10th Senate As Retirement Haven for 28 Serving and Ex-Governors
Baring any unforeseen circumstances, 14 serving and past governors would join their 14 other colleagues, currently in the 9th Senate, to form a formidable and powerful block in the red chamber when the 10th National Assembly is inaugurated next year. Sunday Aborisade reports
No fewer than 28 serving and former governors have been elected as senatorial candidates at the just concluded primaries of the various political parties ahead of the 2023 National Assembly election.
The new set of senatorial hopefuls who are, currently serving as governors, are: AminuTambuwal (Sokoto), IfeanyiUgwuanyi (Enugu) Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Darius Ishaku (Taraba), Samuel Ortom (Benue), OkezieIkpeazu (Abia), Sani Bello (Niger), Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe), Simon Lalong (Plateau), and AtikuBagudu (Kebbi).
Former governors who are already in possession of senatorial tickets are, AbdulazizYari (Zamfara), Adams Oshiomhole ((Edo), Gbenga Daniel (Ogun), and GodswillAkpabio (AkwaIbom).
The former and serving governors will be joining the serving ones in the 9th Senate who include AliyuWamakko (Sokoto), Sam Egwu (Ebonyi), Orji Kalu (Abia) Gabriel Suswan (Benue), AdamuAliero (Kebbi), Ibrahim Shekarau (Kano), and SaminuTuraki (Jigawa).
Others are: Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa), Ibrahim Gaidam (Yobe), KashimShettima (Borno), DanjumaGoje (Gombe), TankoAlmakura (Nasarawa), ChimarokeNnamani (Enugu), and Kabiru Gaya (Kano).
While some of the serving governors allegedly manipulated the electoral process in their desperate moves to become senators at all cost, one of the former governors currently in the 9th Senate had to defect to another political party when he could not secure the ticket of his party.
Specifically, a former governor of Kebbi State, Aliero, dumped the All Progressives Congress (APC) to pick the Kebbi Central senatorial ticket on the platform of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.
The implication of the situation is that the former governors would constitute about 25 per cent of the 109-member 10th Senate.
The decision of the governors to retire into the red chamber had contributed immensely to the loss of institution memory currently hampering the activities of the apex legislative body in the country as the state chief executives are going there to displace the highly experienced, ranking lawmakers, who are even chairmen of critical committees of the Senate.
In the case of Edo State for instance, the action of Oshiomhole had forced the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Customs and Excise, Francis Alimikhena, to dump the APC for PDP on whose platform he would contest the Edo Senatorial District.
Also in their desperation, Umahi and Akpabio who contested the APC presidential primary election and were humbled by the winner, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, went back to their constituencies to get the senatorial tickets despite the fact that they did not participate in the primaries that had already produced candidates.
The National Chairman of the party, Senator AdamuAbdullahi, however, forwarded Akpabio and Umahi’s names to the Independent National Electoral Commission as the validly elected senatorial candidates respectively.
Some other serving governors who would be going to the 10th Senate as fresh lawmakers are: Tambuwal, Ishaku, Ortom, Ikpeazu, Sani Bello, Danwkambo, Yari, Ugwuanyi, Lalong, and Daniel.
Some of the ranking Senators who would be displaced by their governors have, however, been reacting to the development.
Senator ChukwukaUtazi (Enugu North), said he did not bother himself to obtain the form since his governor had signified interest in the senatorial seat.
In an interview with THISDAY, Utazi expressed concern that new people who would be learning the act of lawmaking, would flood the 10th Senate.
According to him “When the 10th National Assembly is inaugurated, new set of people would be in place. It took me 12 years to make my way to the Senate. The Senate is now a rendezvous of men with deep pockets.
“People who don’t understand anything about the parliament would want to come here as a status symbol.
“I started my parliamentary practice over 30 years ago on the platform of the Social Democratic Party in the House of Representatives. So, I know the act of lawmaking very well. I am a political scientist and a lawyer. I am empowered to know what I am expected to do.
“I am not returning because I did not participate in the primaries. Does it mean that I don’t want to come to the parliament? The answer is No! What is on ground cannot permit me to return. I cannot return because my governor wanted to be here. So, I have to go.
“The longer you stay in the parliament, the more experience you gather. You develop institutional memory to better the lots of the constituents. They’ve taken it as a social symbol. People want to be addressed as Senators.”
Utazi said Nigerians should advocate the issue of independent candidacy to stop the idea of having the wrong persons in parliament.
On his part, the Secretary General of the Campaign for Democracy (CD), IfeanyiOdili, said the loss of institutional memory at the Senate as a result of inexperienced governors going there to take over from the ranking Senators, would not be healthy for Nigeria’s democracy.
Odili said, “When we have 28 serving and former governors going to the Senate to dislodge the experienced lawmakers there, it would automatically lead to brain drain.
“In a situation whereby about 70 per cent of the Senators are fresh lawmakers, they will not understand anything about the business of lawmaking and it is not healthy for our democracy.
“It will be a disservice for the electorate to vote for freshers in place of experienced lawmakers in the National Assembly because there would no doubt be loss of institutional memory which would cause a serious problem for the country.”