– North East kicks
THE battle for the leadership of the 8th Senate is heating up as the North Central zone might have been favoured to produce the Senate President, even as the North East are also in the race to succeed Senator David Mark.
Contenders for the seat from the North Central include Senators Bukola Saraki, (Kwara), George Akume (Benue), Barnabas Gemade (Benue), Danjuma Goje (Gombe), Ahmad Lawan (Yobe) is also eyeing the seat from North East.
The North East has been clamouring for the position with the argument that the North Central should not be in the struggle, having been in the saddle since 2007.
Those rooting for a North East Senate President, say it is time to look elsewhere since the zone has been occupying the number three office since 2007.
“In the spirit of cohesion and sense of unity, the office should be zoned to the North East which has been left out in the cold since 2007,” one of the senators from North East stated.
Another source within the North East Senate caucus also claimed that the number of ranking senators and senators returned from the two geo-political zones are the highest in the chamber, which is another reason the zone should be given the Senate Presidency.
“In the March 28 National Assembly election, the North Central had 13 senators while the North East elected 14 senators. Out of the 13 senators from the North Central, only six are ranking senators, while in the North East, we have seven.”
Already, high-level lobbying of the national leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has commenced in line with the Senate Standing Rules (2011, as amended).
The Senate rules, which applied in June 2011 when Mark was re-elected as president, gives preference to any serving senator who is re-elected to the chamber.
Based on the ranking rule, the North East caucus has tipped Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Ahmad Lawan, for Senate President.
Senator Lawan was first elected into the House of Representatives in 2003 where he served two terms. In 2011, he was elected into the Senate and was re-elected on March 28.
While the Senate ranking rule favours Ahmad, the same rule also qualifies Senators Saraki and Akume for the position. Akume has been Minority Leader since 2007. Former PDP National Chairman, Chief Barnabas Gemade is equally a ranking senator.
ENCOMIUM Weekly however, scooped that former Governor of Kwara State (Senator Saraki) has been endorsed by the APC. In picking Saraki, the party is compensating him for his loyalty and commitment to the APC which was in opposition before they crushed the PDP at the executive and legislative levels of governance. Senator Saraki was one of the so-called PDP rebel governors who plotted President Jonathan’s defeat. Another factor working for Saraki is his Yoruba roots which makes him more of a western candidate than a core northerner. Also working in Senator Saraki’s favour is that the two ranking senators (Gemade and Akume) who are from the North Central, hail from the same state with the out-going Senate President. Saraki’s sponsors and supporters also flaunt his political sagacity, mass followership and popularity as the reason he’s fit for the prime job.
The election of the President of the Eighth Senate will take place on June 4 when the new assembly would be inaugurated.
With the majority attained by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the March 28, 2015 elections in the upper chamber, lawmakers of the APC will certainly produce the Senate President, his deputy, Senate Majority Leader, Deputy Majority Leader, the Chief Whip and Deputy.
Ranking senators who lost out in the race to occupy Senator David Mark’s exalted office may be considered for any of the other plum offices as well as chairman of juicy Senate Committees.
Senator David Mark, a former Communication Minister and a retired General is the first Senate President of Northern extraction. And now re-elected to the 8th Senate, he is a multiple- term Senator.
The first Senate President with the inception of democracy in 1999 was Senator Adolphos Nwabara. He was succeeded by Senator Chuba Okadigbo. Then came Senators Evan Enwerem, Anyim Pius Anyim and Ken Nnamani.
– UCHE OLEHI