10TH SENATE UNDER AKPABIO: The Need To Rewrite The Wrongs Of lawman’s 9th Senate
Let me start by congratulating the president of the 10th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Godswill Akpabio on his recent feat as the leader of the Senate, under the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR.
No doubt that the emergence of Senator Akpabio as the Senate President did not come on a blanket of gold as anticipated by many, especially within the ruling All Progressives Congress(APC).
The race of who and which geopolitical zone should occupy the number three seat became a national issue within the APC immediately after the swearing-in of President Bola Tinubu on May 29 as the 16th elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Initially, the race began with the clamouring that the seat must be zoned to the Southern region, and was pegged between the South-South with the nomination of Senator Godswill Akpabio, Akwa-Ibom state and South-East with the nomination of Senator Orji Kalu, Abia state.
The political assertion that the seat should go to the South-South over the South-East widely gained notoriety with prominent people in power and outside power from and outside the region going down memory lane on how South-East has monopolized the seat from 1999 to 2007 with five different Senate Presidents from the South-East but despite this, Senator Orji Kalu vehemently agreed that the South-East is the best region to produce the next occupant of the seat considering how the region was dissuaded by the APC from producing the Presidential candidate of the party in the 2023 election, and that he is the most courteous and apt Senator from the region to occupy the seat.
As the race between the two Southern regions became tenser, Senator Abdulaziz Yari from Zamfara state further escalated the permutations as he showed interest in the seat to be the Senate President. The show of interest of Senator Yari hoisted political pressure on President Bola Tinubu, as the AREWA and supporters of Yari told Tinubu not to meddle in the affairs of the legislative arm, especially in whom becomes the next Senate President of the 10th Assembly. On the other hand, the clamouring from the Southern region to President Tinubu was that he must do everything to impede a government under him that will portray a Muslim Federal led-government of a Muslim President, Muslim Vice President, Muslim Senate President and Muslim Speaker House of Representatives.
Section 50 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended and subsection (1) There shall be:-(a) a President and a Deputy President of the Senate, who shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves; shaped the basis of the arguments of the Senate caucuses of Yari and Kalu’s camps that the Presidency must allow the senators-elect to freely and willingly exercise their constitutional rights in electing who occupy the seat but President Tinubu did not allow that to deter him from ensuring Senator Akpabio who was the party anointed candidate for the seat emerge for balancing, especially from the religious angle.
Since 1999, the Senate Presidency seat has been zoning to the region of the President, except for 2011 when the President came from the South, Goodluck Jonathan and the Senate President from the North Central, David Mark.
Despite the appeasement, Senator Akpabio went to the election with a strong contest with Senator Yari which was highly keenly contested but in the end, Senator Godswill Akpabio emerged as the winner. The election was a repeat of what we saw in 2007, between Senator David Mark and Senator George Akume.
In revealing how they were able to prevent not to have the scenario of 2015 (Saraki), the senators in the camp of Akpabio said they arrived at the national assembly on the day of the election as early as 4 am.
The Need For Senator Akpabio To Rewrite The Wrongs Of lawan’s 9th Senate:
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The 9th Senate under the leadership of Senator Ahmad Lawan was heavily criticised by many Nigerians, as a “rubber stamp” Senate as conspicuously against the true reflection of a federal legislature in section 4 of the 1999 Constitution.
In assumption to office in 2019 as the 9th Senate President, Senator Lawan made a statement that the senate under him would ensure that everything the then President Buhari brings to the Senate will get the approval of the President which Nigerians vehemently dissented with Lawan and told him to run a Senate like that of his immediate predecessor, Bukola Saraki.
During the 8th Senate under Saraki, the legislature was seen to have performed exceptionally well over thorough oversight functions, the scrutinised process of the executive policies and programmes, and the rejection of nominees to the Senate with corruption allegations which made Nigerians see the 8th Senate as the true reflections of the legislative arm of government but was not seen in the 9th Senate.
The uncontrollable approval of loans under the 9th Senate for Buhari’s government further aggravated the legislative activities, especially the last-minute approval of the loan for subsidy palliative which has been pushed to Tinubu’s administration nailed the Lawan’s Senate leadership as a confirmed “rubber stamp”.
Nigerians did not see the 9th Senate as the true voice and representation of the people, but rather a Senate that was solely controlled by Buhari’s administration.
Senator Godswill Akpabio’s 10th Senate must maintain a good and robust relationship with the executive but NOT allow the harmonious relationship to turn to a rubber stamp Senate, where the interest of the few minorities at the Presidency will override the interest of the majority Nigerians that the composition of the 10th Senate is representing.
The political journey of Senator Godswill Akpabio
1) 2002- 2006: Commissioner in Akwa-Ibom
2) 2007 – 2015: Governor, Akwa-Ibom
3) 2015 – 2019: Senator
4) 2015 – 2018: Senate Minority Leader
5) 2019 – 2022: Minister, Niger Delta Affairs
6) 2023 -? : Senate President, 10th Assembly
I wish the 10th Senate under Senator Godswill Akpabio a successful legislative journey towards a better Nigeria.
Sam Olorunfemi Jr