A former Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, yesterday stated that there was no time the All Progressives Congress (APC) officially asked him not to run for the position of Senate President, saying he joined the race to win as he has the support of his colleagues and party leaders to content for the position.
Addressing journalists yesterday in Lagos, Ndume expressed optimism that he would emerge as the Senate President in the ninth National Assembly, adding that he is not in the race to bargain for juicy position.
According to him, he has consulted widely with a lot of party leaders in the ruling APC and none has asked him to withdraw for anyone.
He said even the National Chairman of APC, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, said the party leaders only recommended Senator Ahmad Lawan as their preferred choice and were not trying to impose him on the senators.
“The party has endorsed Ahmed Lawan. I am very loyal to the party. But I only go with the party to extent that the party has followed the constitutional provisions on any matter. I also believe that power belongs to God and He gives it to whoever He likes. I consulted widely before I made my intention public. I consulted President Muhammadu Buhari; the National Leader of the party, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and other leaders of our party and they gave me their blessings. I am in Lagos in continuation of that consultation. I am encouraged by the feedback. I wrote a letter to the party to inform them of my intention. So far, nobody has told me to suspend my aspiration because they know that doing so will amount to denial of my constitutional rights. Nobody should be imposed on the senate. I am insisting that democracy should prevail,” he explained.
Ndume described President Buhari as “father to all.”
“I don’t expect the president to take sides with anybody. The president has never interfered in the electoral process. The party has only recommended Lawan. If the party decides wrongly, I will not follow the party. Nobody has said to me ‘don’t do it’. I have not heard otherwise. The National Assembly is my second home. I have been there long enough. I know the rules that guide choice of leadership of the National Assembly. It is senators that will choose one of them to supervise their affairs. That person will be ‘one among equals, not one above equals’ as we currently have.”
According to Ndume, he has the backing of his constituents and it may amount to a betrayal of their trust if he shelved his ambition.
“It is better for me to pursue this to a logical conclusion. I am not in the race to bargain for any other position. The party is supreme only to the extent of the legality of its decision. The party has not said it is depriving me of my right. The party has never appointed anybody, even the position of the president was contested. It was the same for the National Chairman of the party – people expressed interest, forms were sold and elections held. The party’s constitution recommends; consensus, direct or indirect primary.”
“We have 109 senators and each of them has one vote. If you are contesting to be the senate president, you have to reach out. But at the beginning, I was cautious because I am a party man. So, when the party said don’t go there, because if you do, you will be disciplined, I stayed back. But the party came out again and said ‘you can reach out to them now, and so, I reached out to them. So far, I thank God that the response I am getting from my colleagues from the other party is very encouraging – the same thing from my colleagues in APC. I am in this race to win. So, I am talking to everybody. I have all the numbers of the 109 senators-elect and I call them’.
“I have written the party, indicating my intention to contest. Even my national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole publicly said they only recommended Lawan and they are not stopping anybody. As I speak with you, nobody has consulted me to say ‘don’t run for Senate President’. Everybody has the constitutional right to do that,” he said.
Speaking on his nine-point agenda, Ndume, who currently represents Borno South, promised to improve upon the performance of the 8th Senate, adding that he will make the Office of the Senate President less attractive by reducing the unnecessary privileges attached to the office.
While promising to uphold the independence of the legislative arm of government, the third-time Senator promised to “work harmoniously and inter-dependently with the executive without undermining the principle of Separation of Powers”.
“I want to halt the drift of the Senate and return it to the independent institution that is supposed to be, while serving creditably its useful function of stabilising the polity by performing its check and balance role. Currently the office of the Senate President has become personalised. With a comfortable majority of 65 senators, the APC leadership in the senate should not have any problems. I want to restructure the office of the Senate President. Another thing I will like to do is to see to the speedy passage of the Constituency Project Bill, which I sponsored. Constituency projects have been mismanaged for a long time. But the truth is that we have 774 local government areas, some of which will never feel the presence of the federal government without these constituency projects.”
The lawmaker, who said that the North-east deserves an articulate representative as Senate President, added that the region had suffered huge devastations with property worth over N2 trillion destroyed by insurgents.
He said there was need for an articulate candidate from the North-east geo-political zone as a Senate President to galvanise global support for the restoration of the North-East.
He said he was qualified to play that role, adding that his record in the National Assembly could attest to that.
The ranking lawmaker who said if given the opportunity, he would not compromise the independence of the legislature, added that his chances of becoming the next Senate president are bright, adding that he enjoys robust relationship with his colleagues (senators-elect).
Ndume said he had been engaging his colleagues, assuring them that he wants to be President of Senate and Senators’ President.
He maintained that God has been so kind to him as a “son of nobody that became somebody without knowing anybody,”adding that the onus is on him to reciprocate God’s favour by serving mankind.
“The 9th senate will do things differently. And that’s why I set out my nine-point agenda of what I want to do to reposition the senate”.