By Obike Ukoh
WITH disputes still raging over the Presidential and National Assembly elections, jostling, has however, started for the headships of NASS, especially the Senate.
Though not cast in iron, but based on established tradition, the Senate President, is expected to come from the South.
In the South, the South-West is excluded, as the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is from the South-West.
Ahead of the formal zoning of the position, many contenders to the position had already emerged.
Names being mentioned include: Incumbent Senate Chief Whip, Sen. Orji Kalu, Senators-elect Godswill Akpabio, Adams Oshiomhole, Dave Umahi, the incumbent governor of Ebonyi, among others.
They had indeed started subtle campaigns among their colleagues.
They hinged their ambition, without doubt, on the expectation that the APC leadership may likely zone the position to the South.
But zoning the position to the South-East, is highly favoured, as many analysts believe it would pacify the Igbo, who have been clamouring for Igbo presidency and cry of marginalisation.
But if these considerations sail through, many believe the current Senate Chief Whip, who was former Governor of Abia State has the brightest chances, because of cognate experience, and highest ranking APC senator from the South-East, the fourth in the hierarchy.
Ahead of the power sharing arrangements in the National Assembly by APC, Mr Kolajo Abiola, son of late MKO Abiola, has made a case for the zoning of the position to the South-East for the “ sake of equity, fairness and justice.’’
He also zeroed his choice to Sen. Orji Kalu, whom he said is eminently qualified to be the next Senate President.
Abiola in a statement said inter alia: “With the 10th National Assembly beginning to take formation, the conversation surrounding the next Senate President is beginning to intensify.
“Our vibrant compatriots from the five states of the South-East region of Nigeria are clearly in a state of despondency, feeling shortchanged. “This is noticeable during the recent electioneering campaigns and thereafter.
“Furthermore, the major reaction to the emergence of the winner of the 2023 Presidential Election is a very clear message from our brothers and sisters of the Eastern extraction in particular.
“Unsurprisingly, the acrimony and bad blood generated by reasons of perceived marginalisation need serious attention.
“It is thus, imperative that the issue of Nigeria’s political dilemma be moved to the front burner given the significance of the issue at stake.
“Given the above and banking on the political sagacity of the President-elect, Asíwájú Bola Tinubu from the South-West, and Vice-President-elect, Sen Kashim Shettima from the North-East, it would only be fair for the 10th National Assembly Senate Presidency to be zoned to the South-East for the sake of equity, fairness, and justice, thus maintaining the balance of power and a sense of inclusion.
“Zoning the Senate President to South-East is the right thing to do.
“Most importantly, it is time to heal the wounds and nothing must take us back to the pre-civil war era again as a nation.’’
Abiola, who singled out Kalu for the position said that: “He has the political pedigree, senatorial experience, district development acumen, courageous, bold, and reliable, a nationalist, detribalised, resourceful and pragmatic.
“Similarly, his experience in the private sector will help sustain a workable national development plan for Nigeria.’’
In the same vein, a chieftain of APC in Anambra, Chief Izuchukwu Okeke, tipped Orji Kalu, as the best option.
Okeke, the Anambra South Chairman of the APC, stressed that zoning has always been a reoccurring decimal at every stage of the country’s politics.
He said that the pattern has been the same since 1979 and 1999, adding that following the known tradition, South-East ought to produce the next Senate President.
“Today, we have Sen. Ahmed Bola Tinubu as President-elect, with Kashim Shettima as Vice President-elect.
“It is fair and just for the South-East to occupy the post of the Senate President.
“ We have South-East people in the senate and the senator that deserves to be there is the former governor of Abia State and currently the Senate Chief Whip, Sen. Orji Uzor Kalu,’’ he said.
Also, a group, United Nigeria Movement for Equity, Justice and Fairness (UNMEJF), has thrown weight behind Kalu to emerge the next Senate President.
The group called on the leadership of the APC, to zone the office to the South-East in the spirit of justice and fairness.
This was part of the communiqué issued by the group and read by its President, Dr Ezenwa Onyirimba.
