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, based on established tradition, the Senate President, is expected to come from the South. In the South, the South-West has produced the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Ahead of the formal zoning of the position, many contenders for the position had already emerged. Names emerging include the incumbent Senate Chief Whip, Sen. Orji Kalu, Senators-elect Godswill Akpabio, Adams Oshiomhole and Dave Umahi, the incumbent Governor of Ebonyi among others.
They had indeed started subtle campaigns among their colleagues. They hinged their ambition, 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 crying of marginalisation.
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’s imperative that we move issue of Nigeria’s political dilemma to front burner, given the significance of issues 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.
“This would be for sake of equity, fairness and justice, to maintain balance of power and a sense of inclusion. Zoning the Senate President to the 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 he has the political pedigree, senatorial experience, district development acumen, courage, boldness and reliability, 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 stressed that zoning has always been a reoccurring decimal at every stage of Nigeria’s politics.
The Anambra South Chairman of the APC, said that the pattern has been the same since 1979 and 1999 He added 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, has supported Kalu to emerge as next Senate President.
The group called on leadership of APC, to zone office to the South-East in the spirit of justice and fairness.
This is part of the communiqué read by the group’s President, Dr Ezenwa Onyirimba.
“We call on the leadership of our party to look into zoning the office of the Senate President 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.
“He will give the people a sense of belonging. In the party, he will perceive Muslim and non-Igbo as friends. This will enable our party to penetrate the zone and take advantage of the dying situation of PDP in South-East.
“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.
“As free thinkers, we have also looked around for the most qualified candidate. We decided that Sen. Orji Kalu is most qualified, credible and highest-ranking member of 9th Assembly from the zone.
“He is suitable for the position of the Senate President of the 10th National Assembly.
“We urge our party to avoid a repeat of Saraki’s system of hijacking the Senate leadership. Such system will bring distraction to the administration of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu,’’ the communiqué reads in part.
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 recently. He said that Kalu ought to emerge as President 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.
“There is a need to correct the perceived anomalies in the marginalisation of ethnic entities in the polity. It’s apt that incoming administration of Asiwaju Tinubu, should streamline the power-zoning of critical positions of the ruling party. This is important 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 in this context that we took position to support candidature of Sen. Kalu for Senate Presidency,’’ Ademola said.
On choice of most qualified for the job, Ademola said that Sen. Kalu stands taller above others as most qualified. 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 1999 to 2007. This is the same period that the president-elect also served in Lagos state.
He said that gives Kalu the added advantage to appreciate 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 ninth 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 Kalu is most qualified in balancing political equation of appropriateness and best possible choice this time. He stressed that Kalu is a cerebral personality who can play balancing act in a delicate political environment like Nigeria.
10th National Assembly Senate Presidency
“Kalu is a ready-made tool to deepen democratic experimentation as Senate President for the convocation of the 10th National Assembly.
“Kalu is amendable, dependable, reliable and dogmatic to work in the national interest. He will not rock the boat of governance for Asiwaju Tinubu/Shettima Administration.”
Other senators-elect can be ambitious, but a Senate President does not require learning on the job. Nigerians desire the experiment of a ranking senator.
As voiced by commentators, Kalu stands taller than his colleagues, the cap fits him and he should get it. (ENDS)
Do you have a flair for Citizenship Journalism? Share story(ies) of happenings in your area with The NewsZenith on WhatsApp: 08033668669 or firstname.lastname@example.org