The Senate, last Tuesday, in a surprise move, replaced Senator Ali Ndume, APC, Borno South, with Senator Ahmad Lawan, APC, Yobe North as Majority Leader.
The action came a day after the senators returned from three weeks recess they took to celebrate Christmas and new year. Senate President Bukola Saraki announced the decision of the APC Caucus.
Reading the APC Caucus letter to the Senate, dated January 10, 2017, and titled, “ Notice of Change of Leadership” Saraki said, “This is to inform Your Excellency and the Senate that, after several meetings held on Monday, January 9, 2017, and upon due deliberations and consultations, the All Progressives Congress, APC Caucus of the Senate, hereby wishes to notify you of our Resolution of VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE on the Senate Leader and the immediate change in the leadership of the Senate; that the new Senate Leader be and is now SENATOR AHMAD I. LAWAN, representing Yobe North Senatorial District of Yobe State.”
38 senators signed the letter. It was gathered that the removal of Ndume as Senate Leader was not unconnected with the ongoing reconciliatory moves between the leadership of the red chambre , the leadership of the APC and the executive arm of government.
Ndume and Lawan According to a source, the action was a follow-up to the December meeting where Saraki led some principal officers of the Senate to a crucial meeting with the ruling APC, led by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, at the National Secretariat of the party in Abuja, just as it was agreed that this must be carried out in line with the earlier position of the party to arrive at a win- win situation.
The source also told Sunday Vanguard that many senators believed that Ndume did not help matters because of his relationship with his colleagues that they saw as not pleasant, just as the source said that at the Monday meeting, many of the APC senators were not happy with the alleged antagonistic posture of the sacked Senate leader against decisions of the red chambre in recent times.
A ranking APC senator, who spoke, said, “ The decision of the APC Senate Caucus is not unconnected with the reconciliatory moves between the Senate leadership, the party and the executive. What happened today( Tuesday) has been on the front burner. Ndume has also not helped matters because of his relationship with his colleagues and his public statements which have not been going well with us, it is for peace.
“ The source cited Senate’s rejection of the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, as an example, saying Ndume’s contradictory remarks on the resolution to journalists, few days after, was in bad taste.
A day after the Senate rejected Magu as the Executive Chairman of the anti- graft agency following damning reports by the Department of State Security (DSS), the former Senate Leader visited President Muhammadu Buhari after which he told Journalists at the Villa that the Senate did not reject Magu.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, in a ripaste, took a swipe at Ndume, saying Magu stood rejected by the upper chamber.
Magu hails from the same state, Borno, with Ndume.
It was also alleged that Ndume had fare knowledge of the allegations of misapplication of funds voted for the North East Development involving the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal, upon which the Senate called for the latter’s immediate removal by Buhari.
Meanwhile, the meeting between Saraki and the APC leadership was the first time the Senate President was holding such consultation with the party’s national leadership since his emergence in 2015 against the party’s preferred choice of Ahmed Lawan for the position of Senate President.
Saraki was accompanied to the meeting by Ndume, his deputy, Bala Ibn Na’Allah and the Whip, Senator Olusola Adeyeye.
At end of the meeting, which lasted for over two and a half hours, Saraki and Oyegun admitted to journalists that the end might not be in sight to the crisis within the party.
But they agreed that the process of getting the issues resolved had begun.
Reacting to his removal, Ndume, who was not in the Senate chamber when the letter to oust him was read, briefed journalists, stressing that he was shocked by the development.
Ndume, who noted that he led the business of the Senate from the beginning of the session same day before he went to pray at about 12:45pm, only to be confronted with the sudden development by journalists, said: “Let me say I don’t have much to say because actually I was leading the business of the Senate and, when it was like quarter to one as usual, I asked my deputy to sit in for me while I go to pray. On coming back I discovered that the session was over and one of your colleagues approached me and said, ‘Leader, what happened’, and I said ‘what happened’ and he said there had been announcement in the change of leadership, I said I didn’t know. ‘At this point, that is the position. I didn’t know that there was change of leadership because I was not there, I went for prayers and I didn’t know what actually happened and I cannot say much now”.
