Deputy Senate President: Who does the cap fit from South-West?

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Based on ongoing permutations, individuals and groups from the South-West are making deft moves to ensure that the South-West produces the next Deputy Senate President, writes KUNLE ODEREMI

THOUGH the All Progressives Congress (APC) is yet to enunciate its power sharing formula for key positions in the next National assembly, it is obvious that the South-West has a limited choice on which of the offices of the principal officers it can contend for. It is hamstrung by a number of political factors, including the configuration at the level of the executive arm of government.

With Professor Yemi Osinbajo as vice-president for another four years, the zone is technically knocked out of the race for the post of Senate President.

Another factor that weighs against the zone is the quest by some influential caucuses to produce the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Ninth National Assembly. Those forces are said to be working assiduously to make Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila realise his ambition of becoming Speaker four years after a powerful bloc in APC lost out in the battle for supremacy. So, the zone cannot produce those two strategic principal officers of the National Assembly particular based on political expediency.

Equally at play in the ongoing horse-trading and gerrymandering as the APC plans to latch onto its majority of 65 senators to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)s 35 senators in the next Senate is the sustained intense political rivalry among power blocs in the APC South-West leadership. For the want of a better description, some observers have categorised those involved in the power tussle as the Abuja versus home-based politicians. Members of each caucus are already on the field through proxies in the quest to rally support for a senator-elect from the zone becoming the next Deputy President of the Senate. On the card for consideration are both current Senators from the zone, who got reelected as well as former members of the Upper Chamber that were returning to the Senate. In the coming weeks, such factors as the status of the senators-elect in terms of if they fall within those categorised as ranking senators; gender issue; micro-zoning, external interest could become more pronounced as the coast gets clearer.

The list of the APC Senators-elect from the zone include: Adetunmbi Olubunmi Ayodeji (APC) Ekiti North; Bamidele Michael Opeyemi (APC) Ekiti Central and Prince Adeyeye Clement Adebayo (APC) Ekiti South. The ones from Lagos State are Senator Remi Tinubu (APC) Lagos Central;. Osinowo Sikiru Adebayo (APC) Lagos East and Senator Adeola Soloman Olamilekan (APC) Lagos West. The outgoing governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun (APC) Ogun Central; Chief Mustapha Ramoni Olalekan (APC) Ogun East and Odebiyi Tolulope Akinremi (APC) Ogun West are from the state; Professor (Senator) Boroffice Robert Ajayi (APC) Ondo North; Chief Akinyelure Patrick Ayo (PDP) Ondo Central. For Osun State, the names are Surajudeen Ajibola Basiru (APC) Osun Central and Oriolowo Adelere Adeyemi (APC) Osun West. The Senator-elect for Oyo State are Senator Folarin Teslim Kolawole (APC) Oyo Central and Senator Buhari Abdulfatai (APC) Oyo North.

Abdulfatai Buhari

Senator Abdulfatai Buhari is the chairman at ICT & Cyber Crime Committee (Senate) from June 2015 till date and vice-Chairman at Industry Committee (Senate) since June 2015. His areas of legislative interests are appropriation, petroleum, navy and transport. He is regarded as one the arch supporters of President Muhammadu Buhari from the South-West and even in the Senate. He is believed to be an influential member of the APC caucus in the Senate that continuously backed the presidency at different times during faceoff with some principal officers of the National Assembly leadership. He was credited with the good showing of the president in Oyo North especially, during the 2019 election. Described as a bridge builder having made friends across political divides in the six geopolitical of the country, the strong bargaining chip of Buhari is the fact that he is a ranking senator with vast experience in diverse fields of human endeavours. But some pundits claim his major challenge in bid by the South-West to have one of its own as Deputy Senate President would be how to rally the support of APC leaders in the state who still seem to owe allegiance to certain principals. So, there could be a playback of the political intrigues that dogged initial touted governorship aspiration at the buildup to the 2019 general election in the Oyo APC chapter.

Teslim Folarin

Senator Folarin is returning to Senate with a wealth of experience, having won the senatorial seat to represent Oyo Central in 2003 at the age of 39 years on the platform of the PDP. He secured a second term in 2007, also on the PDP ticket. With a third term advantage, on the platform of the APC, having defeated Senator Monsurat Sunmonu (ADC) and Chief Oyebisi Ilaka (PDP), Folarin, during his earlier sojourn in the Upper Chamber, was the Leader of the Senate. He served on the Senate Committee on Business & Rules, Marines and Transport although his particular interests were in education, power supply and water resources.

Folarin was involved in the Power probe in 2008. As the Leader of the Senate, he led debates on all Executives Bills and sponsored several Private Bills himself. These included the Insurance Act, Armed Forces Pension Act and several others. Folarin was the PDP gubernatorial candidate in 2015 but lost to outgoing Governor Senator Abiola Ajimobi of the APC. He joined the APC in December 2017.

Ibikunle Amosun

Ibikunle Amosun emerged senator for the Ogun Central district for the first time in April 2003. He upped his political ambition in April 2007 when he made an unsuccessful bid to be elected governor. But that desire materialsed when he was elected for a four-year first tenure in 2011, having won at the poll on the ticket of the defunct the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), which collapsed into the APC in February 2013. He was re-elected for a second term in office on 11 April 2015 and duly sworn- in on 29 May 2015. He will be completing his second term on May 29.

