17 former governors,3 ex deputy governors set to converge on the chamber from June. Six outgoing governors who will be heading to the ninth Senate would be joined by 11 former governors and three former deputy governors.
The six incumbent governors who are incoming senators include Senator Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State who was a member of the sixth Senate; Chief Rochas Okorocha of Imo State; Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe State, one of the longest serving chief executives in this dispensation; Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima; Governor Abdulazeez Yari of Zamfara State and Governor Tanko Al- Makura of Nasarawa State.
Former governors who are heading to the Senate include Senator Sam Egwu, an incumbent senator who was a governor of Ebonyi State; former governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, who won the Abia North Senatorial seat; his successor in Abia who is also a serving senator, Theodore Orji, another senator of the 6th Senate, Dr Chimaroke Nnamani who was governor of Enugu State; incumbent Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, and former Governor of Gombe State, Senator Danjuma Goje; his counterpart from Kebbi State, who is also a serving Senator, Adamu Aliero as well as Third Republic governor of Kano state and a serving senator, Kabiru Gaya; another Governor of Kano State, Ibrahim Shekarau; former Nasarawa State governor, who is also a member of the outgoing Senate, Abdullahi Adamu ; another former member of the House and former governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, a first term senator as well as the former governor of Sokoto State, who currently serves as a senator in the 8th Senate, Aliyu Wamakko.
Also heading to the ninth Senate is a former deputy governor of Abia State, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe. Abaribe, currently Chairman, Senate Committee on Power, Metarllurgy and Steel Development, would be coming to the Senate for the fourth term. He would be joined by another former deputy governor of Akwa Ibom State, Chris Ekpenyong, as well as the deputy governor of Jigawa State, Ibrahim Hadejia.
With the array of power brokers that will be on parade in the ninth Senate, the lawmakers and the political parties would have to adopt strict caution in picking the presiding officers. There are bound to be caucuses other than the formal caucuses that would be recognised on the floor. And any error in picking the chamber’s leaders would easily dovetail into the emergence of the proverbial “axis of evil.”
And with the ruling APC already emerging with a majority of the seats in the 109 Senate, it has to employ wisdom and diplomacy in sorting the leadership issues in the Senate. Strict zoning might create immediate crisis owing to the fact that a number of senators who are returning to the chamber had, earlier in the eighth Senate, shown interest in the Senate Presidency.
There is the incumbent Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, who was endorsed in 2015 in a rancorous primary process by the party and eventually lost it to Senator Saraki. There is also Senator Abdullahi from Nasarawa, a former governor who could leverage on the support of his former colleagues, 17 of whom are now poised to hit the chamber. There is also Senator Danjuma Goje, chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, who is also a former governor of Gombe State. Goje and Senator Lawan are from the North-East, while Abdullahi is from the North-Central.
Aside the three, other senators who could lay claim to leadership positions in the Senate that would emerge in June include Senator Ibikunle Amosun, who was first elected into the Senate in 2003, Senators Oluremi Tinubu, Solomon Adeola and a former Senate Leader, Teslim Folarin, who won his Oyo Central Senate District seat. Senator Fatai Buhari (APC Oyo North) is also a ranking senator, who could vie for positions that would be open to ranking lawmakers from the South-West and leverage on the support of his governor colleagues, whose rank is consistently growing in the Red Chamber.
For APC, which is set to emerge with majority seats in the ninth Senate, caution and strict political calculations, as well as openness by the party leaders to the lawmakers, would guard it against the sort of embarrassment it suffered in 2015. But then, any attempt to over-regulate the process of emergence of the new Senate leadership stands being resisted by the men of power, who are in their numbers in the emerging Red Chamber.