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Dr. Bukola Saraki

The unfolding political realities in the country today is one that calls for political realignment among gladiators as well as new thinking among bookmakers and strategists. This is because; the task of building the Nigeria of our dreams requires the collective efforts of all compatriots. This is why the choice of who become the next Senate President and chairman of the eight National Assembly is becoming the concern of all and sundry.

After this year’s General Elections, the All Progressives Congress (APC) became the ruling party in the country as it produced the President as well as the highest number of lawmakers for the incoming National Assembly. With this fact in view, it is natural that the incoming ruling party produces the next Senate President for the National Assembly. But how it goes about it will surely determine whether it will have it or get it frittered away!

Since the elections ended, several names have popped up as possible contenders for the exalted Senate job. These are; Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, former governor of Kwara State, Senator George Akume, former governor of Benue State, Senator Ahmed Lawan from Yobe State and Senator Danjuma Goje, former governor of Gombe State as well as those who are still studying the political environment before deciding to either run or not.

Though APC is yet to officially zone the position to any geopolitical zone, but, contenders are at the peak of their subtle campaigns for the said job, especially those from the North Central and North East Geopolitical zones. Accordingly, with APC producing 64 Senators and PDP producing 45 Senators, bipartisanship is going to be one of the languages the incoming assembly will use often. This is because, for any decision to be taken, at least 2/3 votes must be gathered. Hence, the 2/3 of 109 Senators is around 72. So, both APC and PDP do not meet up with the required threshold to avoid filibustering on the floor of the Red Chamber. Therefore, there is going to be bipartisanship or symbiotic relationships in the incoming Senate for any bill to be passed.

In the spirit of the above, no one can out rightly rule out the chances of the outgoing Senate President, Senator David Mark from staging a comeback if APC refuse to manage its new position very well.

From various media reports so far, Senator Saraki is coasting home to victory as he is far above other contenders for the race! Apart from getting about 64 endorsements from his fellow Senators, it has being reported that most of the outgoing and incoming governors have all expressed supports for him. This is coming on the heels when it was reported that about 18 Senators from the Northeast geopolitical zone have ambushed the aspiration of Senator Ahmed Lawan. Though Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim and former governor of Yobe State have expressed supports for Lawan. This was contained in a series of newspaper advertorials in major newspapers last week which he personally signed. In similar vein, the Governor of Yobe State, Mr. Ibrahim Giadem has through his Chief Press Secretary endorsed and canvassed supports for Lawan. But all these are just individual supports and may not reflect the thinking of other Senators from the zone.

Nonetheless, following the failure of APC leadership to heed the advice of the outgoing Governor of Kano State and Senator-Elect, Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso who advised that the party should come out with its zoning arrangements for various positions early enough so as to avoid the Tambuwal/ Ihedioha syndrome; if the feelers put out is anything to go by, then it is likely that popular candidate among the Senators will emerge as Senate President. It could come from any of the two parties because from the records available, both APC and PDP do not enjoy outright lead that can stave off any surprise on the floor of the Red Chamber come June this year. In lieu of this, nobody in APC should rule out the sagacity, tested maturity, acceptability, wisdom and the large war chest of Senator David Mark in this contest.

It will be recalled that despite the endorsement of Mark by PDP as its sole candidate for Senate Presidency in 2007, it was the popularity of the Benue-born Senator that fetched him the job. Even though he was greatly challenged by Senator George Akume who as at then was a first term Senator as well as a PDP member who defied party directive, Mark emerged victorious with 69 votes while Akume polled 39 votes. This was when the PDP enjoyed outright majority in the Senate.

Hence, for APC not to experience near success syndrome, the party hierarchy should come out with a categorical statement endorsing a popular and acceptable candidate for the post. If Senator Saraki has already gotten 64 endorsements from his fellow Senators, it means he is popular to be considered for the endorsement.

Therefore, with the above reality in view, I think the APC should not look at any other direction again as doing so could mean  going against a moving train which may be disastrous at the end. And like I said in my article entitled: “Why Saraki Should be the Senate President”, it will be nice if APC endorse him as its sole candidate because he is widely seen as a candidate of equity and competence.  Doing otherwise may lead to a repeat of what happened in 2011 in the House of Representatives where the PDP endorsed Hon. Mulikat Akande-Adeola as it candidate for the job, but Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, a popular candidate among Reps. Members emerged as the House Speaker. So, to avoid such a scenario which contributed to the poor performance of the PDP in this year’s general elections, it will be right if the Leadership of APC should endorse a popular candidate for the job. By doing this, it will end up becoming the master of the change Nigerians effected on
March 28 and April 11.

Written by Comrade Edwin Uhara, aJournalist and Public Affairs Commentator based in Abuja.