Though not much attention is currently being paid to him by other rival interests in the politics of the South-West, pundits claim Amosun could be the joker of a coalition of very powerful caucus, with the undisguised support of the Establishment. He is generated rated high because of his diverse experience in governance and legislative matters, having served in the capacity of senator and then governor and now a senator-elect.

Some keen observers also identify his capacity to have tactically managed the politics of Ogun State before, during and after the general election, noting that this attests to his pedigree, sagacity and drive as a politician and strategist. All these factors are considered by his associates, admirers and friends to have taken the hitherto new political party, the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) to the nations main political space, culminating in the spectacular showing of the party in the general election.

One other factor many pundits claim that puts Amosun on a firm pedestal is his intimate relationship with the seat of power at the centre. The political tie between him and President Buhari and many other power-brokers predates the existing political dispensation and was buoyed over the years because of his unconcealed allegiance, trust and commitment to shared ideals with the Establishment. He could emerge as the anointed candidate of the power brokers in the unending battle to alter the power equation in the South-West.

Senator Tinubu

Senator Oluremi Tinubu is a former first Lady of Lagos State and currently a Senator representing Lagos Central Senatorial District with her areas of legislative interests including education, marine transport, works and infrastructure, trade and investment, employment, labour and productivity to name a few. She listed her targets as lawmaker to include promotion of bills that would accord Lagos State a special status, promote welfare of women and childrens rights and alleviate poverty.

Her successes at the poll lend credence to the feeling that the women equally have the capacity to make useful impact in the political space.

Her main obstacle could be about the state he hails from. It is unthinkable that other states in the zone and power blocs in other parts of the country will want Lagos to produce both Speaker of the House and Deputy Senate President. Coupled with this is the patrilineal nature of Nigerian politics as well as chauvinism.

More importantly, she must be ready for an epic battle because of the bitter political rivalry and supremacy war between the loyalists of her husband and strong members of the opposition that dumped the APC due to irreconcilable differences.

On her reelection. Senator Tinubu advocated that women rally round their womenfolk so that they could get better deal in the next political dispensation. Her words: Wherever God has placed you, the next woman on the street is your sister, is your daughter, is your mother. One is speaking but you are speaking for all. The men have to trust us to do that, especially the APC-led administration. As it is, women have not been given their fair share and to be the first leader to be reelected for a third term consecutively, the first woman in Nigeria, I think they have to consider what they would give to the woman. I believe that I have represented the women folk for over 20 years and they can trust me, my office would be open and then we can move the agenda of the women further and Im looking forward to that.

Senator Ajayi Boroffice

Professor Boroffice was first elected Senator for Ondo North in 2011 on the ticket of Labour Party but he later defected to the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in his bid to become the Ondo State governor. He also sought the ticket of the APC for the same office at a time. He is the current chairman at Science & Technology Committee (Senate) from June 2015. Reviewing his tenure in eight years as senator, he was quoted to have said: I think whoever says that has not been honest and fair, we have had five senators before me, and there is nothing they can point to that they brought to Ondo State. I can tell you that in Ondo North I have done numerous things.

An erudite scholar, Boroffice is another staunch supporter of President Buhari. He was the South-West Coordinator for one of the major pro-Buhari/Osinbajo campaign organisations. However, the cold war in Ondo State chapter of APC could have serious implications in the calculations of some observers in the quest by the zone to produce a deputy senate president.

The zone cannot solely determine who becomes Senate Deputy President. The leaders of APC and the contenders will still have to form powerful lobby groups to sway other influential caucuses in the National Assembly and across the zone. Then, who does the odd favour?

More importantly, she must be ready for an epic battle because of the bitter political rivalry and supremacy war between the loyalists of her husband and strong members of the opposition that dumped the APC due to irreconcilable differences.

On her reelection. Senator Tinubu advocated that women rally round their womenfolk so that they could get better deal in the next political dispensation. Her words: Wherever God has placed you, the next woman on the street is your sister, is your daughter, is your mother. One is speaking but you are speaking for all. The men have to trust us to do that, especially the APC-led administration. As it is, women have not been given their fair share and to be the first leader to be reelected for a third term consecutively, the first woman in Nigeria, I think they have to consider what they would give to the woman. I believe that I have represented the women folk for over 20 years and they can trust me, my office would be open and then we can move the agenda of the women further and Im looking forward to that.

Senator Ajayi Boroffice

Professor Boroffice was first elected Senator for Ondo North in 2011 on the ticket of Labour Party but he later defected to the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in his bid to become the Ondo State governor. He also sought the ticket of the APC for the same office at a time. He is the current chairman at Science & Technology Committee (Senate) from June 2015. Reviewing his tenure in eight years as senator, he was quoted to have said: I think whoever says that has not been honest and fair, we have had five senators before me, and there is nothing they can point to that they brought to Ondo State. I can tell you that in Ondo North I have done numerous things.

An erudite scholar, Boroffice is another staunch supporter of President Buhari. He was the South-West Coordinator for one of the major pro-Buhari/Osinbajo campaign organisations. However, the cold war in Ondo State chapter of APC could have serious implications in the calculations of some observers in the quest by the zone to produce a deputy senate president.

The zone cannot solely determine who becomes Senate Deputy President. The leaders of APC and the contenders will still have to form powerful lobby groups to sway other influential caucuses in the National Assembly and across the zone. Then, who does the odd favour?

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