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North West Politicians Push For Senate Presidency

North West Politicians Push For Senate Presidency

In Kano, where the 2023 elections were bitterly fought between the ruling APC and emergent opposition NNPP, lawmakers-elect and other politicians are looking beyond local rivalry in taking positions on the Senate presidency race.

Nigeria’s 10th National Assembly will be inaugurated in the first week of June and different interest groups across the country are already lobbying for the seats of Senate President and Speaker of the House of Represntatives.

The incumbents, Ahmad Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila, are not being mentioned in the races for the two offices principally because they are from the two zones that have produced the President- elect and Vice President- elect.

Senators-elect who have declared bids for the presidency of the Senate include Barau Jibrin (APC-Kano) and Abdulaziz Yari (APC-Zamfara) from the North-west zone; Sani Musa (APC-Niger) from the North-central; Orji Kalu (APC-Abia) and David Umahi (APC-Ebonyi) from the South-east; as well as Adams Oshiomole (APC-Edo) and Godswill Akpabio (APC-Akwa Ibom) from the South-south.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has 59 of the 109 seats in the Senate and is expected to prescribe the geo-political zone that will take the seat of the Senate President. But the senators can also defy the majority party’s intervention and elect whoever they prefer, as happened at the 9th Senate in 2015 when Bukola Saraki took the position.

However, in Kano, where the 2023 elections were bitterly fought between the ruling APC and emergent oppositiin NNPP, lawmakers-elect and other politicians are looking beyond local rivalry in taking positiins on the Senate presidency race.

14 Senate Presidents since 1960

Since the first Senate was inaugurated in 1960, the South-east zone has produced more Senate Presidents than any other zone. Nnamdi Azikiwe of the National Council for Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) was the first to take the position. But he vacated it the same year when he became the Governor-General of Nigeria to his NCNC colleague, Dennis Osadebey. Mr Osadebey held it until he too emerged premier of the newly created Mid-west region in 1963.

Nwafor Orizu, also of the NCNC, became Senate President in 1963 and remained so until the bloody military coup of 15 January, 1966 when as acting President of Nigeria he handed over government to the army chief, Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi.

Thirteen years later when civil rule was restored under the Second Republic, Joseph Wayas from Cross River State served as Senate President from 1979 to 1983 under the National Party of Nigeria (NPN).

Iyorchia Ayu from Benue State led the Senate from 1992 to1993 under the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the aborted Third Republic. He was succeeded by his kinsman also from Benue State, Ameh Ebute, who however held the position for only a few days in November 1993 until the military struck again.

With the beginning of the Fourth Republic in 1999, Evans Enwerem, from Imo State, was elected Senate president under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). But his tenure was tumultuous and brief, lasting between 3 June and 18 November 1999. He was succeeded by Chuba Okadigbo from Anambra, who was also removed in 2000. Another PDP senator from Ebonyi State, Anyim Pius Anyim, took over and served until the end of the fourth Senate in 2003.

The fifth Senate began in June 2003 with Adolphus Wabara, from Abia State, elected the Senate President also under the PDP. Mr Wabara was succeeded by Ken Nnamani, from Enugu State, who served until the end of that assembly in 2007.

David Mark, from Benue State, is the longest-serving Senate President, presiding over the sixth and seventh Senate from 2007 to 2015 under the PDP.

in 2015, Bukola Saraki, from Kwara State, was controversially elected against the wish of his party, the APC. But despite defecting to the PDP in 2018, he hung on to the position until the end of the assembly in 2019. The incumbent, Ahmed Lawan, from Yobe State, was elected to the office in June 2019 under the APC.

Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State
Unique Race

The struggle for the leadership of the 10th Senate is unique because the outcome is expected to be influenced by geographical, political and religious factors.

The North-west region is a strong base of the APC and has never produced a Senate President. Two senators-elect from the zone – the high ranking senator and current chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Mr Jibrin representing Kano-North district; and a former governor of Zamfara, Abdulaziz Yari – are vying for the seat.

But they face an obstacle in their religious adherence because the President-elect and Vice President-elect, Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettima respectively, are also Muslims. The APC same-faith presidential ticket was much criticised during electioneering and the party will be reluctant to give the third highest political office in the federation to another Muslim.

Abdulmumin Jibrin, a member-elect of the House of Representatives from Kano and of the opposition New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), said the 10th Assembly should not elect a Muslim as the Senate President. He further canvassed that the seat should be zoned to the South East as the PDP did in 1999 when the heads of the Legislature and Executive Arm both came from the southern region after a 20-year rule by the North.

