Posted by News Express | 6 April 2019 | 1,015 times
On February 23, 2019, Nigerians across various parts of the country trooped out in their numbers, to their different polling units, and elected a President and lawmakers that will represent them in the 9th National Assembly. These lawmakers include 109 senators from 36 states each, divided in three senatorial districts and one from the Federal Capital Territory. They also elected 360 members of the House of Representatives representing federal constituencies from their states. Those elected will replace members of the outgoing 8th Senate and House of Representatives.
A quick look into the 8th National Assembly, which is winding up gradually, particularly the Senate: it will be fondly remembered for various controversies. Ranging from the controversy that trailed the election of its principal officers, invasion of the Senate chamber by thugs who stole its mace, allegedly led by Senator Omo-Agege, and mass (re-) defection of members to the opposition party, including the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; corruption charges levied against members of the Senate; the drama (police humiliation) of the likes of Senator Dino Melaye, and lots more.
The better parts of their stay in the Senate was literally spent frequenting courtrooms and being docked, while some of them were held in custody of law enforcement agencies, answering questions that bordered on misdemeanour.
The 9th Senate might not be devoid of such controversies as about 10 per cent of its members are still facing major corruption charges, with some already being prosecuted. The list includes former governors and other public officials.
Away from all these, the tussle for the exalted seat of the Senate presidency is getting intense, and gathering tumultuous momentum. The race is getting more competitive, contenders have left their marks and a lot of permutations, calculations and lobbying are being done by keenly interested parties. There is a forceful yet delicate “mad rush” by some senators to possess the coveted seat, no doubt instigated by the prestige and incentives attached to it than the weighty encumbrances of loyalty and statesmanship it places on the occupant.
No matter the race, one thing is clear: the Senate needs a presiding officer who has an extraordinary clout and virtues needed for its leadership. Not just this, the individual must be well respected and largely free from corruption charges.
With a succession line of 13 former presidents, the red chamber, as the Senate is fondly called, must ensure the controversies that soiled the 8th Assembly, is ultimately avoided in the next gathering of 109 lawmakers that would be deliberating on behalf of the nation as a whole.
The Senate presidency is undoubtedly next in line in our democracy to the exalted position of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, as the zenith in the legislative arm of government. It is, therefore, logical that a lot of attention is being drawn to who would take over from the president of the 8th Assembly, Senator Bukola Saraki, who lost his bid to return to the Senate in the just-concluded general election.
There is a compelling need for caution in deciding how this important position should be filled, and who is most suitable among those jostling for recognition, against the despicable experience of bitterness coupled with betrayals of all sorts which virtually halted the reign of All Progressives Congress (APC) in the country.
The President of the Senate is the presiding officer of the Senate whose chief function is to guide and regulate the proceedings in the Senate. The Senate president is third in the presidential line of succession. He is assisted by the Deputy President of the Senate. An indeed, coveted but uneasy position, not meant for lucky jesters or prank players, who found their way into the Senate. He must be devoid of corruption, must be loyal to our democracy and must possess all leadership qualities required to sail the ship to safe-landing.
Chief among these contenders is the present Majority Leader of the Senate, Senator Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan, whose role in saving the Senate and, indeed, his party, the APC, from total disintegration will be difficult to ignore in considering the next Senate presidency. He exhibited impressive pedigree as one of the most experienced top-ranking senators with an impeccable record of service and high moral standing. Little wonder his colleagues call him the “Legislative Encyclopaedia”. Political analysts argue that Senator Lawan will be suitable for the office of the Senate president, comparable to the spick-and-span President Buhari who has no corruption charges against him.
Truly, if the ultimate goal of the APC in choosing Saraki’s successor is to restore the Senate’s respect, peace and harmonious relationship between the executive and the National Assembly, especially the Senate, and delivering good governance while upholding party supremacy, Lawan is highly recommended. He would prove himself as a loyalist and provide excellent leadership at the most difficult times without losing the respect of his colleagues or the APC party executives.
The leadership qualities, experience and capacity acquired by Lawan – who represents APC/Yobe North Constituency since 2007 – highly qualifies him for the position. Additionally, considering that Lawan’s geo-political zone delivered APC’s massive votes at the presidential election, it is only fair to promote Lawan as next the Senate president. Recall that his excellent leadership qualities came to the fore during the trying times in the Senate, when he was nationally applauded as a bridge-builder and most capable of restoring the dignity and repositioning the Senate with the depth of his legislative knowledge and experience.
While most of his colleagues are being tried by various law enforcement agencies, Lawan, who has been in the Red Chamber for 12 years, has never been invited or tried in any court of law by any security or law enforcement agency for allegation of any corrupt practice.
With the advantage of age on his side - being neither too young nor too old to head the Senate – Lawan, born in 1959, received a bachelor's degree in Geography from the University of Maiduguri, a Master’s degree in Remote Sensing from Ahmadu Bello University and a doctorate degree in Remote Sensing/GIS from Cranfield University, UK. He is known for his fearless roles in the Senate. In August 2009, Lawan spoke against the proposed Kafin Zaki Dam.
Truly, if the 9th Senate would succeed in its primary duties, it will need a thorough sanitation by a highly experienced legislator such as Lawan, who has not lost his confidence, respect and integrity in the course of national duty.
•Mordi can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org
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