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Barau Jibrin: The race for Nigeria’s Senate presidency

As Nigeria prepares to elect the leaders of the 10th National Assembly, aspiring candidates have emerged from various geopolitical regions to make their case for…

As Nigeria prepares to elect the leaders of the 10th National Assembly, aspiring candidates have emerged from various geopolitical regions to make their case for why they should be chosen. It is widely believed that the decision on who will become the next senate president will depend largely on the zoning of the office, along with other key positions, by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) leadership. Ahead of the supplementary elections, the APC holds 57 seats, while the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has 29 and the Labour Party has 6. The New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) and the Social Democratic Party each have 2 members, while the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and Young Peoples Progressive Party (YPPP) have only one representative each.

The battle for the upcoming Senate Presidency has attracted a diverse group of politicians from various geopolitical regions, including the incumbent Senate President, Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan from Yobe North. Other contenders include Barau Jibrin from Kano-North, Ali Ndume from Borno South, Godswill Akpabio from Akwa-Ibom North West, Orji Uzoh Kalu from Abia North, and Mohammed Sani Musa from Niger-East.

The emergence of the next Senate President will be influenced by two key factors. The first is the need for adequate representation of all geopolitical zones in the forthcoming Tinubu-Shettima government. The second is the desire to compensate regions that have not previously held the position. Despite being the most reliable political stronghold of the APC and delivering the party’s highest votes in the 2023 presidential elections, only the North-West and South-South regions have yet to produce a Senate President. Therefore, it would be appropriate to consider these two geopolitical zones for the position of the next Senate President, as a matter of fairness and justice.

It is worth noting that Dr. Joseph Wayas, from Obudu in the old Cross River State, served as the President of the Senate during the second republic’s presidential democratic experience from 1979-1983. He performed his duties with distinction during his tenure. Since then, there have been Senate Presidents from the Northern block, including David Mark, Ameh Ebute, Iwaye Iyorcha Ayu, Bukola Saraki, and Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan. Additionally, there have been Senate Presidents from the South-East, such as Adolphus Nduneweh Wabara, Evan Enwerem, Pius Ayim, Chuba Wilberforce Okadigbo, and Ken Nnamani.

The North-West region’s case is particularly noteworthy because they are the backbone of the APC. In the 2023 presidential election, the region contributed a significant 2,652,235 votes out of the total 8,794,726 votes garnered by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Senator Kashim Shettima. It is worth noting that Tinubu obtained over 30% of his total votes from this region alone. As a result, the North-West region deserves to be fairly rewarded in the upcoming government.

The APC’s obligation to compensate the North-West is critical because electoral outcomes are largely determined by numbers, and the ruling party understands this reality. Therefore, they must select candidates from regions where they can confidently secure support. They must engage in strategic political calculations to maximize their advantages in future elections. The APC must carefully consider its electoral future and choices before making this significant decision, as the outcome would have a significant impact on its ability to retain power beyond 2027 or be displaced by opposition parties.

Out of all the leading contenders for the Senate presidency, Senator Barau Jibrin stands out as the most compelling candidate. In addition to being the most experienced lawmaker in the race, he hails from one of the most crucial states for the APC. Kano State is a significant vote bank in Nigeria and proved to be a valuable asset to the ruling party during the presidential election, with only Lagos State surpassing its contribution in terms of votes. Tinubu received an impressive 517,341 votes in Kano State, while his closest rival, Atiku, secured a mere 131,716 votes, and Peter Obi received 28,513 votes. This was achieved despite the presence of Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso from the NNPP, who was committed to preventing the APC from securing a significant number of votes. Given his qualifications and background, Senator Barau Jibrin appears to be the most deserving candidate to represent the North-West region as the next Senate President.

Senator Barau’s triumph in the Kano North senatorial district election, despite the political turbulence caused by the NNPP in the state, serves as evidence of his political credentials. He is the political heavyweight that the APC requires to restore a robust presence in Kano State and the entire North-West region. He won the election by a considerable margin, receiving 234,652 votes and defeating the candidate of Kwankwaso’s New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Abdullahi Baffa, who garnered 177,014 votes.

It is indeed noteworthy that Senator Barau Jibrin has a wealth of experience, having served in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, making him a seasoned legislator with a deep understanding of the workings of the National Assembly. This experience, coupled with his leadership skills and political acumen, places him in a strong position to effectively manage the Senate and navigate the complex political landscape of the country.

Indeed, the APC cannot afford to neglect the North-West, and Kano State in particular, if it wants to remain in power beyond 2027. The party needs to show that it values and rewards loyalty and that it takes the interests of its supporters seriously. Failing to do so could lead to disillusionment and apathy among the party’s base, which could translate to lower voter turnout and loss of crucial votes in future elections.

Senator Barau Jibrin, with his experience, track record, and strong ties to Kano State, could be the ideal candidate to lead the Senate and represent the interests of the North-West region. If the APC wants to consolidate its hold on power and ensure its long-term viability as a political force in Nigeria, it must make strategic and calculated decisions in choosing its leaders and rewarding its supporters.


Ibrahim A. Mshelia, a public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja

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