Why Lawan should be the next Senate President

Why Lawan should be the next Senate President
December 30 11:12 2015

By Inuwa Yahaya

History was made on April 1, 2015 when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced that the candidate of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari, had beaten the incumbent Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan, to emerge winner of the March 28 presidential election.

Senator Ahmed Lawan

Senator Ahmed Lawan

This singular feat signalled the beginning of what has now become popularly known as the “change tsunami”. The tsunami swept across the country, swinging the National Assembly and governorship polls from hitherto PDP strongholds to APC.

This change did not stop there. The 8th National Assembly, which will be inaugurated in June, witnessed a change as never seen before. Indeed, since the return of democracy in 1999, this is the first time an in-coming assembly would be led by the opposition; a clear departure from the days when the leadership of the Red and Green Chambers had always come from the outgoing ruling PDP.

Moving forward, the opposition is now facing one of the consequences of change; reaching equilibrium before it is too late. The choice of who becomes the next Senate President has now become like a bone in the throat of the APC, one that cannot be swallowed nor spat out.

This is because getting it right is the only way to ensure stability in the national politics, given the role a sound legislative-executive relationship plays in governance.

The issue of zoning is a delicate one and must be handled as such. Recent reports indicate that the party may have changed its earlier position that the Senate president should be zoned to the North-central, settling instead for the North-east.

The reason for this is not far-fetched. The region has been a strong opposition force in the country at large and the North-east in particular. In fact, Borno and Yobe states have consistently been in opposition. Therefore, it is only proper that dedication be rewarded. This reward has to come in the form of the Senate presidency and the man for the job is Senator Ahmad Lawan.

Lawan has proven himself to be an unblemished lawmaker who has been the thick of legislative activities in both chambers of the National Assembly. Out of all the candidates touted to be in the race for the Senate President, Lawan has the added advantage of having served two terms in the House of Representatives (1999-2007).

Another factor in Lawan’s favour is the fact that he is the most experienced lawmaker among APC senators that would be inaugurated in June. He is the only senator who has no godfather and with his experience as a lawmaker, he should be able to help APC reposition the legislature for a better working relationship with the executive.

It is on record that Senator Lawan has no link with any corruption case anywhere; either in Nigeria or abroad. It is on record that when he was a member of the House of Representatives, he was given huge responsibilities such as chairing the Committees on Education and Agriculture.

Anyone familiar with the legislature would know that these committees were traditionally reserved for the ruling party. But Lawan, who was in the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) then, successfully steered the affairs of these committees and was even commended by various speakers of the House of Representatives.

In the Senate, as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, he has kept managers of the Nigerian treasury on their toes. He holds the record of convening the most committee meetings in the Senate. Senator Lawan will even perform better when saddled with a higher responsibility which is the office of the Senate president.

Another factor that may also tilt the Senate presidency towards Lawan, is that within the party, the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) power bloc has produced the president-elect, Gen Muhammadu Buhari, and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) wing has produced the vice president, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, while still having serious considerations about zoning the speaker of the House of Representatives to that zone.

In all of these, the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) has not been adequately compensated for its consistency, steadfastness and faithfulness in ensuring the political success of the APC in the region.

The party leaders have to now understand that the North-east can only be assuaged with the Senate presidency, knowing that the region was ANPP’s conclave before the merger and there’s the need to be equitable in sharing of offices.

Based on the foregoing, elders and leaders of APC should by now be considering zoning the presidency of the Senate to the North-east with Senator Lawan as the preferred candidate.

It is on record that the North-central, especially Benue state, has produced several Senate presidents, much to the exclusion of other zones in the North. The same North-central has produced Ameh Ebute as Senate president from 1993 till the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, took over power. Ditto Senator Iyorchia Ayu from the same state. The last Senate president produced by the same Benue axis is the outgoing Senate President David Mark, in 2007 till date.

Also, it must be considered that the disaster caused by the Boko Haram insurgents has set the North-east back many years. Development and restoration must be brought to the region and that can be achieved holistically by putting someone from the region in a prime position like the Senate president so that first-hand decisions and monitoring can be achieved.

In the spirit of Justice and equity, the North-east should be given the chance to lead the Senate beginning from June 2015. Senator Ahmad Lawan will provide quality leadership that all Nigerians will be proud of.