Senate Presidency: Senators zero in on Lawan

March 25th, 2019

*I’ll respect APC zoning formula-Senate Leader

*As Ifeanyi Ubah backs him

By Chuks Akunna (Executive Director), Joe Nwankwo (Executive Director) and Ignatius Okorocha

With the results of governorship elections certain in nearly all the 36 states, attention appears to be shifting to who emerges Senate President and chairman of the incoming National Assembly.

The AUTHORITY checks revealed that an overwhelming majority of senators-elect from the majority All Progressives Congress (APC), as well as the minority parties led by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), may have thrown their weight behind incumbent Senate Leader, Dr. Ahmad Lawan (APC, Yobe).

Others believed to be in the race are Danjuma Goje (APC, Gombe), Abubakar Kyari (APC, Borno), and Mohammed Ali Ndume (APC, Borno).

The leading party has not formally announced the zoning of offices in the National Assembly. There are however feelers that several APC leaders are favourably disposed to the position going the way of the north east.

“For greatly supporting us against their own son (Atiku Abubakar), the least compensation the north east should get is the Senate President,” an APC chieftain offered last night.

Several senators-elect across party divides told The AUTHORITY that their preference for Lawan, who has a doctorate in geographic systems and remote sensing, was borne out of his “legislative experience, educational qualifications, and team spirit”.

Said a ranking PDP senator, “Of all those seeking to become Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, in my opinion, is the best suited. Not that we in the PDP are not sleeping, though. Of course, we shall be too happy to celebrate cracks in their (APC) fold. I can tell you for free that we won’t hesitate to produce the SP if APC fails to put its house in order”.

He continued, “How many of those vying for the position can in good conscience say they are truly APC? Aside Lawan who was never in PDP, Goje and Ndume were staunch PDP members. Besides, I don’t think the incoming senate would want any person standing trial for any offence to lead it.”

On Kyari, who has two degrees from the US, and who never pitched his tent with PDP, the senator offered: ” I think Kyari and Lawan are about age mates, and from the old Borno State. True, unlike Goje and Ndume, Kyari never formally joined my party, but if I were an APC member, his candidacy would create some anxiety within me, given his closeness to SP Bukola Saraki.”.

Another PDP senator told The AUTHORITY that, depending on how APC handles its victory in the National Assembly, his party is likely to end up producing either the Senate President, or his deputy.

An APC chieftain said that, unlike in 2015 when President Muhammadu Buhari showed little interest in who emerged leaders in the National Assembly, “events over the past four years have taught us bitter lessons to the point that we all should be interested in the Senate leadership.

He said, “This is the President’s second and final term in office. We need a legislature that will be on the same page with the executive, so that APC can leave an impression that can outlive President Buhari.

“If APC is not able to deliver to the masses, then, be rest assured that the party will die the moment Mr. President leaves office in 2023. The National Assembly, particularly the Senate, is key to the success of any administration.

“We know how Mr. President struggled and is still struggling to get things done in the Senate. We can’t afford another experiment, as Nigerians are really expecting a lot from us.

“With all due respect, Leader (Lawan) is one true party man, who understands and shares in Mr. President’s vision for Nigeria. This is why, across party lines, we want him to lead the senate so that we can move forward as a country,” he declared.
I’ll respect APC zoning formula-Lawan

As the race for the presidency of the 9th Senate heats up, a major contender,Senator Ahmad Lawan (APC, Yobe North), has said that he would respect the wishes of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), if the position of President of the Senate is zoned to another region other than the North East.

Lawan who is currently the leader of the 8th Senate disclosed this while briefing journalists in Abuja yesterday also pledged to ensure equity and fairness in handling the affairs of the Senate, to facilitate unity and harmony among senators across party lines, if elected to the exalted office in June.

This was as the Senator-elect for Anambra South on the platform of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), Ifeanyi Uba, publicly expressed his support for Lawan’s Senate Presidency, noting that the Yobe-born politician belongs to the progressives group of lawmakers in the Upper Chamber.

Recall that Lawan’s candidacy was the choice of the leadership of APC in 2015 during the contest for Senate leadership position that gave rise to the emergence of Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki as president of the Senate in a most dramatic turn of event.

However, the Yobe born politician, who has renewed his determination to re-contest the position in the 9th Senate, expressed his resolve to carrying everybody along in the Senate because doing so is the secret of success and for any legislative chamber to deliver meaningfully within its lifespan.

He pointed out that, although the lawmakers are bound to disagree in the course of carrying out their legislative duties but they would always allow national interest to override personal interests, noting that as a member of the opposition for 16 years, he knew where and when to oppose or cooperate with the executive arm of government.

His words: “we will work to ensure that we achieve and attain that desired unity within the chamber. There will be equity and fairness in our affairs. I am sure that once we are able to unite around national interests we will contribute meaningfully to governance.

On what would be his reaction if his party decides to zone the Senate presidency to another region, he said: “I am a loyal party man. I will respect the decisions of my leaders and my party”.

On Legislature, Executive relationship Lawan said: “we need the cooperation and support of everybody. I also believe that if we want to work with the executive in a manner that we can deliver good governance, first we must achieve that unity amongst ourselves, the senators.

“Second, that we have a relationship with the executive arm of government that is characterised by consultation, coordination and partnership among the two arms of government.

“I always say that the Constitution provides for separation of powers and I always define separation of powers maybe in unorthodox way but I believe in that. The separation of powers does not amount to the independence of government.

“It is the specialisation of the arms of government. The executive cannot function without the legislature and the legislature needs to work with the executive in a cordial manner. However, that does not take away that special function of oversight. It does not take away ensuring that what we do in the legislature is to support the executive.

“Who says we will never disagree with the executive. By constitutional design, we are meant to disagree, hold different perspectives from time to time on issues. But when we disagree, I always say, we should sit down and look at issues and take a decision that is in national interest”.

Meanwhile the YPP Senator-elect, Ifeanyi Uba who doubles as Publisher of The Authority Newspaper, noted that apart from the fact that Lawan is the most qualified as well as a good man, he decided to support the APC Senate presidential contender because he (Uba) did not want to be a loner in the Red Chamber.

He however, noted that he had not made up his mind to decamp to the APC just as he stated that the YPP came to introduce a revolution to the change being preached by the ruling party.

“Well, Ahmad Lawan is a very good man and has the best experience in the Senate. And for me, this is a free world; it’s democracy, so am free to decide who to support and I am pitching tent with him. It is a choice anybody has to make. I can’t be a loner in the Senate.

“If any group comes and wants to lead the Senate, it is my duty to look at them and see if I can pitch tent with them. That is why today, I have pitched tent with Ahmad Lawan.

“I am still in YPP. What we are trying to bring into Nigeria under YPP is a revolution of change. But I cannot be in the Senate as only YPP Senator. I have to join a group in the Senate whom am seeing is progressive like us in YPP”, he stated.

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