The Next Senate President: The Cap Best Fits George Akume, By David Maisamari
As the race for the Senate Presidency and Chairmanship of the 8th National Assembly heats up, Distinguished Senator George Akume easily stands head and shoulders above other gladiators in the fray. He is by far one of the most experienced senators that would grace the chambers of the 8th Senate. A third-term senator, having first been elected to the Senate in 2007, he has the requisite legislative experience and leadership acumen that very few can match in the Red Chamber of the National Assembly.
The distinguished senator has acquited himself very well in his role as the Senate Minority Leader the past four years. He has with characteristic firmness, vigour, tact and maturity, kept the PDP-led leadership of the Senate on its toes thereby ensuring that the voice of the progressives is always heard and taken into account in the legislative business of the Senate.
He is a bridge builder whose maturity, humility and astute leadership qualities will ensure the stability of the 8th Senate. A sociologist by training and an expert in Labour Relations, he is gifted in the art of people management and has over the years built strong allainces across the country. These are qualities that a successful senate president cannot afford not to possess.
Senator Akume’s executive experience as governor of Benue State for eight years has fully equiped him to manage the often acrimonous relationship between the executive and the legislature arms of goverment to ensure a progressive relationship between the National Assembly and the Presidency thus ensuriing a smooth delivery of the change Nigerians voted the APC to deliver.
Although the distinguished senator has not openly declared his interest to occupy the exalted office of the Senate President, were he to ascent to the fourth highest office in the land, this will undoubtedly win the support of the people of the Middle Belt (especially northern Christians) for Buhari’s national developmental programmes.
After the APC emerged as a vibrant opposition party, it had to overcome many huddles and booby traps laid in the path to its preeminence. Indeed, in the early days of the merger that gave birth to the new party, it was labelled by its detractors as an Islamists’ party. This label was hard to shake off and for some time threatened to affect the party’s acceptance by Christians especially those of northern extraction who had, in the 2011 presidential elections, voted massively for President Jonathan.
Even after the party made strategic adjustments to nullify this threat, there were still doubts about whether or not northern Christians, who so often lost out in the power equation of the North, would support the APC. It took the herculean effort of notable northern Christian APC leaders such as Sen. George Akume, Chief Audu Ogbe, Bar. Solomon Dalung, Aminchi Habu et al to reassure the northern Christian bloc that APC is indeed a pan-Nigerian party that seeks to better their lot.
The import of this reproachment between the APC and the northern Christian bloc can best be appreciated by the massive votes the latter delivered to the party at the just-concluded general elections. States that were normally PDP strongholds (Benue, Kogi and Plateau) fell to the APC.
Most of the credit for this feat deservedly goes to the distinguished Senate Minority Leader, George Akume. It was his vigorous campaign to sell the APC to his kith and kin in the North Central, especially in Benue State, that, more than anything else, earned his party the massive support it received from that region.
It is very clear that as far as the next Senate Presidency goes, the cap best fits Distinguished Senator George Akume. With him at the steering wheel, all well-meaning Nigerians should expect to see a stable, progressive 8th Senate that will work with the Buhari administration to deliver the change most Nigerians so strongly desire.