When asked to speak on the development, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Publicity, Abdullahi, who noted that a new Majority Leader had been announced, said, “ Iam speaking for the Senate and of course as you can hear from the announcement, it was a letter from the APC Caucus. I am not the spokesman for the APC Caucus, but I am a member of APC and I am here to speak for the Senate, so it will be very difficult for me and I don’t want to find myself in saying who sent you”.
But barely twenty four hours after his removal, Ndume accepted his removal from his position, but warned that the rules and tradition of the upper chamber must be strictly adhered to, just as he wished his successor, Senator Ahmad Lawan, best of luck in the discharge of his duties.
In his acceptance speech, the new Senate Leader, Lawan, said that, with his emergence, the animosity, which has characterized the eighth Senate after it was inaugurated June 9, 2015, was over.
He said, “The 8th Senate started on a shaky foundation. This Senate will end on a solid, stable and successful foundation. On the part of the SUF, we were never personal, only we felt that what ought to have been done was not done and if there is compliance now, there will be no animosity.”
Addressing journalists, Lawan, who disclosed that he had no fore knowledge of his party and Senate decision to replace Ndume, said what took place was an act of God, just as he called on his colleagues to cooperate with him in his new assignment to deliver the dividends of democracy to Nigerians.
What took place on the floor of the Senate may have ended the bickering that characterized the red cambre since after the election of Saraki as Senate President against the wish of the APC and some powerful forces in the party.
The party had wanted Lawan for the position of Senate President, but some senators vehemently disagreed with the position and this led to the emergence of two factions in the Senate namely: Senate Unity Forum, SUF, made up of senators in support of Lawan, and Senators of Like Minds, which was loyal to Saraki. Prominent members of the SUF were Senators Abdullahi Adamu, APC, Nasarawa West; Rabiu Kwankwaso, APC, Kano Central; Suleiman Hunkuyi, APC, Kaduna North; Abu Ibrahim, APC, Katsina South; Ajayi Borrofice, APC, Ondo North; Oluremi Tinubu, APC, Lagos Central; Barnabas Gemade, APC, North East; Olugbenga Ashafa, APC, Lagos East; Kabir Marafa, APC, Zamfara Central, among others.
The Senators of Like Minds were Senators Dino Melaye, APC, Kogi West; Danjuma Goje, APC, Gombe Central; Isah Hamma Misau, APC, Bauchi Central; Shaaba Lafiagi, APC, Kwara North; Andy Uba, PDP, Anambra South; Rafiu Adebayo, APC, Kwara South; Ahmed Rufai Sani, APC, Zamfara West, among others.
The Senate became polarized even before the election of the principal officers took place June 9, 2015.
Many wondered why on the date of inauguration where a new Senate President ought to emerge, the ruling party fixed a meeting at the International Conference Centre, ICC, knowing that the Senate is made up of senators elected on the platform of the APC, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and the Labour Party (LP). Saraki polled 57 out of 108 votes to emerge as Senate President, with 51 senators, including his then rival for the position of Senate President, Lawan, absent.
Senator Ike Ekweremadu of the PDP was returned as the the Deputy President of the Senate, thereby producing a bipartisan Senate. After the election, the problem continued. This time, the election of principal officers which ordinarily should be a party affair pitted the Senate leadership against APC.
While the APC leadership had insisted that the names must sail through, the list died on arrival.
The the APC had nominated Lawan, who lost to Saraki, as Senate leader; Olusola Adeyeye, APC, Osun Central as Chief Whip; George Akume, APC, Benue North West as Deputy Senate Leader and Abu Ibrahim, APC, Katsina South as Deputy Whip, whereas Saraki and his group insisted that Senate Leader should be zoned to the North East; Deputy Leader, North West; Chief Whip, South West and Deputy Whip, South South and later went ahead to nominate Ndume from Borno as Senate Leader; Bala Ibn Na’Allah, APC, Kebbi South as Deputy Senate Leader and Francis Alimikhena, APC, Edo North, though new, is the only APC senator from the South South and Olusola Adeyeye, after a while, was nominated as the Chief Whip.
Source – Vanguard