AS the race for the Senate Presidency hots up, there are strong indications that a key decision may be taken this week to determine who emerges. A reliable source within the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Abuja, said the zone from which the Senate President will emerge is already being considered. Another source, however, told Vanguard that the party was still making consultations across the board and would settle for competent and trusted persons that would run the affairs of the National Assembly, especially the Senate. It was further gathered that the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, is making wide consultations and will settle for a Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, who will share in his vision of a renewed Nigeria. This, the source said, was apart from the consideration of the experience and qualifications of the different legislators indicating interest in the top job. According to the source, different interest groups and individuals are already intensifying campaigns for their preferred aspirants.
APC to take key decisions this week
Reliable sources within the APC said the party will take a position before the clamour for the plum job will degenerate to the point of confusion and disagreement within the party. The APC source, who spoke in confidence, said: “You know that if we leave this zoning open for debates for too long, all kinds of interests will emerge, and there might be alliances that will not support the position of our party.“We will, therefore, move latest by mid-week to decide where the pendulum swings before there will be recourse to primordial sentiments, such as religion and ethnicity.” The party source further stated that zoning was “a political issue, the decision is most likely to tilt towards who brought what to the table,” adding that “there will be no jostling for positions if we did not win the election.”
APC in the majority
The APC has won 57 seats so far, while the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has 27 seats. Others are Labour Party, LP, six seats; New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, two seats; and Social Democratic Party, SDP, two seats. The Young Progressives Party, YPP, and the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, have one seat each.
So far, those who have thrown their hats in the ring for the 10th Senate presidency include, serving Senate President, Ahmad Lawan (APC, Yobe North); Sani Musa (APC, Niger East); Senate Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu (APC, Abia North); Jibrin Barau (APC Kano North); Godswill Akpabio (APC, Akwa Ibom North-West); Deputy Senate leader, Abdul Ningi (APC, Bauchi Central) and Abdul- Aziz Yari (APC, Zamfara); Also, there are insinuations that Governor David Umahi (APC, Ebonyi South) and Adams Oshiomhole (APC, Edo North), are interested in becoming senate president. Also, Ali Ndume from Borno and Osita Izunaso from Imo State have both declared their intentions to run for the office.
While APC members and leaders from the North West argue that the zone contributed most to the making of Tinubu as president, the party South-East and South-South geo-political zones are making a case that the position of Senate President should be zoned to their regions. The respective zones are of the view that they must be considered to be most favoured in the zoning arrangement.
Aspirants intensify campaigns
Meanwhile, various groups have intensified campaigns for the aspirants. A group, Partners for Legislative Agenda for Nigeria and an APC chieftain, Adamu Garba, have stressed the need for the North-west to produce the next senate president. They reiterated their support for Jubrin to emerge as the next president of the senate adding that the lawmaker representing Kano North is a better fit to emerge. Addressing newsmen in Abuja, Garba, who was a Presidential aspirant in the 2023 presidential election, said: “The office of the Senate president must not be seen as a retirement home for past governors to while away time, but must be seen as a serious office that will make laws that will shape the destiny of Nigeria and transform the lives of its citizens,” While making a case for Jibrin, the APC chieftain said: “The horse-trading and scheming is currently on as to who becomes the Senate President of the 10th National Assembly. If we take the Senate Presidency to the North West, we will consolidate North West much better and mainstream them and make every member of the North West a continuous member of the APC, which would keep guaranteeing us victory in subsequent elections and the only one that has that capacity and competence is Senator Jibrin.”Also, the Partners for Legislative Agenda for Nigeria, in a statement by its convener, Charles Ibiang, said: “The APC has won the 2023 general elections, the president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is from South-west Nigeria while the vice president-elect, Senator Kashim Shettima is from the North-east.“We have six geo-political zones in the country, two are already settled while four are left to be settled. We, as a group are here, to demand that the position of the Senate president should be zoned to the North-west, and in zoning this to the region we demand that the party should consider zoning it to the North West of Kano State.