Gov. Abdulazizi-Yari
Former Gov. Abdulazizi-Yari of Zamfara State.
Case for North-west
But others have argued that the APC should give the seat to the North-west in appreciation of the zone’s strong support for the APC in the General Election, just as the PDP did in 1999 after the South-east emerged as its stronghold.

Analysis of the voting pattern shows that the North-west gave the APC the most votes in the presidential election among the six zones, while the South-east gave it the least. Mr Tinubu got only 127,605 votes from the five South-east states, while Labour Party’s Peter Obi got the bulk with 1,960,589 votes.

The North-west gave the APC 2,653,235 votes, followed by the South-west with 2,279,407 votes. The North-central gave the party 1,670,091 votes, while the North-east, the home region of the candidate of the main opposition PDP, Atiku Abubakar, gave Mr Tinubu1,185,458 votes. The APC also got 799,957 votes in the South-south region.

Mr Tinubu is from the South-west but has established his political base in the north because the entire 19 northern states gave him 5,507,787 votes, compared with the southern states where he got 3,206,959 votes.

Thus unlike the PDP which since 1999 has got more votes from the South, the APC has been more reliant on the northern zones and is being urged to consider this in sharing the top federal political offices.

However, even though the party can zone the senate president’s seat to wherever it wants, it is not easy to force its lawmakers to abide by its arrangements. That was the scenario when Mr Saraki became Senate President in 2015 and Aminu Tambuwal became Speaker of the House of Representatives in 2011.

Senator Barau Jibrin.
El-Jibrin Doguwa, a former senator, on Sunday declared his support for Mr Jibrin’s bid, describing the Kano senator-elect as the most qualified aspirant. He said senators can rely on him for quality leadership.

The former lawmaker said those stressing the factor of religion are ignorant of the dynamics in the National Assembly. He said senators are statesmen who will consider the quality and capabilities of the contestants above their religions or where they come from.

“At the National Assembly, religion does not play a role in the selection of leadership. I was a member of the National Assembly. We always emphasise the productivity and capabilities of individuals and the issues at stake.

“Politics at the National Assembly never looks at somebody as coming from any direction, the National Assembly is an independent arm of the government and they don’t want imposition so that they don’t look like a rubber stamp,” he said..

“Barau Jibrin has good rapport with his colleagues and his constituents. I can tell that the success of the APC in Kano North district was based on his performance, if not because of him we will not be talking about APC in Kano.

Senator Sani Musa
“APC had a bad outing in Kano because of the wrong decisions taken. Senators can do away with whatever decision the party and even the federal government will take on the Senate presidency, Bukuola Saraki was elected Senate President against the wish of the federal government. Aminu Tambuwal was elected the speaker against the wish of former President Goodluck Jonathan. It is the relationship between the individual aspirant and his colleagues on what he is going to offer to them and the kind of leadership, because they can’t put anyone that will be a problem to them.

“Whatever position Barau Jibrin will hold, you will never find him wanting. He is a good man, very honest, has a lot of initiatives and is a grassroots politician. I senator El-Jibrin Doguwa am absolutely in support of Barau Jibrin becoming the next Senate president if our party the APC zones that office to our area. My son, Alhassan Ado Duguwa, is also seeking the speakership and that does not mean Barau Jibrin should stop seeking the senate president and Barau Jibrin’s aspiration can’t stop Ado Duguwa from seeking the speakership,” Mr Doguwa told reporters.

Also, a senator representing Jigawa Northwest, Danladi Sankara, said he is supporting Mr Jibrin.

“Barau Jibrin is a ranking senator, he edges others in experience and sound relationship with his colleagues. He is the kind of Senate President the 10th National Assembly needs to consolidate on the achievements of the 9th Assembly. As the chairman of the Senate committee on appropriation, he was the brain behind the redesigning of Nigeria’s budget circle starting from January,” Mr Sankara said on Sunday while hosting the youth wing of the APC from Zamfara State drumming support for Mr Jibrin.

A senator-elect for Kano South, under the NNPP, Kawu Sumaila, also declared his support for Mr Jibrin at a gathering in Kano last week.

Mr Kawu said the National Assembly is the most important organ of democracy and that its leadership cannot be toyed with. He blasted religious clerics and politicians who supported the APC Muslim-Muslim presidential tickets but have been silent on the race for Senate presidency, which he considers more important than the position of vice president.

“Whatever I will do, I will first consider my country and my people in Kano,. My position is clear on the Senate presidency, I will vote for Barau Jibrin. I don’t care that he is APC so long he will bring development here (Kano). If you give it to Abdulaziz Yari, he is my friend, I will vote for him,” the NNPP politician said.

Source:- Premium Times

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