By Idris Umar Feta
With elections of the 109 Senators of the 10th Senate almost concluded, public attention, in the polity, has gradually shifted towards the battle for the Senate Presidency and other principal offices, in the Red Chamber.
As lawmakers begin to jostle for these key positions, the race is expected to be highly competitive and closely watched by political analysts and the general public.
The outcome of this contest will likely have significant implications for the political and legislative agenda of the Senate in the coming years, some experts have, however argued.
The Senator Ahmad Lawan-led 9th Senate will cease to exist on June 10 and the 10th Senate will be inaugurated on June 11, 2023. Who succeeds Sen. Ahmed Lawan as President of the 10th Senate? This is the question agitating the minds of many Nigerians.
Currently, 101 Senate slots have been filled, with the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, having 56; the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, having 27; Labour Party, LP, 5; the New Nigerian Peoples Party, NNPP, has two; Social Democratic Party, SDP has two; All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA 1; and the Young Progressives Party, YPP, has one seat each.
Among the 109 senators-elect, 30 are currently serving in the 9th Senate. Ahead of the inauguration of the 10th Senate, some of the senators-elect and ranking senators from the APC, have their eyes fixed on the throne of the 10th Senate President.
Section 50(1a and b) of the 1999 constitution as amended read: “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”.
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.”
While the Senate President and his deputy must be elected at the hallowed Chamber on the day of inauguration, other positions to be filled that day or thereafter are the Majority leader; Deputy Majority Leader; Chief Whip; Deputy Whip; Minority leader, Deputy Minority Leader; Minority Whip, and Deputy Minority Whip, shall be the prerogative of the political parties, the majority party and the Minority parties.
As the race for the Senate presidency heats up, several lawmakers are emerging as the front runners in the race. These individuals are expected to wield significant influence over the direction of the Senate, and their campaigns have been marked by intense lobbying, horse trading, and strategic alliances.
Among the leading contenders for the position are Senator Orji Uzor Kalu (South East), Godswill Akpobia (South South), Senator Bara’u Jibrin (Northwest), David Umahi (South East) and Muhammad Sani Muhammad (North West), who are seasoned lawmakers with a wealth of political experience.
These individuals are known for their political savvy, legislative prowess, and ability to navigate the complex terrain of Nigerian policies.
As the jostling for these positions continues, analysts are closely watching for signs of shifting alliances and unexpected alliances. The outcome of these contests will likely have far-reaching implications for the balance of power within the Senate, and the political fortunes of the parties and individuals involved.
Sen. Godswill Akpabio
A former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senate Minority Leader, and Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, is seen as a very experienced and qualified candidate for the job.
His unique qualities and exceptional leadership skills have earned him the praise of the Northern groups, who see him as the best candidate to lead the Senate at this time.
Sen. Orji Uzor Kalu
Orji Uzor Kalu is a former Abia State Governor, and now a principal officer in the 10th Senate.
He contested the 2022 presidential primaries of the APC, but lost to the President-Elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Fondly called Engineer Dave, Umahi, Governor of Ebonyi State, was born to the humble family of Elder and Deaconess Joseph Umahi Nweze, in Umunaga Uburu in Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
He attended Umunaga Primary School in Uburu from 1971-1977, where he bagged his First Leaving Certificate with Distinction.
Umahi’s Senate Presidency ambition recently got a boost when the State Working Committee (SWC) of the Ebonyi All Progressives Congress, APC, Chapter, made a presentation to the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, recommending Umahi for his gracious consideration as the next Senate President, while looking forward to South East producing the leader of the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly, NASS.
Sen. Barau Jibrin
Barau Jibrin, a Senator representing Kano State, was born in 1959. He is a native of Kabo, Kabo Local Government Area of Kano State.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and master’s certificate in different disciplines, including Administration and Financial Management.
Senator Barau is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, and former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institution and TETFUND in the 8th Senate.
His portfolio puts him on the list of favorites for the presidency of the Senate.
Sen. Mohammed Sani Musa
The impeccable record of the Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District of Niger State in the 9th National Assembly, has put him among the top contenders of the Number 3 Citizen of Nigeria.
One thing that will play a role in the selection of the next President of the Senate, undoubtedly, is religious affiliation.
This will be considered in sharing leadership positions in the 10th National Assembly, especially after the saga of same faith ticket by Tinubu and the Vice President-Elect, Kashim Shettima.
Some pundits believe that the APC would be freely disposed to the zoning of the Senate Presidency of the incoming 10th National Assembly to the South East, to assuage the feeling of real or perceived neglect among the people of the area.
Others that are familiar with the President-Elect have noted that the incoming administration would consider objective reasoning in sharing the positions, and zoning of offices would be devoid of lopsidedness or ethnic discrimination.
Beyond the begging questions, making an informed decision on the 10th NASS’ leadership is going to be though, nevertheless, the outcome will have far-reaching implications for the country, affecting everything from the passage of laws to the tone and tenor of political discourse.
As the country eagerly awaits the inauguration of the 10th Senate and subsequent election of Sen. Ahmed Lawan’s successor, all eyes are on the individuals vying for the position, each with their own unique strengths and perspectives.
But who among Akpabio, Kalu, Musa, Jibrin, and Umahi will eventually become the victor?