As the battle for the leadership of the 10th National Assembly draws closer, new intrigues are developing among the candidates for the Senate presidency despite the All Progressives Congress (APC) is yet to zone where the next number three citizen of the country will be from.
As the candidates await the zoning formula for the exalted seat, some candidates eying the senate presidency have intensified their campaign and lobbying to be the successor of Ahmad Lawan.
However, less than two months to the opening of the 10th National Assembly, the President-elect, Asiwju Bola Tinubu, and the leadership of the ruling APC have yet to openly proclaim their chosen zones that will produce the Senate President and the House of Representatives Speaker.
An increasing number of candidates are now vying for the Senate presidency as a result of the development.
Those eyeing the position include Senators Jibrin Barau (Kano North); Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom North-West); Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia North); Abdul-Aziz Yari (Zamfara West); Sani Musa (Niger East); Ali Ndume (Borno South), Osita Izunaso (Imo West), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi South) and Adams Oshiomhole (Edo North).
While some have supported local factors, others have campaigned for open elections, claiming that skill, party allegiance, and experience should not be sacrificed for the cause.
The party’s zoning plans, in which the next president and the APC leadership are anticipated to play important roles, will play a big influence in determining who the eventual contenders for the positions will be.
After spending a month on vacation in Paris, Tinubu returned to Nigeria on Monday as a large group of people, including party leaders, NWC members, governors, members of the National Assembly, and well-wishers, welcomed him.
According to sources close to Tinubu, the president-elect will meet with important stakeholders in a few days to decide how the leadership seats in the National Assembly will be zoned.
However, some stakeholders have reeled out why North West should preside over the 10th Senate.
The stakeholders under the aegis of North West geographical zone have claimed that it should produce the next Senate president in recognition of their support for the party in the presidential election while the candidates and Nigerians wait for the president-elect and the party to make a final selection.
The APC’s stronghold in the North West has never produced a Senate president. Out of the six voting zones, the zone awarded the ruling APC the most votes, while the South East gave it the least.
The zone 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 produced 1,185,458 votes. The APC also got 799,957 votes in the South-South zone.
Stakeholders from the region felt that electing a senator from the region would increase the APC’s chances of regaining control of Kano and other northwestern states that they had lost to rival parties like the NNPP.
They asserted that a performance of this size is extremely significant and deserves to be appropriately acknowledged for the sake of harmony, peace, advancement, and national cohesiveness.
Senator Barau Jibrin can wear the cap.
Senator Barau Jibrin (Kano North) is the only senator from the region to have publicly expressed interest in the coveted position, despite North West stakeholders’ ongoing efforts to recruit the zone to produce the next Senate president.
Party chieftains from the zone said Jibrin is the most competent for Senate presidency, considering his years of experience in the parliament and his understanding of parliamentary proceedings.
Senator Jibrin was originally chosen to serve the Tarauni Federal Constituency of Kano State in the House of Representatives in 1999. He was a member of the committee on electricity and chaired the appropriations committee in the green chamber.
In order to represent Kano North, he transitioned to the Senate in 2015, and he has since been re-elected. Barau served as deputy chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Petroleum Resources (downstream) in the red chamber before rising to the position of chairman.
In 2016, the then Senate president, Bukola Saraki, reshuffled the leadership of standing committees, and Senator Barau Jibrin was reassigned to the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETfund as the chairman.
He currently chairs the Senate Committee on Appropriation and also serves as a member of several others, including Niger Delta, industries, and land transportation.
He is the only APC senatorial candidate from Kano State who was not swept away by the NNPP Tsunami.
However, some analysts say the Senate presidency race is not expected to be a smooth sail for Jibrin due to his Islamic faith as the president-elect and vice president-elect, Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettima respectively, are also Muslims.
The Muslim-Muslim ticket, which generated controversies ahead of the presidential poll, experts said, inflamed a delicate situation for the party regarding zoning the parliament’s leadership positions.
Jibrin, however, had dismissed the calls for religious balancing in the composition of National Assembly leadership, saying competence should not be sacrificed for the sentiment.
He recalled a time the federal parliament had David Mark as Senate president; Ike Ekweremadu as deputy and Patricia Etteh as House Speaker, all Christians.
“They were the most experienced and ranking at that time. Competence was not relegated to sentiment then. Bringing religious sentiment won’t fly. It’s about competence, not sentiment. When we talk about experience, I’m the most experienced,” he argued.
APC chairman in Kano, Alhaji Abdullahi Abbas, APC, while drumming support for Jibrin, said the senator was central to the 513,000 votes APC garnered in Kano.
Abbas, therefore, implored the party leadership to reward hard-working Jibril with the position of the Senate president, pointing out that he was the most qualified to lead the Senate in the 10th National Assembly.
He noted that due to Jibrin’s influence, no other party had made inroads in Kano North where he hails from.
“Significantly, Kano State gave APC tremendous victory in 2015, 2019, and now 2023 elections, with the state producing the highest votes across the federation.
“This is time to reward a hard-working member who had contributed immensely to the growth of our party; by supporting Barau Jibril to lead the 10th Senate,” he said.
Also, a senator representing Jigawa Northwest, Danladi Sankara, backed Jibrin’s bid for Senate presidency.
Speaking while hosting the youth wing of the APC from Zamfara State, Sankara said, “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 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.”
A pan-African organisation, the Centre for African Progress and Development, urged the All Progressives Congress (APC) to zone the Senate presidency to the North West.
In a statement by its head of Advocacy and Public Engagement, Mr Chigbo Iwuanorue, the group said among the array of members of the red chamber jostling to occupy the position of Senate president in the 10th Senate, Barau Jibrin stands out as the right man for the job.
He said, “Senator Jibrin, who is widely known to be a unifier, has a potent mission to bring to the discussion table the North-South-East-West National Assembly members within the Senate, cater for everybody’s interests, unite the Senate, and drive the agenda of the new administration.
“His commitment to apt progressive leadership will deliver to the 10th assembly a less rancorous, less confusing, and less controversial Senate president. He commands so much respect among his people, his peers, and his colleagues at the red chamber and brings tremendous value to his party, the APC, the nation, and his region in the North West.
“He is the only senator with a proven track record of serving remarkably and exceptionally in running the Senate businesses and chairing the appropriation committee that drives the success of the APC government.”
A former Kano senator, El-jibrin Doguwa, at a separate press briefing in Kano State last week, said Jibrin is the most suitable of all the candidates vying for the Senate president.
He said, “First, I have to confess to you that I have known Barau Jibrin over the years and I can guarantee his capacity and tenacity to offer purposeful leadership in the Senate. He commands lots of respect from his colleagues, as a ranking member.”
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