Senate Presidency: APC Senators And The Game Of Numbers
With political campaigns, general elections and the inauguration of winners finally over, the elected are expected to settle down for action, which is governance.
Ironically, that is not to be said of the federal legislative arm of government – the National Assembly. In fact, another round of political campaigns with the associated intrigues have just begun.
In the Senate for instance, the battle has narrowed down between Senator Bukola Saraki from the North Central geo-political zone and his opponent, Senator Ahmed Lawan from the North East.
The two contenders for the exalted office of the Senate President rolled out what appeared like their manifestos last week, each, presenting what he believed would inform their choice as the leader of the 8th Senate.
Senator Saraki for instance, pledged to bring valuable leadership to bear on the activities of the Senate. Noting that the leadership of the red chamber is crucial to the overall development of Nigeria, he emphasized the need for one who has the grasp or understanding of what is required by the generality of Nigerians.
He said: “If you are talking about leadership, whether in the executive arm of government or the National Assembly, you must have people that have the grasp or understanding of what is required. It is not just being there for being in the position”.
Senator Saraki also promised to improve on the relationship between the National Assembly and the executive to ensure stability in the polity. He also pledged to take seriously the issue of oversight to ensure that budgets are implemented to the full as it is through such development that the people can enjoy dividends of democracy.
His words: “I believe that in the area of oversight, we can improve on our relationship with the executive. The Senate has done well in the past to stabilize the polity but beyond that, the Senate must have a national agenda or laws.
“There must be laws that transcend both sides of the party to address unemployment, diversification of economy, level of oil spill and other environmental issues. Both political parties would be on the same page on that.
“There should also be better corporation between the House of Representatives and the Senate. As a bicameral legislature, if one passes a law and the other chamber has to wait for a year or so before passing the same law, it results in inefficiency.
“Also, there are many laws that are outdated. Again, it would be the responsibilities of committees to look at some of them and make them applicable. There is a lot of work that need to be done but in doing them, the fundamentals would be the person with the capacity to provide leadership”, Saraki stated.
For Senator Lawan, his supporters under the umbrella of The Unity Forum stated that having considered certain issues, they have settled on the decision that Senators Lawan and George Akume are the two gentlemen that should be presiding officers in the 8th Senate.
“We do know that there are lots of issues to be tackled as we return to Senate next month. The Senate will have to play its major part in ensuring that governance will no longer be business as usual, that a new and renewed sense of transparency and accountability would be ushered into governance. “Therefore, we must ensure that leadership of the National Assembly will live by example”, said Senator Barnabas Gemade, the spokesperson for The Unity Forum.
But that is not the trending issue in their battle for the number four seat; it is rather the play on numbers.
Recall that at the retreat organized by the leadership of All Progressives Congress (APC) over a week ago, the group loyal to Saraki – The Like Minds Senators led by Senator-elect, Dino Melaye, released a list comprising 35 names and signatures of Saraki supporters. Out of this number, 24 of them were even present at the scene to authenticate their claim.
Aware that the party has 59 Senators in the 8th Senate, the calculation then would have been that Senator Lawan was left with only 23 supporters. However, when he spoke last week, he claimed to have as much as 40 out of the 59 APC Senators as supporters.
Although only about six of his supporters were present at that time, the Yobe State-born Senator promised to assemble all his supporters when they reconvene in Abuja this week for all to see.
The claim by Lawan’s group did not go down well with members of the opposition camp as they insisted that a list containing names of their supporters be made public.
But the fact remains that 35 and 40 put together is far beyond 59, which is the number of APC Senators. This therefore implies that one of the groups may have forgotten its arithmetic or has decided to trade falsehood.
Both camps also claimed to have majority of Peoples Democratic Party Senators on its side. However, it was speculated that majority of South East and South-South Senators-elect have queued behind Saraki.
According to the anonymous source, the choice was influenced by the immediate past governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator-elect Godswill Akpabio, who is bent on supporting his former colleague.
With the inauguration over, attention would be fully diverted to the National Assembly to see how best they will handle the issue of leadership without creating division in the party.
And going by the non-alignment position of President Muhammadu Buhari over National Assembly leadership, the stage is set for the two super powers to prove who indeed is a greater mathematician. Remember, there are only 59 APC Senators for now.
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