Senate Defends New Rules for Internal Elections

A session in the Senate

A proposed addition to the senate’s standing rules, which will give the incumbent senate president an edge in the contest for next session’s senate presidency, does not preclude any other aspirant, the senate spokesman, Ayogu Eze has said.

Mr. Eze, who spoke on Thursday in Abuja during a press briefing at the national assembly, said the new addition is meant to fine-tune the existing rules which passively precluded neophyte senators from aspiring to office of presiding offices in the senate.

The proposed rule, which will be adopted by the senate Tuesday next week, will replace rule 97[1][f] of the current standing order of the senate. The section states that nomination of senators to serve as principal officers and chairmen of committees shall be in accordance with ranking of senators in which returning senators will take precedence, but did not categorize the ranks.

The new rule introduces a ranking system which categorizes the ranks through which senators can aspire for prestigious offices in the senate. It ranks experienced lawmakers ahead of first timers without legislative experience, placing the latter last and least eligible to aspire to high offices in the senate.

The new rule, in the race for who heads the next senate, visibly favours the sitting senate president, David Mark and would appear to preclude some of the newly elected senators who reportedly have the ambition to vie for the senate presidency, such as state governors Danjuma Goje and Bukola Saraki.

“Nomination of senators to serve as presiding officers and appointments of principal officers and other officers of the senate or any parliamentary delegations shall be in accordance with the ranking of senators,” the proposed rule states.

Mark rules supreme

Top of the rank are senators returning based on number of times re-elected – this is where the sitting senate president, who has been elected three times belongs. They are followed by senators who had been members of the House of Representatives.

Third by rank are senators who have been members of a State House of assembly or any legislative house. The least in the ranking system are the senators elected as senators for the first time – that is where both Messrs Goje and Saraki belong.

Mr. Eze, a strong promoter of the incumbent’s ambition, argued that the new rule is not targeted at anybody; but is rather meant to protect the integrity of the senate.

“This has nothing to do with David Mark, the incumbent senate president,” he said. “It is about strengthening our institutional structure and integrity. It is about strengthening our democracy.”

Mr. Eze added that Mr Mark is a clear favourite for the office and that “there is no contest for the senate president’s office.”

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