9th NASS: South East, North East Push For Senate Presidency

Barely three months to the inauguration of the Ninth National Assembly, leaders from the various geo-political zones have intensified lobby for the position of presiding officers of a new Senate.

Although the All Progressives Congress (APC) is yet to zone the various senate positions to geo-political zones, South East and the North east are making strong cases to produce a Senate President.

Top politicians and various interest groups in the South East have said for the sake of equity and fairness, the zone should produce the senate president.

They also hinge their case on the fact that the zone has produced some APC senators and also, gave the political party more votes than in 2015; when there was speculation that the senate presidency should have been zoned to it had there been any APC senator.

It was gathered that APC leaders from the South East are talking to senators-elect on the desirability to zone the senate presidency to them.

Also, the North East is positioning for the senate presidency, arguing that since the post has been occupied by a senator from the same area as the president, as it was during former president Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, when the South produced the senate president, except during the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, it would be fair to let the zone have it.

The North East is championing Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan’s candidacy.

Regardless, the senators are waiting on the APC leadership to give directives on how to go.

Meanwhile, despite South East political leaders angling to have the zone produce a senate president, Daily Sun gathered that returning senators elected on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) are positioning themselves for  the Minority Leader post.

South East senators in contention for the post include the Chairman of South East Caucus and spokesman of the PDP Caucus in the National Assembly, Enyinnaya Abaribe, who is returning to the chamber for a fourth term. Abaribe is from Abia State.

Also, Chukwuka Utazi, from Enugu State, and Chimaroke Nnamani, who are ranking senators, are also interested in the position, it was gathered.

Sources said Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, from Enugu, is under pressure to bid for the position.

Ekweremadu is a three term deputy senate president. He has held the position since 2007.

Besides the minority leadership position reserved for PDP lawmakers, other  positions up for grabs in the opposition side of the chamber are Minority Whip, Deputy Minority Leader and Deputy Minority Whip.

It was learnt that opposition lawmakers have endorsed an arrangement, where the position of minority leader is zoned to the South East, deputy minority leader is retained in the North East, minority whip in the North Central, while the deputy minority whip is reserved for the South West.

James Manager, representing Delta South, who is also a fifth term senator, is also said to have been linked to the minority leadership position.

Returning senator, George Thompson Sekibo, from Rivers State, is also jostling for the position. Currently, the South South has the highest number of PDP senators-elect.

PDP lawmakers are said to have formed caucuses across the zones; to push what they believe would be a strong team from the opposition in the Ninth Senate.

(The Sun)

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