Ahead of the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly in June, underground jostling for leadership positions in the federal parliament has commenced.
INEC has said certificates of return will be issued to the senators-elect today while the House of Representatives members-elect will receive theirs tomorrow, Wednesday.
Reports that the current 9th National Assembly was inaugurated in June 2019 and will come to an end in June 2023. In the same month, the 10th assembly will be inaugurated.
According to the results so far declared by INEC, the ruling APC retained majority of both the Senate and House of Representatives seats, with 57 and 162 members respectively.
A week after the election, those eyeing the positions of the Senate president, deputy Senate president, House of Representatives’ speaker, deputy speaker and other principal officers have begun their moves.
Though the APC lawmakers-elect scheming for the presiding officers’ posts are yet to declare their interests, sources told Daily Trust that they were already reaching out to their colleagues, seeking their support and the party leadership in zoning the positions to their geo-political zones.
Many, it was learnt, had sent out their foot soldiers, comprising high-profile lawmakers, to commence underground campaigns, and arrange meeting with the president-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on the constitution of the leadership of the national parliament.
Although Senate President Ahmad Lawan and Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila have won re-election, they are not likely to be considered for the plum jobs apparently to balance the power-sharing formula.
Both Tinubu and Gbajabiamila are from Lagos, while Lawan and Kashim Shettima, the vice president-elect, are from the North East.
Barau Jibrin (Kano), Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom) Sani Musa (Niger) and Dave Umahi (Ebonyi) are among the potential frontrunners for the Senate presidency.
Jibrin, a ranking lawmaker, was first elected in 1999 to the House of Representatives, where he chaired the House Committee on Appropriations.
He switched to the Senate in 2015 to represent Kano North and has won re-elections since then. At different times, he chaired Senate committees, including Appropriations.
Barau enjoys the support of many of his colleagues, who often describe him as a soft-spoken lawmaker.
He is the only APC candidate to win senatorial seat from Kano. The two others were won by NNPP.
Orji Uzor Kalu
Kalu is the Chief Whip of the Senate. His campaigners are banking on a balanced power-sharing formula, which they believe may push APC leadership to consider the South East believed in some quarters to be “marginalised zones”, and a Christian to win the confidence of the Christians after the outrage that followed the APC Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket.
Sources close to Kalu said he had started reaching out to his colleagues and APC governors, whose states produced APC senators in the last elections.
A close associate of Musa said the senator, who chairs the Committee on Senate Services, would declare his ambition if the party zoned the position to the North Central geopolitical zone.
Musa had vied for the position of APC national chairman but was prevailed upon, along with other aspirants, to step down for a consensus candidate.
The source said, “Senator Abdullahi Adamu, APC national chairman, is interested in the emergence of Sani Musa as the next Senate President and is willing to rally other party stakeholders in his favour.”
“He (Sani Musa) is already talking to his colleagues and close associates about his ambition.”
In the House of Representatives, it was gathered that potential candidates for speaker and deputy speaker had started constituting strategic teams to realise their ambitions.
Those mostly like to declare interest after zoning the positions are Ahmed Idris Wase (Plateau, Deputy Speaker), Muktar Aliyu Betara (Borno, House Committee Chairman on Appropriations) and Alhassan Ado Doguwa (Kano, House Majority Leader).
Meanwhile, the APC Stakeholders’ Forum, North Central zone, has asked the President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and other critical stakeholders in the party to zone the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 10th Assembly to the region.
Addressing a press conference after their meeting in Abuja on Monday, the conveners, Rev. Dominic Alancha, Hajiya Farida Odangi Suleiman and Mark Hanmation, said the zone deserved the position for fairness, equity and justice.
Rev. Alancha said: “It will not be out of place if we as a region call on our great party the APC to consider and zone the position of the speaker of the 10th House of Representatives to the North Central given its outstanding performance in the just concluded 2023 general elections and for fairness and equity.
“The outstanding performance of the North Central region in the 2023 presidential election is a testament to the fact that the region remains the swing zone and any party that the zone flips to is primed to always win election.”