Thursday, September 29, 2022

2023: See Ex-Governors That May Become “Distinguished Senators”

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The idea of a lifetime of near unbelievable salaries, allowances and privileges are clearly appealing to state governors whose terms are limited to a “mere” 8 years and even that is subject to winning their re-election bid which is not guaranteed as the current governor of Osun State can attest to.

Out of the 109 available seats in the upper chamber (Senate) of the National Assembly, 27 seats may be occupied by former and outgoing governors come June 2023.

If these 27 ex-governors or soon-to-be former governors win their respective senatorial seats in the upcoming election, it will mark a 42% increase from the number of ex-governors, 19 of them in the current senate, making the upper chamber an abode of former “Excellencies.”

Nigeria operates a bicameral legislature — the upper and lower chamber. The upper chamber is referred to as the Senate, while the lower chamber is the House of Representatives. The Senate has 109 members, and the House of Representatives has 360 members.

Unlike the elected executive positions (President and Governor) with a maximum of 2-term constitutional limit, the members of the National Assembly have no term limit. This means that as long as you play your politics well, you can always return to the chamber every four years as a “Distinguished Senator” or an “Honourable Member”.

To date, the exact amount these 469 lawmakers earn is unknown to Nigerians; however, in 2018, Senator Shehu Sani, who represented Kaduna Central Senatorial District in the 8th National Assembly, said that a senator earns N13.5 million monthly as a running cost and an additional N750,000 as consolidated salary and allowances. On the other hand, a house of representatives member is reported to pocket N9.3 million monthly.

This, alongside the allure of staying within the loop of power, might account for the number of former “Excellencies” turning to “Distinguished Senators” on the rise with each election cycle since 2007

In the 6th Assembly (2007-2011), 8 former governors made the Senate their home.

These 8 individuals joined the Senate immediately after they completed their 2-term constitutional limit as governors, except for Kabiru Gaya who served as a governor of Kano state from 1992-1993, about 1 year.

The next Assembly (2011-2015) saw an increase in the number of those who have served as governors going to the Senate. This time, the number increased to 9. Ahmed Aliero and 4 others who served in the 6th Assembly retained their seats, while Abdullahi Adamu, Bukola Saraki, and 2 others joined them as first-time Senators.

In the 8th National Assembly, the number increased to 13, a 44% increase from the figure recorded in the 7th Assembly, possibly signalling increasing interest in the Senate.

George Akume, who went to the Senate House immediately after he completed his 8 years as Governor of Benue state (1999-2007), retained his seat as a third-term Senator. Same as Kabiru Gaya of Kano state.

Adamu, Saraki, Goje, Dariye, and Yarima, who all served their 2-terms as governors of their respective states, returned to the Senate for their second term. Others on the list were first-time Senators.

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