Senate Presidency: Intrigues, From Enwerem To Saraki

Leaders of Nigeria’s most distinguished Club of 109 are men and women who have played politics to the extreme as was seen yesterday. The , Senator Evan(s) Enwerem emerged under the same controversial circumstances as Senator Bukola Saraki did yesterday.

Enwerem became Senate against the desire of the majority of his party members in the , , who in a straw poll had chosen Senator Chuba Okadigbo. Okadigbo had days after his emergence as senator-elect traversed the country visiting every senator-elect to canvass support for his ambition to be Senate President.

But days before the leadership contest, moved against him and used the minority parties, the Alliance for Democracy, AD, All Peoples Party, APP and a sprinkling of PDP senators.

In the end, Enwerem triumphed principally because Obasanjo backed him against the desire of the majority of PDP senators. Only yesterday, President Muhammadu who had vowed not to follow the same path refused to interfere and despite pressures stood his ground.

A last-minute move to force him into action after the PDP endorsed the All Progressives Congress, rebel candidate, Saraki was unsuccessful as the rebels refused to come for the meeting insisting that the president did not call the meeting.

Enwerem’s stay in office was for barely five months before his removal by a majority of senators in November, 1999. That was the only one of two successful impeachment moves against any principal official of the Senate in the Fourth Republic. It happened on the day that his backer, President Obasanjo jetted out of the country. And in came Okadigbo, who was himself removed in July, 2000.

Okadigbo’s era had its full surfeit of parliamentary drama. Anyim Pius Anyim, who succeeded him, led a Senate that moved from subservience to Obasanjo to a senate that tackled the president and almost impeached him. Having handled the tail of a lion, Anyim in his valedictory address as the life of the Senate came to an end said he was leaving the PDP.

After Anyim, a dutiful Obasanjo protégée in the person of Adolphus Wabara emerged. The gist around was that Wabara became Senate President even before his election as a senator was confirmed. The Wabara Senate wisely shied away from the indiscriminate scrutiny of the administration as Obasanjo had warned.
But when Wabara supposedly toyed with the idea of becoming the first Igbo President, his end came quickly.

His quick end was expedited by the disproportionate sharing of Senate funds which led senators to rebel against him leading to his forced resignation in April 2005 after he was indicted in the Education Bribe for Budget scam.

Senator Ken Nnamani, who replaced him as Senate President, perhaps led the most stable Senate of the era and when the life of the came to an end it was no surprise he was severally cited as a candidate for vice-president.

emerged as the President of the Sixth Senate and became the first and only person so far to complete a four-year term as Senate President.

He repeated the same feat in the Seventh Senate whose term came to an end last week. He was in good position to retain the same position but for the humiliation his PDP suffered in the polls last March.

Senator Mark’s endurance some claimed was largely because he avoided the banana peel of disproportionate sharing of funds that fell many of his predecessors. Mischief makers allege that he was in fact the one who put those banana peels!

Past Senate Presidents

Evan Enwerem 1999—1999
Chuba Okadigbo 1999—2000
Pius Anyim 2000—2003
Adolphus Wabara 2003—2005
Ken Nnamani 2005—2007
David Mark 2007—2015

Written By Emmanuel Aziken, a political editor for Vanguard Newspaper

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