By Kabir Akintayo
After the intense political battle of the 2023 general elections, the nation’s attention has now shifted to the National Assembly. With Senate President Ahmad Lawan and Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila apparently out of the race, contenders have begun jostling to replace them.
The National Working Committee (NWC) of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) had reeled out its zoning formula and anointed their preferred candidates for the President and Deputy President of the Senate as well as Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.
At least six senators are running for the seat of the President of the 10th Senate. The contestants are from four of the country’s six geo-political zones: the North-West, South-East, South-South and North-Central.
As we inch towards the transition, the politicking rages on. Opinions and considerations may vary, and the assessment of an individual’s suitability for such a position is subjective and can be influenced by diverse factors, including political affiliations and personal perspectives. But the fact remains that Yari is the best among the hexad.
The choice of the Number 3 citizen should not be compromised at the altar of executive meddlesomeness. Whoever is familiar with National Assembly politics knows that imposition does not stand. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s imposition of Evan Enwerem as President of the Senate did not last more than 5 months.
Jonathan’s attempts to impose Mulikat Adeola-Akande as Speaker of the House failed, due largely to Tinubu’s handiwork as leader of the then opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). Buhari’s attempt to impose Lawan and Gbajabiamila in 2015 also failed. The duo later succeeded in 2019 not because they were imposed but because the lawmakers accepted them.
While not underating the qualification of Godswill Akpabio, Barau Jibrin, Sani Musa and Orji Kalu, Yari’s pedigree in terms of political and administrative experience and capacity displaces that of all the other candidates. Yari, a former party chairman, former House member and ex-Zamfara governor has seen both sides of legislative and executive coins.
Yari’s interest in becoming the next Senate President is a game changer not only in the permutations surrounding the aspiration for the Senate President’s seat but also in the promise of what his leadership of the Senate as number three citizen portends.
Yari, a rounded political heavyweight of character and competence, comes with that promise to give the Senate a purposeful leadership. His political trajectory is replete with notable successes and significant contributions in their respective contexts.
His infrastructural development initiatives in Zamfara including roads, bridges, schools, hospitals and rural electrification were aimed at improving the State’s socio-economic development. He initiated policies that enhanced access to quality education as he established new schools and renovated existing ones. His agricultural programs encouraged drives to boost good production and improve livelihood in rural areas.
Yari’s aspiration reminds me of Thomas P O’Neill who served as Speaker of the United States House of Representative from 1977 to 1987. He was widely respected for his ability to build consensus, negotiate across party lines and pass significant legislation. His leadership style emphasised finding common ground and working collaboratively to achieve legislative goals.
Like O’Neill, Yari is poised to demonstrate exceptional leadership skills in mobilising the country and its legislature to face the challenges of Nigeria’s “Renewed Hope” of the incoming government of Bola Ahmed Tinubu with the aim of bringing about political stability and social transformation.
Ultimately, the decision regarding who becomes the Senate President rests with the legislators themselves and the political dynamics within the legislative body. It involves consultations, negotiations, and voting among the members of the Senate to determine their preferred candidate for the position.
Yari’s experience will help in shaping significant legislation and fostering a more cooperative atmosphere between the executive, judiciary and legislative arms of government. As we root for his emergence, it is certain that Yari as Nigeria’s next Senate President is no doubt a game changer with a midas touch!
Akintayo, a political affairs analyst, writes from Abuja.
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