The communiqué reads in part: “That we urge and call on the leadership of our party to look into zoning the office of the Senate President officially to South-East.
“A Senate President from South-East will bring the needed peace and co-existence among all Nigerians and thereby, reducing or eliminating the agitation from that zone.
“A Senate President from South-East will give the people a sense of belonging, in a party they perceived as a Muslim and non-Igbo friendly political party, which will enable our party to penetrate the zone and take advantage of the dying situation of PDP in the zone.
“A Senate President from South-East will ensure that the administration of his Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR will be well accepted by all and also it will show that our party belongs to all.
“We as free thinkers, have also looked further around for the most qualified candidate, we decided that his Excellency, Sen. Orji Kalu is the most qualified, credible and highest ranking member of the 9th Assembly from the zone.
“He is suitable for the position of the Senate President of 10th National Assembly.
“We urge our party to make it known to all our senators-elect to avoid a repeat of Saraki’s system of hijacking the leadership, which will bring distraction to the administration of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu,’’ the group stressed.
On his part, Prof. Ojo Emmanuel Ademola also asserted that the cap fits Orji Kalu.
Ademola, distinguished and foremost strategic political analyst and a global cyber security technocrat, stated this in a statement he issued recently.
He said that Kalu ought to emerge the President of Senate of the 10th National Assembly, among other contenders.
Ademola, who stressed the need for political balance, noted that stakeholders from the South-East have been obviously in a state of “flux, anxiety, despondency, annihilation, neglect and the purported claim of unfair treatment over equitable power sharing in the country, and their concerns need to be addressed to enhance democratic growth.
“ The incoming administration of Asiwaju BAT, against the need to correct the perceived anomalies in the marginalisation of ethnic entities in the polity, it’s apt to streamline the power-zoning of the critical positions of the ruling party to address injustice, unfairness and inequality.
“ And in consideration of this proposition, the South-East zone, like the other afflicted ones, deserves the slot of the Senate President as a compensation balancing trophy.
“ Once the Eastern-necessity propositions are imbibed by the cross sections of political players (North and South), the search for the most qualified, experienced, resourceful, devoted and committed team player from the zone becomes easier to accomplish.
“ It’s within this context that the candidature of Sen. Orji Uzor Kalu for the Senate Presidency is x-rayed and positioned,’’ Ademola said.
On the choice of the most qualified for the plump job, Ademola said that
“Sen. Kalu stands taller above others as the most qualified of his peers.’’
He noted that the current Senate Chief whip and senator-elect, Kalu is the 4th highest ranking senator from the South-East.
Ademola also noted that Kalu served a two-term tenure as Executive Governor of Abia, from May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007 (the same period that the president-elect served at the state level).
He said that, that gives Kalu the added advantage to appreciate the dynamism involved in leading a vibrant and complimentary National Assembly.
He said that it is equally important to take into account his successful first term as the Senate Chief Whip of the 9th National Assembly, which earned him the respect of his peers, most notably the Senate President, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan.
Lawan considered him “the most influential Chief Whip in the history of the Nigerian Senate.”
Ademola said that unarguably, Orji Kalu is the most qualified in balancing the political equation of appropriateness and the best possible choice in a time like this.
Ademola stressed that Kalu is a “cerebral personality who can play the balancing act in a delicate political environment like Nigeria at this critical time.’’
According to him, Kalu is “a ready-made tool needed to deepen democratic experimentation as Senate President for the convocation of the 10th National Assembly.
“For certainty, Kalu is amendable, dependable, reliable, and dogmatic to work in the national interest and not to rock the boat of governance for the Asiwaju Tinubu/Shettima Administration.
Though other senators-elect are entitled to their tall ambition, the task before a Senate President does not require learning on the job, the experiment of a ranking senator is highly desirable.
As voiced by commentators, Orji Kalu stands taller than his colleagues, the cap fits him, he should be given the chance.
A.Tags: Adams Oshiomhole Asiwaju Bola Tinubu Dave Umahi Sen Kashim Shettima Sen. Orji Kalu Senators-elect Godswill Akpabio