As the race for the Senate Presidency hots up, a group of ranking senators-elect has called on the in-coming administration of Muhammudu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) to abide by its change mantra and allow due process to be followed in electing the principal officers for the apex legislative chamber.
The ranking senators-elect posited that if due process was followed, Senator Ahmed Lawan (APC, Yobe) should be the next Senate president.
The President-elect, General Buhari had, last week, declared that he has no preferred candidate for the Senate president and the speaker of the House of Representatives, stressing that he is ready to work with anybody elected into the positions.
The group of ranking senators-elect, who rose from a brain storming session in Abuja Monday on the stance of the president-elect and the APC on the Senate Presidency race, said if indeed “due process would be allowed as the red book (Senate standing order) stipulates, then Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan is the aspirant to beat.”
According to one of the Senators, who sought anonymity, “if indeed the president-elect and the party (APC) are for due process and rule of law, then Ahmed Lawan should be the next Senate President”.
The senators-elect, according to the source, advised the in-coming administration to abide by its change Mantra, which means that it would not be ‘business as usual’. They pointed out that even under PDP controlled 7th Senate session, extant rules of the upper chamber were not compromised.
According to them: “It should dawn on the party that there is the urgent need to adhere to parliamentary culture already in place in the conduct of the primaries and elections into the National Assembly’s elective positions.
Armed with the ‘red book’, which is the ‘Senate Standing Order’, the senators-elect quoted Order 3, rule 2 of the Senate Standing Order governing the election of Presiding and other Officers, which gives pride of place to ranking of Senators.
The rule states that “nomination of senators to serve as presiding 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 numbers of time re-elected, (ii) Senators who had been members of the House of Representatives and, (iii) Senators elected as senators for the first time.”
The ranking lawmakers pointed out to their colleagues that going by the Order, Senator Ahmed Lawan is the most qualified among the contestants for the Senate Presidency, as he shall conclude a period of 16 years as a legislator at the end of the current Assembly, pointing out that he (Lawan) had spent eight years as a member of the House of Representatives, and another eight years as a senator.
According to them, other aspirants like Senators Bukola Saraki and George Akume would have spent a period of eight years each as a Legislator at the end of the current assembly session.