba (Anambra); Soni Ogbuoji (Ebonyi); Ike Ekweremadu and Gilbert Nnaji (Enugu); and Hope Uzodinma (Imo), made the list.
In the South South, only Emmanuel Paulker (Bayelsa); George Sekibo (Rivers) and; James Manager (Delta) would return to the Senate. In the North Central, Bukola Saraki and Shaaba Lafiaji (Kwara); David Mark, George Akume and Barnabas Gemade (Benue); Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa ) and Joshua Dariye (Plateau) won the poll and returned.
In the North East: Ahmed Zannah (Borno); Danjuma Goje and Joshua Lidani (Gombe); Emmanuel Bwacha (Taraba); Bukhar Ibrahim and Ahmad Lawan (Yobe); and Kabiru Marafa and Ahmad Sani (Zamfara) were returned by their constituents.
Those who made it in the North West are: Kabiru Gaya (Kano); and Ibrahim Abu (Katsina). The 8th Senate would be made up of 64 All Progressives Congress senators and 45 Peoples Democratic Party members.
The breakdown of the 60 seats won in the Senate by APC shows that the party cleared 20 of the available 21 positions in the North West comprising Sokoto, Kano, Jigawa, Zamfara, Kebbi, Kaduna and Katsina states.
It clinched 12 of the available 18 seats in the North Eastern states of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Bauchi, and Gombe. It also delivered 13 out of the available 18 senatorial seats in the North Central states of Kwara, Kogi, Niger, Nasarawa, Benue and Plateau. Others are 13 of the available 18 senatorial seats in the South Western states of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti, in addition to the only seat it won in the entire South South geo-political zone, precisely Edo North.
However, the entire 15 senatorial seats available in the South East, comprising Ebonyi, Enugu, Abia, Abambra and Imo States form the bulk of the 49 won by PDP. These are: 17 seats from South South; five from South West; five from North Central; three from North East and one from North West.
Meanwhile, important issues of legislative competence and experience have been adversely affected by the failure of over 70 per cent of senators to be re-elected. Many Legislators are known to have added great value to the apex legislative body in its efforts at improving the quality of legislations for good governance of the country. For example, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Solomon Ita-Enang from Akwa-Ibom State is one whose services would be missed. Ita-Enang was unable to get the ticket of his party, the PDP, to contest election into the Red Chamber.
He was elected into the Senate in 2011, after acquiring 12 year’s legislative experience in the House of Representatives. The chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Ahmed Mohammed Markarfi from Kaduna State, is one the senators not re-elected.
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