The stakes for the Senate Presidency in the 10th National Assembly got higher Wednesday with Senator Jibrin Barau (APC, Kano North) declaring his bid for the Senate’s top job.
The lawmaker prided himself as the most ranking and experienced senator among those vying for the top seat.
He made the declaration in Abuja while addressing journalists at the Senate wing of the National Assembly before plenary.
The lawmaker said he would officially begin his campaign for the number one seat in the Senate in a few days.
He said sentiments of whatever form should not be used to consider any interested senator for the position.
Rather, he said, competence and knowledge on parliamentary procedures should be major criteria.
“I intend to seek to be the President of the 10th Senate. In the next few days, I will start my campaign and make a formal declaration. Legislature is a distinct arm of government that doesn’t work based on sentiments, it works on your ability to get the job done.
“It is the tradition all over the world and it is also stated there in our rule book and the rules are drafted from our constitutions”, he said.
Barau who has been in the National Assembly since 1999, and Senate since 2015, explained that the Senate standing rules give credence to seniority and experience as far as position of presiding officers are concerned.
He said: “It is stated there in our standing rules that aspirations of elections for the seat of the Senate Presidency shall be in accordance with ranking.
“Among those who are running for the seat of the Senate Presidency, I am the most ranked senator.
“So, it’s constitutional and among those who are showing their intentions to run for the Senate Presidency, I am the most experienced.
“The issue is that of competence. You need to be grounded, in the residue of the legislature before you become the Senate Presidency.”
“In the 6th National Assembly, remember that David Mark was a Christian, his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu was a Christian and the Speaker Patricia Etteh was a Christian because they were the most experienced and ranking and that is the tradition. So, do we now relegate competence for other sentiments,” he asked.
Also announcing his bid for the job, Senator-elect and Ebonyi state Governor David Umahi, urged the Senate to set aside its rules to allow for competent leadership.
He also urged the presidential candidate of Labor Party, Mr Peter Obi and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to drop every litigation process and support the incoming APC-led government to rebuild Nigeria.
Umahi will be joining Barau, former Abia state Governor Uzor Kalu(APC Abia) and Senator Musa Sani (APC Niger) who had indicated their interests at different times to occupy the seat.
While Kalu and Umahi are from the Southeast, the duo of Barau and Sani are from the Northwest and Northcentral respectively.
Addressing journalists in Abakalilki, Governor Umahi, who will be going to the Senate for the first time, asked the red chamber to set aside its rules to allow for credible leadership.
He said: “In the next few days, we will have a test flight at the airport. We have invited Mr. President for the commissioning.
“Today, we will also name one of the most complex bridges at Edda after President Goodluck Jonathan which President Buhari will also be commissioning.
“Let me officially congratulate the President-Elect and the Vice President-Elect His Excellency Asiwaju Tinubu and Kashim Shettima for a very glorious and miraculous victory.
“I plead with Nigerians especially those who contested with them our dear brother Peter Obi and the former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar to embrace the path of peace, and accept victory because nothing can be except God says so.
“Victory of Shettima and Asiwaju came from God and since they(Obi and Atiku) believe in God, they should please join hands with Asiwaju to rebuild the nation Nigeria and reunite our people.
“Let us not waste time in litigation, the works at hand are so much and it is a time for the leaders of this country to come together and give back to the society, the children and the children unborn, a future.”
On the election of new leadership for the state, he said: “Let me thank the Governor-elect and Vice-Governor elect, Rt. Hon. Ogbonna Nwifuru and Princess Patricia Obila.
“I want to assure Ebonyians that they will not disappoint you. The Governor-elect has been with us for the past 16 years. He understands the pains of our people, he understands the task that is ahead of him, he understands where we would have stopped and I can assure Ebonyians that he is going to carry on very well.”
On his bid for Senate’s plum job, the governor said: “Let me also plead and request the leadership of APC and the President and Vice President-elect to please for the sake of equity, justice, and fairness zone the Senate Presidency to Southeast and the Speaker for the House of Representatives to the Northwest. This is for inclusiveness and this will assure Nigerians that we are on the path for a total reunion.
“I’m asking the Senate, and National Assembly to set aside the rules so that we can get the best for the leadership of the Assembly. The APC family zoned the Senate Presidency to the Southeast, I’m indicating interest on the platform that I have been in public service for the past 16 years, so you can rightly say that I understand administration.
“When you have administered a state that is more complex other than that of the Presidency, I want to put myself forward and I want to plead with NASS to amend the rule.