As the clock ticks towards D-Day of Inauguration of the 10th Assembly, it is becoming more clearer that most senators-elect of the109-member Red Chamber are not in the mood to share corruption load with any of the Senate President aspirants awaiting various corruption charges in court of before the anti-graft agencies.
The Senators do not want to be perceived as corroborators and accessories to corruption or to be used as rubber stamp by the Executive arm; they want to demonstrate their readiness to function altruistically and patriotically as bulwarks of the nation’s democratic system and a credible check on the other arms of government.
The race for Senate Presidency seems going down the wire with the pendulum changing dramatically by the day. Recent permutations have shown to be favourably disposed to the direction of Senator Osita Izunaso, senator representing Orlu senatorial district to be the next President of the Senate.
Senator Izunaso was adjudged to possess the requisite experience and political dexterity to steer the affairs of the Senate, unlike other contenders, Akpabio, Kalu and Yari, Sen. Osita Izunaso comes with a clean record, without any fraud or criminal awry attached to his name. He was xrayed as an urbane and gentlemanly political chess player who diligently does quietly more without noise making.
Major reason for the latest development according to the survey are direct fallouts of increasing concerns by elected senators, top echelons of the party leadership and strategic stakeholders over the weight of “excess corruption baggage” on the shoulders of Godswill Akpabio, a development which has increasingly become a serious source of worry and concern to observers and camp of the new President Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Izunaso perhaps, has the best and most robust understanding of the National Assembly having served as an aide presiding officers of the Senate and House of Reps before being elected into both the green and red chambers.
The Imo West Senator-elect according records has paid his dues in APC as a core party man. He was strong and active in the merger committee that midwived the APC in 2013 and became the founding National Organising Secretary of the new party, a position he held for about five years during which he built a formidable political network.
The fact that his home State, Imo is one of the two APC-controlled states among the 5 in the Southeast zone is a major advantage for him and the APC. This is an evident edge over Akpabio, Yari and Kalu whose states are under the grips of the opposition PDP and the Labour Party respectively.
Akpabio’s records as governor of Akwa Ibom State between 2007 and 2015 and Minister of Niger Delta Affairs from 2019 to 2022 reeks of massive corruption allegations and sundry controversies which have made him a hard sell for the Senate Presidency position.
Beyond the angst of the distinguished senators, barrage of criticisms, anger and protestations have trailed the wider society, they are equally not taking lightly the rumoured of alleged attempt to foist Akpabio on the country as Senate President.
Sources close to Abdullahi Adamu-led NWC of APC disclosed that their initial optimism about Akpabio had waxed totally in the face of damning revelations and allegations of past misdeeds against him. The development is said to have nudged them into casting their dragnets wider for a better suitable candidate for the plum Senate Presidency position.
The 10th National Assembly needs reformist leaders who will end spending incongruity in the chambers by cutting down its expenditure in the interest of Nigerians; new leaders courageous enough to end cold-blooded payments to lawmakers; reformists that will ensure that all outflows to the legislators are transparent. Our dear legislators must be subjected to prevailing relities in an era of economic depression in Nigeria. In electing the President of the Senate, competence, character and integrity are vital, Nigerians need to start having trust in the National Assembly.
Akpabio’s tenure as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs exposed was disastrous, following the manner he wobbled up as a governor, a senator and then as minister. This is confirms in his volte-face in the House of Representatives’ probe 2022 over his earlier allegation that lawmakers got 60 percent of the contracts awarded by the Niger Delta Development Commission, haven made the claim on national television but soon after turned around to deny it when he was told to provide the evident list of the profiting lawmakers. Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila scornfully read Akpabio’s response, which came after he threatened to sue the minister for failing to prove that NDDC awarded contracts to them. He went back crawling to the lawmakers, saying he referred to old contracts awarded by the NDDC which had not been paid for, and some of which were part of the constituency projects of the lawmakers.
It is pertinent to rebrand the red chamber. It needs massive transformation and urgently desires a President that will lead it to fulfill the yearnings of Nigerians for a better country. The Senate needs a crusader to pilot their activities in the next dispensation. The era of cash-guzzling and rubber-stamp National Assembly must end. Akpabio lacks the capacity to lead this crusade.
The outgoing Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ahmed Wase, was apt when he urged members not to allow the parliament to be disgraced by allowing a charlatan to head the 10th Assembly. Wase added: “We will not allow this parliament to be hijacked. We will not allow this parliament to be made a lame duck. I believe we are loyal to our country first, loyal to our party, loyal to our people. This place is very sacred. It is honourable and that is why we are called honourable members. We must be honourable in our dealings, actions, and activities in defence of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Wase submitted that Integrity, capacity and ability to reform the National Assembly should be vital in filling key positions in the National Assembly. This is the only way forward for Nigeria.
In a SWOT analysis by conducted by APC NewsOnline, Osita Izunaso was picked ahead of Akpabio and Orji Kalu for the Senate Presidency due to his personal integrity, discipline and relevant experience.
The sources hinted that all relevant indices seem to be pointing in the direction of Senator Osita Izunaso representing Imo West (Orlu) senatorial district as the safest and most reliable choice for the Senate Presidency. He towers above Akpabio, Orji Kalu and other contenders in terms of credibility, experience, competence, party loyalty and reliability.