By Chukwuemeka Arinze
The inauguration of the 10th National Assembly (NASS) is scheduled to take place at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja on Tuesday, June 13, 2023 with uncertainty looming on who may likely emerge President of the next Senate.
Although the zoning of the seat to the South-South geo-political zone by the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC appears to favour former Akwa Ibom State Governor, Senator Godswill Akpabio, indications have emerged that the APC leadership and the Senators are not sincere with the decision, with emerging indications that the APC Senators may not be sincere in their support to Godswill Akpabio’s aspiration.
An inside source within the ranks of Senators-elect revealed that “those shouting in the day time as his supporters actually retire to a different agenda in the night”.
Chief among their reasons for not supporting Akpabio is the fact that the current arrangement of political leadership by the ruling APC has left out the North-Central zone and the South-East from the political equation with the Country’s President from the South West and the Vice from the North East.
This has given credence to support being geared towards the candidacy of former Governor of Zamfara State, Senator Abdulaziz Yari who also has in his group a former Governor of Abia State and current Chief Whip of the Senate, Orji Uzor Kalu.
This group of Senators who have a large cult followership in the red chambers have vowed to ensure that North-Central Zone and the South-East are not cheated out of the nation’s power play by having the support for Yari’s Presidency intensified, while Orji Uzor Kalu is being pitched as Deputy Senate President.
Another factor that has gone against Senator Akpabio is the swipe he took at the National Assembly Members when he was the Minister of Niger-Delta during the probe of NDDC. The then Minister is quoted to have attacked the National Assembly Members as being greedy politicians who shared in looting and plundering the coffers of the Niger-Delta Development Commission.
This has remained a bitter pill, with most national lawmakers wondering why a man that saw nothing good about the lawmakers could now be gunning to become their leader.
Again, Senator Akpabio, according to sources is haunted by his own disposition to his candidacy. Rather than consulting widely and shoring up his support base among the elected Senators, the former Governor is said to be paying more premium to cheer leaders to sing his praises in the media, with different ethnic groups and socio political groups leading the former Senate minority leader’s cheerleaders
It’s been discovered that the immediate past Senate President, Ahmed Lawan who is seen as an imposing figure in the red chambers has also clearly distanced himself from the candidacy of Senator Akpabio. He is among those mounting pressure on Nigeria’s President to desist from insisting on Akpabio’s emergence as President of the Senate.
Authoritatively, reports have it that Senators had also faulted President Ahmed Tinubu’s idea of announcing a Senate President for them without their input, saying it goes against the principles of separation of powers.
“Never in the history of the country has a President of the Senate been unilaterally announced without consultation with senators and that is why most of us are out to ensure that we are not being seen as mere appendages of the executive”, said a source.
Also, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC is not yet done with the former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Akpabio who has been invited severally by the commission to clear himself of some financial impropriety bordering on his tenure as Governor of the State, and his sojourn in the Niger-Delta Affairs Ministry, where he supervised the Niger-Delta Development Commission, NDDC. How this episode will affect his ambition is left to be seen.
It is not clear if the two senators from his home State, who are members of the PDP, are going to route their support to Akpabio, but there has been accusations from the former Minister’s camp, against the government of Akwa Ibom State for not openly championing the aspiration of their son. Eventhough it has not been established whether the State Almohad a role to play in influencing the choice at the chairman of the new National Assembly.
The answer to the drama of the senate presidency lies in the bellies of 109 lawmakers from several political parties who have the onuses to choose from within themselves a first among equals, and this will be answered on Tuesday, June 13,2023 when the doors of the chambers shall be flung open for the tenth National Assembly to be activated.