Senate Presidency: Lawan Woos PDP Caucus

Ahmad Lawan
  • I have Buhari’s backing to run, Ndume insists
  • North-east stakeholders back Goje, write Oshiomhole

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

Senate Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan, has continued his engagement with all stakeholders, including his colleagues in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over his bid to become the Senate president of the 9th National Assembly.

This is coming as a former Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, has said that he has the blessing of President Muhammadu Buhari to run for Senate president when the 9th National Assembly is inaugurated in June.

Also, the North East Consultative Forum (NECF) and five other groups have endorsed the Chairman of Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Danjuma Goje, as a candidate for the coveted office.

THISDAY gathered that the latest of Lawan’s consultations with his colleagues was his recent engagement with members of the PDP Senate caucus over his ambition.

A ranking PDP Senator told THISDAY yesterday that Lawan has intimated the caucus about his intention to vie for the office of the Senate president when the 9th Senate is inaugurated in June.

The Senator further confirmed that Lawan also had one-on-one interaction with the lawmakers.

“The Senate Leader has actually spoken with some of us in PDP about his ambition to lead the 9th Senate and we listened to him as colleagues. I can confirm to you that he has had very robust discussions with the PDP caucus. He also keeps reminding us at every given opportunity about his ambition and he continues to talk to both PDP and APC colleagues too,” the Senator explained.

Lawan had in the last few weeks stepped up his consultations with different interest groups and Senators-elect over his ambition.

For two weeks, he engaged the 9th National Assembly Senators-elect who were in Abuja for the orientation programme organised by National Assembly for the legislators-elect ahead of their inauguration in June.

Lawan was said to have used the forum to interact with the Senators-elect across party lines on why he is the best candidate for the position.

He also visited some states like Kano, Niger and Borno where he met with some Senators-elect and solicited their support in his bid to become the nation’s number three citizen.

Despite the endorsement of Lawan as the anointed candidate of the ruling party, a

former Senate Leader, Ndume, yesterday insisted that he also has the blessing of President Muhammadu Buhari to run for office of the Senate president.

Ndume who is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Establishments, in a statement personally signed by him, said President Buhari was the first person he told about his ambition long before his re-election during the February 23 parliamentary poll.

“I believe that Mr. President has nothing against my aspiration for the office of the Senate President because I sought his permission long before the general election and he gave me the go-ahead. I have not heard anything otherwise from him.

“I believe he will not go against my aspiration, because as he said he belongs to everybody and belongs to nobody. And he sticks to that. I am sure that the least he can do is to allow the constitution, which he strongly believes in, and the rule of law to prevail in the emergence of the senate leadership. So, I want to use this opportunity to clear the air as to those that are trying to cause disaffection.”

According to him, the insinuation that he was working against the Presidency’s interest was incorrect, adding that “I think it is a spin from well-known quarters”.

Ndume assured the APC leadership of his commitment to party ideals and doing what is right, in line with party’s constitution and the Constitution of Nigeria.

“What I am doing now is to strengthen democracy – to, in fact, improve on or deepen democracy and to stand by what APC believes in. Mr. President stood for election. It was open.

“During his second term, the President subjected himself to the process of democracy that led to his emergence. During the gubernatorial elections he came out clearly to say people should be allowed to elect persons of their choice even in his own case. So, I will be surprised if anything otherwise comes from him”, he further said.

Ndume also dismissed insinuations that he turned down Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s call on him to drop his senate presidency ambition, saying nothing can be farther than the truth.

He said his recent visit to Osinbajo centred on his routine briefing of the Vice President on the humanitarian issues in the North-east, “specifically, the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) issues and situation report on the orphanage, which according to him, is dear to the vice president.

“It was a misinformation. The truth is, it is usual for me to meet with the vice president to discuss issues of common interest, especially the humanitarian crisis in the northeast, of which the vice president has shown exceptional interest in helping out,” Ndume explained.

Meanwhile, the North East Consultative Forum (NECF) and five other groups have endorsed the Chairman of Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Danjuma Goje as a candidate for the coveted office.

In a communique issued at the end of an emergency meeting held in Bauchi, the groups including North East Elders Mobilisation Forum, APC National Youth Caucus, Borno Discussion Circle, Gombe Political Associations and North East Youth Awareness for Good Governance, urged Goje to without further delay declare for the coveted position.

The groups have therefore written the National Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole, about their endorsement of Goje.

In the letter, dated April 17, titled: “North East Stakeholders Endorse Goje,” the conveners, Mustapha Saidu and Alhaji Bello Ambo, commended APC for zoning the Senate Presidency to the North East.

According to the groups, the zoning of the position to the geopolitical zone was a confirmation of the party’s commitment to reward hard work, following the zone’s contribution to the party’s victory in the just concluded general election.

“Following very wide consultations among stakeholders, party members and North East Consultative Forum and after careful assessment of his contribution to the party and Buhari – led administration, we hereby present to you, Senator Danjuma Goje as the choice of the people of the North East for the Senate President of the 9th Assembly,” they told Oshiomhole.