By; SOLOMON AROGUNDADE
Intrigues, power play and hightech politics are presently being deployed by interested individuals as the search for the new leadership of the National Assembly gets underway.
And with talks hitting the front burner of public discourse ahead of the inauguration of the returning and elected senators on June 13 this year, it remains to be seen those who will lead other Senators as Nigerians yearn for better governance under the impending administration of the new president, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
For some political consideration, the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) with 59 Senators of the 109-Senate membership, has started meeting with the President-Elect, with a view of fine-tuning workable zoning formula that would put the party in a good stead ahead of May 29 inauguration date of the new president.
Prior to the arrival of Tinubu from his foreign vacation recently, interested returning senators have been holding meetings with their colleagues in Abuja, the seat of power with the sole purpose of securing their buy-in as potential Senate President and other juicy positions at stake.
According to the senate rules, legislative returnees are the ones properly positioned to vie for presiding officers’ spots. Pundits say the convention is utilitarian by helping to eliminate rancour generated by aspirations for legislative leadership positions. When the rule is added to the deliberate zoning decision, the leadership selection becomes much more streamlined and much less acrimonious.
For instance, Order 3 (2) of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 as amended on election of presiding and other officers, states inter alia: “Nomination of Senators to serve as Presiding Officers and appointments of Principal Officers and other Officers of the Senate or on any Parliamentary delegations shall be in accordance with the ranking of Senators. In determining ranking, the following order shall apply- (i) Senators returning based on number of times re-elected; (ii) Senators who had been members of the House of Representatives; (iii) Senators elected as Senators for the first time….”
Notable four of such ranking Senators who have been returned to the Senate ahead of June inauguration are the incumbent Senate President, Ahmed Lawan; Senator Alli Ndume; Senator Danjuma Goje and Senator Fatai Buhari, respectively.
Against this backdrop, of the four ranking federal lawmakers, Senator Abdulfatai Omotayo Buhari (APC-Oyo North), a Southerner of the foursome also has his name, daily ringing true amongst the returnee Senators, their newly elected colleagues and from within the camp of the President-elect and leadership of the party at the national, Zonal and state levels.
And reasons are not far-fetched. Apart from satisfying the Senate rule as a third-term elected Senator (2015-2027), Buhari, a pious Muslim was a one time member of the House of Representatives (2003-2007) and well-loved for his resourcefulness, diligence and trustworthiness, all of which qualifies him for the Senate’s number one leadership position but for the simple reason that the new President who will soon take oath of office is a Southerner like him.
In his Southwest geopolitical zone, the APC produced 15 Senators in the recently concluded 2023 General Election. Buhari is the only third term Senator of these legislators, a development that has positioned him as the primus inter pares when consideration is being made to pick a ranking Senator for the leadership of National Assembly.
Highly distinguished and armed with a doctorate degree, Buhari mixes freely with all Senators from across political divides and tribal configuration. He is a well experienced politician who has risen from across the ladder, serving at both the executive and legislative arms of government over the years.
In his home State of Oyo, Buhari had variously occupied Special Adviser and Commissioner positions and headed a number of House and Senate Committees where his integrity has never been called to question.
A polyglot and pan-Nigerian to the core, Buhari speaks Hausa, Yoruba and English fluently with a fair understanding of Igbo dialect and culture.
On his primary assignment of lawmaking business, Buhari is a top shot after lawmaker, with vast experience and had to his credit, scores of motions and 14 bills he sponsored with three already passed; one at the Committee stage and others at the first reading stages.
According to a legislative Advocacy group, ‘OrderPaper’ in its recent mid-term National Assembly Report Card, Buhari featured prominently as one of the top 10 Senators by Bill’s Progression (Productivity Index).
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Oyo State Council had recently overwhelmingly voted him as the best Senator in the history of those representing the State at the National Assembly.
He was adjudged as the best for his robust contribution to debates on the floor of the red chamber and very many mouth-watering empowerment tools and attraction of federal government projects, including facilitation of scores of indigenes of the State to secure federal government jobs.
Just last week, Buhari whose regular and timely empowerment projects were second to none, again provided constituents who are the beneficiaries of his ‘Thank You for Re-Electing me package’ with tangible items and cash support to improve their social-economic conditions.
Buhari had tagged the empowerment “Thank You Mini Empowerment Programme.”
The items distributed to the lucky constituents included 100 motorcycles, 150 sewing machines, 170 grinding machines, 70 power generating sets, 60 freezers, 150 vulcanizing machines, and cash support for 30 people.
Buhari who also made a brief speech at the event said that “This empowerment is my little way of saying thank you to the great people of Oyo North for voting for me overwhelmingly for a third term in the just concluded 2023 general election.
“This is just the tip of an iceberg in the dividends of democracy that will be provided for our people with this new mandate,” he had said.
With his rising profile and popularity, Senator Buhari is inching towards making another history as the next Senate Leader at the National Assembly as Oyo State which gave the President-Elect unprecedented votes in the comity of other Southwest States earnestly yearn for federal patronage to assuage for its political capital in the impending Tinubu administration.
This becomes more desirous because the APC is not in power in the State and would therefore be a great accomplishment for the party to once again, have one of its own as the Senate Leader, many years after such a feat was last achieved.
Arogundade, an Ekiti State-born public affairs analyst writes from Apo Quarters Abuja