The horse trading for the top positions in the 8th session of the Senate, which is to be to be inaugurated on Thursday, June 4, 2015 has continued with the emergence of former Zamfara State governor, Ahmed Sani Yerima, as the likely next Senate Majority Leader.
This is the outcome of a meeting of a caucus of Northwest Senators in Abuja during which the issue of leadership of the next Senate was thoroughly discussed. With a total of 21 Senators, the Northwest enjoys an advantage against its only challenger for the position, the Southwest, which has 18 senators made up of 13 All Progressive Congress (APC) Senators and five from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
According to the Guardian, Senators were said to have argued in favour of having the most ranking among them to become the Senate Majority leader in strict compliance with Senate ranking rule which dictated that election of persons into positions of Senate leadership should be based on the order of ranking. Members of the caucus were also said to have resolved to reach out to Senators and Senators-elect from other zones for support.
Yerima was first elected into the Senate in 2007 and since then he had remained a principal officer. In his first term, he was elected Minority Whip and in 2011, he became the Deputy Minority Leader.
The Senate Majority leader plays key roles in the workings of the Upper Legislative Chamber and the Senate Standing Rule in its section 28 simply made the Majority Leader the manager of Senate businesses.
Presently, the crisis generated by the struggle for power in the leadership of the next Senate seems to be over with a decision by the APC leadership to push the Senate President slot to the North East and that of the Senate Deputy President to the North Central.
However the caucus of the Southwest in the Senate, which is also seeking to produce the next Senate Leader, has continued it’s quiet lobby among various stakeholders.
The failure of the APC to produce ranking Senator from the Southeast and South-South zones has restricted the election of persons to position of leadership in the next Senate to only four zones of Northwest, Northeast, North-Central and Southwest.
The fact that the Southwest had produced the Vice-President and has been positioned to take the position of the House of Representatives’ Speaker has been a major threat to its quest to getting another key position.
Baring any last minute change in the arrangement, the Northwest would take the position of Senate Majority Leader in addition to the position of the President while the Southwest would take the position of Speaker in addition to the position of Vice-President. The Northeast and North-Central would take the positions of the Senate President and Deputy President respectively.