By Emmanuel Suji, Abuja.
Intense power struggle has begun among senators over leadership positions in the next National Assembly with some senators insisting that its current rule on ranking will apply strictly for anyone senator elect that is interested in leadership position.
The scramble for leadership positions in the upper legislative chamber is coming ahead of inauguration of the 8th National Assembly on June 4.
Although there is no official statement yet from any returning senator declaring his or her intention to contest for any leadership position.
But, some senators who confided in our correspondent revealed that some new senators are already scheming and lobbying party elders to be elected as principal officers when the new senate is inaugurated in less than two months from now.
The current Senate Standing Orders (2011, as amended), emphasize cognate experience for any senator aspiring to leadership position.
However, it stipulates that a senator who has been elected and is re-elected into the chamber has preference over a House member who is newly elected into the chamber.
Chapter II (2) of the Senate rules specifically removes any ambiguity about the status of Senators in the chamber. Rule 2, with the headline: Election of presiding and other officers states that in determining ranking, “the following order shall apply: (i) Senators returning based on number of times re-elected; (II) Senators who had been members of the House of Representatives; (iii) Senators elected as Senators for the first time.”
Based on this ranking rule, only Senators who have been returned based on the number of times re-elected are expected to form the nuclei of the leadership.
However, our correspondent gathered that some new senators are planning for the suspension of standing rules on the day of inauguration.
With a simple majority in the chamber, lawmakers of the All Progressives Congress (APC) are expected to fill these positions: Senate President; Deputy Senate President; Senate Majority Leader; Chief Whip; Deputy Majority Leader and Deputy Chief Whip.
Flowing from this arrangement, the North Central and the North East are angling for the Senate President slot while the Deputy Senate President slot is expected to be filled by the South west.
The South south and the South east slot in the leadership is still empty as there is no ranking Senator from both zones presently.