As Nigerians Await the Inauguration of the 9th National Assembly: The Tussle for Senate Leadership Begins

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As some political heavy weights and some fading power brokers in the federal legislative arm of government get set to take their final bow, this time, a permanent exit bow for some in the life of the fast closing 8th National Assembly following the conclusion of the general elections, a new political battle front opens. It is the battle and intrigues of who becomes the next Senate President and by extension, the leader of the national legislature – the National Assembly come June 2019.

The losers in the yet to be concluded war would certainly include but not limited to Senators Abubakar Bukola Saraki, Godswill Akpabio and other who lost their bids to return to the red chamber in the just concluded February 23 polls. The permutations is not limited to the senators-elect alone but extends to the influences of executive powers as well as the public, particularly those who are concerned about seeing a more cordial legislative-executive relationship based on the understanding that both arms need to harmoniously work together to entrench our democracy and quicken development.

Amidst the permutations, intrigues and antics, Digest sampled the opinions of public affairs commentators on whom they think would likely emerge the next President of the Senate. The preponderant position was that the All Progressives Congress would show possessive interest in who become the next Senate presiding officers to avoid the recurrence of the 2015 experience in which the presidency’s insipid disposition led to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party producing the deputy senate president in the person of Senator Ike Ekweremadu.  

Baring who the ruling party’s – the All Progressives Congress and the Presidency’s choice might be even in the face of geopolitical balancing, the majority of opinions favour the current Senate Leader, Sen. Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan to succeed Sen. Abubakar Bukola Saraki in the coveted office of President of the Senate from June 2019 to June 2023.

Although opposition or contest might arise from Senators Ali Ndume, a former Senate Leader and Danjuma Goje, a former governor also from the northeast zone, Senator Lawan is adjudged to possess superlative marks in charisma, character, capacity and competence to sail through having come very close to that position in 2015 when he lost to the political machinery as advanced and commanded by the political supremo Abubakar Bukola Saraki.

Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan represents Yobe North District, in Yobe State. He is one of the very few legislators since the return to democracy in 1999 who has shown faith and maintained consistency to party membership; not guilty of  the ‘jumpology’ (consistent to and fro party membership) characteristic of others. His participation and career in politics is as old as the 4th Republic.

Lawan is a graduated lawmaker having served in the House of Representatives for two terms (1999 to 2007), from where he was elected to the Senate in 2007 a position he has occupied to date. His contributions on and off the floor of the Senate are oft spiced with eloquence and patriotism. He had at different times, chaired crucial House and Senate committees. His is most distinguished, not as Leader of the Senate but in his chairmanship of a prime parliamentary committee for promotion of transparency, accountability and good governance – the Senate Public Accounts Committee from 2007 to 2015.    

Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan whose initials form the special word SAIL, would most likely, sail to the topmost position of the legislature in June 2019. However, the challenge for him and public expectation, is the compelling need for him to get set to divest himself from the predominate role of speaking for the presidency which the position of Senate Leader invests on him to that of presiding for the masses as president of the people’s parliament.

It is worth noting that what is happening in the Senate that is, the struggle for positions is also happening in the House of Representatives where Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara might be relinquishing the speakership to any of the contenders if his frantic efforts to retain the seat with his party’s (PDP) a little over 100 reps-elect against the All Progressives Congress 220 seats of members-elect. While this looks mathematically impossible given the belief that politics is a game of numbers, there may be no impossibility going by the 2015 senate history. 

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