In every country where democracy is practiced, the legislature is one of the important branches of the government. Others are the executive and the judiciary. In Nigeria, the legislature is called the National Assembly which is divided into two – The Senate and the House of Representatives.
It’s imperative to point out that the composition of the legislature varies from country to country. Some countries provide for a single house while some others provide for two houses of legislature. The single legislature is called unicameral while the two houses of the legislature is known as bicameral.
In Nigeria’s situation, it is bicameralism (two houses of legislature). The Senate is also called the Upper Legislative Chamber and it’s headed by a Senate President.
Powers of the Senate President
In order of political hierarchy in Nigeria, the Senate President is the number three most powerful political officeholder, which means in a situation whereby the president and the vice president are concurrently absent, the Senate President can step in as the acting president like in the case of Nwafor Orizu in the 1960s
In a situation whereby both houses (house of reps and senate) hold a joint session, the Senate President presides over the meeting.
Senate President in Nigeria, like others around the world, has so much power while playing his lawmaking role that he could bring the president of the federal republic of Nigeria unto his knees.
Nigeria witnessed the core power of the president of the senate between 2015 to 2019 when Senator Bukola Saraki was the Commander-In-Chief of the Upper Legislative Chamber of the 8th National Assembly.
He made sure that budgets of the Executive were properly scrutinized such that President Muhammadu Buhari and his party loyalists claimed that his action “jeopardised” dividends of democracy the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) would have delivered to the Nigerian people.
Process of Electing Senate President in Nigeria
Nigeria has 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Each of the 36 states in Nigeria is represented by three senators while one represents the FCT. As such, Nigeria and its National Assembly has 109 senators.
The party with the majority produces the President of the Senate after much politicking and political calculation and strategic geometric by political stakeholders within the party with the majority in the Upper Legislative Chamber.
Even within the party that produced the highest number of senators, the party members meet to share major offices of the senate using the six geopolitical zones in the country for equity purposes or to limit the level of lopsidedness in the leadership of the Senate.
Oppositions within the “ruling party” are usually pacified with juicy committees or some undisclosed and unofficial monetary compensation simply to allow the consensus candidate to emerge as the Senate president.
In fact, the post of Nigeria’s president of Senate is also highly politicised that they embark on another campaign after winning their senatorial district election. Political onlookers and analysts saw this played out before the emergence of Ahmad Lawal on June 11, 2019, as the head of the senate.
Lawan, one of the longest-serving members of the National Assembly had lost the seat to a politically smarter lawmaker, Bukola Saraki, in 2015, when Lawan and his supporters were somewhere at a truce meeting at a Conference Hall some kilometres away from the national assembly complex.
While Lawan was hoping to come back to be announced as Senate President, Bukola who had secretly persuaded most of his PDP senators to wait behind, Bukola emerged as the President of the Senate.
Who are the Senate Presidents in Nigeria from 1960 till date?
At the time of this research, Nigeria has produced 14 presidents of the Senate since 1960 till date. Nnamdi Azikiwe was the first President of the Senate in Nigeria during the first republic.
He was succeeded by Dennis Osadebey while Nwafor Orizu was the last Senate President during the first republic, and as the acting president, he was forced to hand over power to the military.
Below are senate presidents in Nigeria from 1960 till date and the party that had the majority in the Upper legislative chamber:
||Year in Office
Age: 91 years
||NCNC. He died on May 11, 1996
Age: 83 years
||NCNC. He died on December 26, 1994.
Age: 85 years
||NCNC. He died in 1999
(Age: 80 years)
||NPN. He died on November 30, 2021.
Age: 69 years
||SDP. He later became a minister and he’s the incumbent National Chairman of PDP
Age: 75 years
||June 3, 1999-November 18, 1999
||PDP. He died August 2, 2007
Age: 61 years
|November 18, 1999, to August 8, 2000
||PDP. He died September 25, 2003
|Anyim Pius Anyim
Age: 60 years
|August 8, 2000 to May 2003
Age: 73 years
|2003-April 5, 2005
Age: 73 years
|April 5, 2005 to May 2007
Age: 73 years
|May 2007 to May 2015
Age: 58 years
|May 2015 to May 2019
Age: 62 years
|June 11, 2019 till date