Ahead of the inauguration of the 9th Senate, on June 10, 2019, there have been intrigues on the choice of who occupies the position of Senate President.
Following the results released by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the All Progressives Congress, APC, has the highest number of both new and old Senators, with a total number of 64 Senators.
The main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has a total number of 42 Senators, while the Young Progressives Party, YPP, has one Senator, bringing that to a total of 107 Senators, with others yet to be declared.
In electing the Presiding Officers, section 50 (1a and b) of 1999 Constitution as amended reads: “There shall be: (a) a President and a Deputy President of the Senate, who shall be elected by the Members of that House from among themselves; and (b) a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, who shall be elected by the Members of that House from among themselves.”
Also in determining who becomes the Presiding Officers, the Senate Rule allows only a ranking Senator to be selected for this purpose, and according to the Standing Orders: “Nomination of Senators to serve as Presiding Officers and appointments of Principal Officers and other Officers of the Senate or on 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.”
Interestingly, only 2 of the Senators have publicly indicated interest for the position, while 2 others, are still being speculated, and not made public.
The present Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, APC, Yobe North, and the former Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, APC, Borno South, have told the world that they want the number three position, and they have been reaching out to Senators, Stakeholders, and Leaders.
Lawan in particular, has been crisscrossing the country with many of his colleagues, making consultations and meeting with Senators-elect.
For the position of Deputy Senate President, it was gathered that the APC has zeroed it down to the South-South, and further micro-zoned the position of Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, to Senator Francis Alimikhena, Edo North. Senator Alimikhena, a Lawyer came into the Senate in 2015, and was elected at the beginning of 8th Senate as Deputy Chief Whip, and since then, he has shown his experience, charisma, diligence, calmness, and team spirit, having chaired many Adhoc Committees.
When confronted this week, Senator Ahmed Lawan stated: “We are reaching out to all our colleagues, regardless of their political persuasions. It is a Senate that will consist of the APC, PDP, and YPP. Therefore, we need everybody to support the genuine and laudable cause of making Nigeria better. I will ensure that our administration is able to deliver laudable projects for Nigerians, and the best way to achieve this, is for all of us to work together.
Also as part of the scheming for the position of Senate President, it was gathered that some of the Governors, Elders, Leaders and Stakeholders have keyed into the Ahmed Lawan project and have taken the campaign to the door steps of the Senators-elect.
A source revealed that the Stakeholders have also planned to reach out to other contenders like Ndume, former Governor of Gombe State and Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Danjuma Goje and the former Governor of Nasarawa State and Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, APC, Nasarawa West.
Lawan has even been adopted as the Candidate of the APC, but this did not go down well with Ndume, as he has vowed to dare the APC and the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, to ensure that he realises his ambition.
As part of moves to contest for the Senate President position, Ndume who has even gone ahead to unfold his 9-Point Agenda and Blueprint for the 9th Senate, when he finally becomes the Senate President, however promised to improve upon the performance of the 8th Senate, by making the Office of the Senate President less attractive, through reduction of unnecessary privileges attached to the Office.
Ndume who promised to uphold the independence of the Legislative arm of government, however, hoped to “work harmoniously and inter-dependently with the Executive, without undermining the principle of Separation of Power”.
While the duo of Lawan and Ndume have stepped up campaigns, former Governor of Gombe State and present Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Danjuma Goje, and former Governor of Nasarawa State and present Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, have not formally declared for the position, but their body language have shown clearly that they are interested in the number 3 position.
Also, as part of the scheming, the Lawan group has expressed fears of strong permutations by the opposition PDP in the Upper Chamber, to wrestle majority status with the ruling APC.
The PDP Senators as alleged, are planning to replay the 2015 scenario, just as there are alleged moves by the PDP, to poach 13 APC returning and new Senators, to forestall the emergence of Senator Ahmad Lawan, as the President of the 9th Senate.
It was gathered that the information leaked when two Senators approached to be the arrow heads of the plan, but felt uncomfortable, alerted both the party hierarchy and the campaign team of Senator Ahmad Lawan, on the urgent need to be aware of the development.
Part of the plan as gathered, is that the PDP has designed a Blueprint for their members to back a returning APC Senator from Gombe State, for the Senate Presidency, with the support of the 13 APC Senators already penciled down, with alleged mouth-watering monetary rewards, that would see them through the resultant party blacklist while in Office, as well as their lives in retirement.
It was further gathered that the two Senators said that they were doubtful of the success of the PDP plan this time, because most APC Senators have already made up their minds to support Senator Ahmed Lawan, for the position of Senate President.
On why he refused the offer and his readiness to support Senator Ahmed Lawan, the ranking Senator said: “At the moment, Lawan is the Candidate to beat, using well known international parliamentary best practices and parameters.
“All odds are in his favour in terms of experience in the administration of the Legislature in this country. He has been in the National Assembly in the last 20 years. His achievements at the Committee level are unassailable. Remember the engine room of legislation is the Committee stage.”
The Senator-elect disclosed: “They also discussed with us the revival of the “Like Minds Group” of 2015, and their various social media campaign of calumny, most especially their deliberate attempt to link a National Leader of APC, Senator Bola Tinubu, to the emergence of Senator Ahmad.”