THE ninth National Assembly will be inaugurated in June but already the battle for principal offices in the Senate has begun and is gradually becoming intense.
At the moment, the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has announced its preferred candidates for the positions of senate president and speaker of the House of Representatives, even though the endorsements have not gone down well with some of the members.
In the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, the current majority leader, has been anointed to replace the incumbent senate president, Bukola Saraki, but it is not yet clear who would become the deputy.
Unlike Saraki who lost his re-election bid, the incumbent deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, would be in the ninth Senate but he is unlikely to return to that position.
Here are some of the candidates that are currently warming up to take over from Ekweremadu:
Former Lagos State First Lady and wife to Bola Tinubu, APC national leader, Remi Tinubu, will be serving her fourth term by the time the ninth Senate is inaugurated and she has publicly declared interest in running for the number two position of the hallowed chamber.
“This is my third term as a senator. So, who said I cannot aspire to become senate president? I don’t want to be senate president but I have always wanted to become the deputy senate president because I have a lot of responsibility that I want to carry out. I have to always balance my life. This tells us that a woman can be married and always have a job, so, my home constituency has a lot of weight. That is why I am not pushing too much,” Tinubu said during a chat with journalists in February.
Tinubu, asides being the wife of a very influential member of the APC, also stands the chance of making history if she eventually becomes the deputy senate president. No woman has ever held that position in Nigeria’s history and many believe it is time such narrative is changed.
The Delta Central senator, Omo-Agege, became quite popular after he allegedly led thugs into the Senate chambers and whisked away the mace, the Senate’s symbol of authority. He then defied the Senate leadership and continued to attend sittings even after he had been suspended.
So far, Omo-Agege has not publicly declared his interest in running for the position of the deputy Senate President, but some senators loyal to him say he is interested.
“Omo-Agege is interested in being the deputy Senate president or any position zoned to the South-South, he only wants to abide by whatever APC says. Indeed, Omo-Agege has been loyal to Buhari and the APC. He also has the capacity,” The Punch quoted an unnamed lawmaker as saying earlier this month.
“In the name of loyalty, he now carries a scar; he carries a scar from defending Mr President. For that, the pro-Saraki people wanted his head on a platter. This is the time to reward that loyalty.”
Omo-Agege himself has declined from commenting on the issue, saying, however, that since President Buhari is from the North West and his vice from the South West, the other four top positions in the country, namely the senate president and its deputy, and the speaker of the House and its deputy, ought to be shared evenly among the remaining four geopolitical zones of the country.
First-timer, Uzor-Kalu is already making his presence felt by demanding that the position of the DSP should be zoned to the South-East, and if that becomes the case, he would contest for the position.
“I am a very loyal party man,” Uzor-Kalu told journalists on Wednesday. “The party has zoned the senate presidency position to the North-East and I want to respect the party’s will but the second position is what we are not going to allow to leave the South-East.
“So, as far as I am concerned, in the South-East, I am going to run openly on the floor of the House for the position of Deputy Senate President.
“I am not going to listen to the party neither will I listen to anybody. Nobody that wants to be the Deputy Senate President is more loyal than I am to the party.
“I have suffered for the party and have been called by Nigerians to come out. I want the party to respect the will of every other person and I am committed to democracy and contesting on the floor of the House.”
If he pulls this off, Uzor-Kalu would become the first freshman senator to become deputy senate president. But Uzor-Kalu does not see himself as a fresher.
“I know the nook and crannies of how legislators operate. I have dealt with them and I am not a newcomer. So, it is going to be impossible to edge me out or edge a whole zone out by claiming we are newcomers,” he said.
There are reports that Teslim Folarin and Ajayi Boroffice, two ranking senators from the South West, also have an eye on the deputy senate president position, but it is unlikely any of them could pose any significant threat challenge to Remi Tinubu.
Folarin the senator-elect for Oyo Central, will be returning to the Senate for the third time, having served two terms between 2003 and 2011. He then ran unsuccessfully for the governorship position of Oyo State, before winning another senatorial election in 2019.
Boroffice, for his part, is an academic-turned-politician who was first elected into the Senate in 2011 on the platform of the Labour Party. He defected to the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) later that year.
He was the first director general of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) and served in that position for 10 years.