Senate Presidency: Akpabio and the Yari challenge 

With contest for presidency of the 10th Senate, assuming a two-horse-race between Senator Godswill  Akpabio and Senator – elect Abdulaziz Abdulkadir Yari, TAIYE ODEWALE examines their chances ahead of inauguration on 13th of this month

Earlier crowded race 

The race for presidency of the 10th Senate in March and April after the presidential and National Assembly election of February 25, 2023, was a very crowded one by contestants from both the Northern and Southern axis  of the country.

During the crowded race, Senators like Jibrin Barau (Kano North), Ali Ndume (Borno South), Sani Musa (Niger East) announced their aspirations for the position and even the incumbent Senate President, Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North), was  believed to be in the race. 

From the South during the same period, Senators like the Whip of the Senate, Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia North), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom North West), Osita Izunaso (Imo West), David Umahi (Ebonyi South), Adams  Oshiomhole (Edo North) directly or indirectly  aspired for the position.

APC  Zoning arrangement 

However three Mondays ago, precisely on 7th April, 2023, the crowd thinned out on account of zoning arrangement announced by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

The zoning as stated in a statement signed by the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Felix Morka, was zeroed down to Godswill Akpabio as preferred choice of the party for Senate Presidency and Jibrin Barau (Kano North), as Deputy President of the Senate.

Expectedly, after the announcement of the zoning arrangement by APC NWC, the crowded race got thinned out with burying of aspirations by the likes of David Umahi, Ali Ndume, Ahmad Lawan etc.

Specifically after announcement of the zoning  arrangement by APC, while the likes of David Umahi , Ali Ndume, Ahmad Lawan etc, completely opted out of the race, Jibrin Barau and Sani Musa repositioned their aspirations from Senate Presidency to Deputy President of the Senate.

However, Barau being official choice of APC  for the position of Deputy President of the Senate, flows together with  Akpabio in their campaigns to various categories of Senators- elect for the 10th National Assembly while Sani Musa stands alone in the race without attachment to any Senator running for Senate Presidency.

Senator Sani Musa’s insistence of running for Deputy Presidency of the 10th Senate is driven by the needs for balancing on positions sharing across the six geo political zones.

He along with many of the Senators – elect from North Central, kicked against the idea of APC zoning the position of Deputy Senate President to Northwest and that of the Speakership of the House of Representatives .

Apparently, for boosting his chances, he succeeded in making governors from the North Central zone to call for review of the zoning arrangement by leadership of APC at meeting held exactly two weeks ago in Abuja with aspirants nursing leadership positions of the 10th National Assembly.

The governors after the said meeting resolved as follows: “That the North Central as a geopolitical zone are fully committed to supporting the incoming administration of the President-Elect Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for a better Nigeria. And will do everything possible to ensure the Renewed Hope agenda is actualise for the prosperity of all Nigerians.

“The meeting reviewed the proposed zoning structure released, and promised to reach out to the President-elect His Excellency Bola Ahmed Tinubu and APC National Working Committee to appeal for re-consideration of the zoning of the Presiding offices of the National Assembly as released by the NWC.

“The meeting discussed the zoning as released and raised reservation with the allocation of the Positions of the Deputy Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the 10th National Assembly to a particular geopolitical zone of the country.

“That the meeting resolved and agreed to fully utilize all necessary dialogue and consultations to resolving the NASS leadership issue, they all agreed to reach out to all major stakeholders for an amicable and acceptable zoning framework that will be all inclusive.

“The governors agreed with the aspirants ‘  positions and appealed to all Senators and members- elect, to continue to give Mr President-elect, all the supports  needed for  smooth take up of the 10th National Assembly, while also furthering consultations”.

But despite the seeming support enjoyed by  Senator Sani Musa by most of the  Senators – elect from North Central zone for the Deputy President position of the 10th Senate, his chances look bleak because he is not pairing with any particular candidate running for Senate Presidency and even threatened by Senator Abdulaziz Yari’s challenge.

The  Yari  Challenge

Though supporters and campaigners for Senators  Godswill Akpabio and Jibrin Barau ‘s Presidency and Deputy Presidency of the 10th Senate, are claiming to have about 65 Senators – elect on their side but the challenge thrown by the Senator – elect from Zamfara West, Abdulaziz  Yari for Presidency of the 10th Senate, is rattling.

If Yari has his way, his Presidency of the 10th Senate, will knock off both Jibrin Barau and Sani Musa as probable Deputy President of the Senate.

Yari who at an interview session with journalists in Abuja last week, declared that his aspiration was not in anyway, affront to the zoning arrangement of APC said: “My aspiration for presidency of the 10th Senate is covered by relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution which to me, is superior to any other law or arrangement.

“I am a loyal party man, nobody has told me that any position has been zoned to anywhere as far as the 10th National Assembly is concerned.

“Position of President of the Senate, is first among equals among the 109 Senators . Any Senator – elect  who wants to occupy the position, must seek for support of others which i am doing.

“My aspiration for Presidency of the 10th Senate is covered by relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution which to me, is superior to any other law or arrangement .

“I am a loyal party man, nobody has told me that any position has been zoned to anywhere as far as the 10th National Assembly is concerned.

“Position of President of the Senate, is first among equals among the 109 Senators . Any Senator-elect who wants to occupy the position, must seek for support of others which i am doing.

“It is hire and fire arrangement . I want them to hire me as President of the 10th Senate on the day of inauguration. Many of those approached by me, have given their supports and i won’t disappoint them.

“My becoming Senate President on the day of inauguration lies with decision that will be made by 108 other Senators that day and nothing else”.

With exactly three weeks to inauguration of  the 10th National Assembly and in particular, the 10th Senate, Nigerians are obviously watching from the sidelines, as regards who and who will emerge for whatever position.

UNI Agric Markurdi
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