“We all know the Chairman of the party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu is from the North Central. So, the West should be considered for the slot and the lot should fall on Kano State which delivered the greater part of the votes for the party in the just concluded election. In Kano, through Senator Barau Jibrin, the party won and retained the only senatorial seat of Kano North Senatorial District.“We, therefore, urge the APC to consider the North-West zone specifically for the job and Senator Jubrin from Kano State, representing the good people of Kano North Senatorial seat fits the bill.”Unconfirmed reports say Tinubu has picked Kalu, DoguwaHowever, unconfirmed reports say the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, appeared to have made his choice of candidates. News filtering from some sources in the National Assembly reveals that President-elect Bola Tinubu has settled for Senator Orji Uzor Kalu and Alhassan Ado Doguwa as the Senate President and speaker of the House of Representatives respectively. Kalu is the chief whip of the outgoing Senate, while Doguwa is serving out his term as the leader of the House of Representatives. Both ranking lawmakers hail from the South East and North West geopolitical zones of the country respectively. While Kalu, former governor of Abia State represents Abia North senatorial district, Doguwa also speaks for Tundun Wada/Doguwa Federal Constituency of Kano State. Again, both men were Tinubu’s contemporaries and allies in the National Assembly in the botched 3rd republic between 1992 and 1993. While Tinubu was elected into the Senate at the time, Kalu and Doguwa were in the House of Representatives. A source confirmed to Vanguard that the choice of Kalu and Doguwa has also received endorsement by the APC hierarchy – the National Working Committee, NWC, over the weekend. The development also puts to rest long weeks of speculations and permutations over which geo-political zones should produce the next Senate President and the speaker of the House. This is, however, coming a few days after the Senate spokesperson, Ajibola Bashiru, disclosed that the party’s leadership will reveal its position on the zoning of the 10th National Assembly leadership at the end of the current Muslim fast season.It will also be recalled that the speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, recently refuted reports credited to him that he had endorsed a particular individual for the speakership of the House, ahead of the zoning arrangements by the party. Gbajabiamila, who said he was a loyal party man and would only support the choice of the party through a zoning arrangement, said he would patiently wait for the party.APC sources, who pleaded not to be mentioned to avoid being sanctioned, also said the list was still being kept under wraps by the Abdullahi Adamu-led NWC. They said Senator Sani Musa’s name from the North Central geo-political zone had also been pencilled down for deputy senate president.Vanguard gathered that other senators also favoured for principal offices of the Senate include Senator Ali Ndume from the North East as the Majority Leader, and Senator Solomon Olamilekan from the Southwest zone as Deputy Chief Whip. Similarly, Senator Aliyu Wamakko from the North West was picked as the Chief Whip, while Comrade Adams Oshiomole who will be sworn in upon the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly, has been pencilled down for the post of the deputy senate leader, South-South.It was learnt that Oshiomole, a first-timer to the Senate was considered for office because of his pedigree as former national chairman of the ruling party and also a staunch ally of the President-elect.The zoning alignment which the sources said was premised on the interest of national unity, development and regional inclusion, was to also boost the fortunes of the party in future elections, adding that it has since received Tinubu’s blessings.Vanguard gathered that the NWC members after intensive deliberations decided to jettison the idea of the emergency of a Muslim Senate President, saying the party had already produced a Muslim President and Vice President-elect but favoured a Muslim speaker in the House of Representatives.While heeding the call from various quarters, especially the National Vice Chairman of the APC (North-West), Mallam Salihu Lukman, that northern senators contesting the post should step down to balance the Muslim-Muslim ticket approach of the party, the sources feared that the emergence of a Muslim Senate President would not augur well for the party.“Although there have been back-and-forth arguments on which region should produce the Senate president, our party understands that most of these arguments are valid. However, when you look at the outgoing administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the issue of regional imbalance both at the National Assembly and the executive caused a lot of problems for his government and our party wants to avoid that beginning with the zoning of the National Assembly leadership positions, especially the Senate presidency going to the Southeast,” one of the sources, an NWC member, said.On the choice of Doguwa, Vanguard learnt that Tinubu was waiting for the conclusion of the supplementary elections to know which direction it would go.A source close to Doguwa told Vanguard yesterday that the majority leader of the House “enjoys a very cordial relationship with Asiwaju,” adding that “Doguwa is very much in the race and will not back down.”