Senate President: Why the odds favour Senator Orji Kalu.

The reality on the ground now is that the race for the Senate president is hot. Nothing less is expected. The tempo has been raised to higher frenzy since the return of the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu last Monday from France where he went for vacation.


It will, indeed, be correct to say that the high-level talks just began as measured intrigues, stratagem and new political permutations seem to be evolvingThe contenders are equally outstanding political gladiators and the game is being upped by the minutes. READ MORE


So far, the leading aspirants for the coveted position are: Senator Orji Uzor Kalu (Southeast), Senator Godswill Akpabio (South-south), Senator Sani Musa (North-central), incumbent Senate President Ahmad Lawan (Northeast), Senator Barau Jibrin (Northwest), Senator Osita Izunaso (Southeast), Senator Abdulaziz Yari (Northwest) and Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi (Southeast).


Indeed, since they have collected their certificates of return, the senators-elect interested in becoming principal officers had been campaigning, many of them using media outlets and others doing direct lobbying quietly. READ MORE


The stake has now been raised with intense lobby as Tinubu’s return is expected to speed up the process of zoning the offices, so all aspirants are now playing up different interests that will give them political advantage.


There is no definite or specific word from official quarters of the APC yet, but there are speculations also that the South-south is being considered in the zoning formula for the office of the Senate president. But this push suffered a setback as the president-elect preferred that the position be left open for the entire South.


However, critical stakeholders and notable leaders have also been pushing for the zoning of the position to the Southeast; Speakership to Northwest; Deputy Senate President to North-central; and Deputy Speakership to the South-south. There are feelers that barring any last minute changes, the leadership of APC may likely settle for the aforementioned considerations.The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr Felix Morka, said that the NWC would take a decision as soon as an agreement is reached on the zoning agreement, but did not give specific time.


A credible party source also told Sunday Sun that after the preliminary talks between the President-elect and the national chairman and some other key party members that visited him before he moved to the Defence House, an elaborate meeting of key party organs would meet to fashion out a zoning formula that would reflect the principles of equity, fairness and religion.The source also disclosed that apart from zoning, other factors, including religion, voting patterns across the zones and the political base of the aspirants would be considered.


It was also learnt that a consensus option is being considered after the zoning formula might have been ratified.


So until the party comes out with its final stand on the zoning issue concerning the Senate leadership, it may be difficult to be categorical and exact on the outcome for now, he opined.


But what is certain is that the Southeast is seriously being considered for the office in the spirit of equity, fairness and justice.


Some political analysts who spoke with Sunday Sun said that it was only wise and politically correct to zone the Senate president position to the Southeast, since the Southwest has the presidency and the North, the vice president.


A notable politician from the Southeast region who would not want his identity to be disclosed told Sunday Sun that “Nigeria strongly stands on a tripod and when you ignore it, you may not get the best result in the governance of the country.


“The Southeast has been sidelined, neglected and traumatised since the inception of the President Buhari-led APC government.


“You can see the terror and resistance to governance from that region, so you need to integrate the zone to make way for peace and by extension a conducive environment for business to flow.


“You can start that peace negotiation process indirectly now, by giving the zone the Senate president. It will send a good signal of inclusion, friendliness and solid reintegration. I am not in any way suggesting that other zones should be ignored, no.”      Also given the strong inroads made by the APC in the Southeast zone by securing two states and more federal lawmakers, it is most likely, according to political watchers that the APC, would want to compensate the Southeast zone with the office of the Senate president.


Zoning Senate President to Southeast is to most observers a potent weapon that will right some perceived wrongs and enhance future chances of the party in the region.


Chairman, Governing Council and Pro-Chancellor of the Federal University, Lokoja, Kogi State, Senator Chris Adighije has made a case for the Southeast to be considered in their zoning formula.


He appealed to the APC to zone the Senate president to the Southeast, stating that it was deserving of them having produced two governors and six senators, as well as House of Representatives members for the party.


Also when there are tested hands from the zone like Senator Orji Kalu, for instance, in the 10th Senate, some political observers say, there would be nothing to worry about in terms of providing the right leadership.


Senator Adighije went further to disclose that although there are competent senators from the Southeast, who can stand tall on competence, Senator Orji Kalu, looking at his political antecedents, is most qualified and stands out as a strong, courageous and oldest among the pack.He said that Kalu is the oldest National Assembly legislator having been elected to the House of Representatives in 1992 and had the requisite credentials to lead the Senate.


He also said that among those aspiring for the position of the Senate president, Kalu had more national acceptability having a reach in the North, Southwest, South-south and Southeast.


“The former Abia State governor is a man of strong will and an astute politician who is capable of occupying and handling any political office.


“I believe sincerely that Kalu has what it takes to lead the 10th Senate as Senate President,” Adighije noted.


Unarguably, since Senator Kalu indicated interest in the race, a lot of prominent Nigerians, groups, including those in the Diaspora have endorsed him, thus expanding the list of those that have thrown their weight behind his ambition to emerge as the next president of the Senate, most of them citing regional and religious balancing.


In a post on his verified Facebook page on Tuesday morning, former Minister of Aviation and former Director of New Media, Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Organisation, Femi Fani-Kayode, did not mince words in recommending Senator Kalu as the Senate President and Senator Sani Musa, as Deputy Senate President.


He said: “Nigerian Senate would be safe in their hands. Their loyalty to our party and to our leader and President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is unambiguous, total and second to none. They are both seasoned, brilliant, courageous, tough, wise and experienced public officers.