Elders back Ndume, gov goes for Lawan
Why Ndume won’t step down — Associate
By Henry Umoru
ABUJA—GOVERNOR Kashim Shettima of Borno State and elders of the state, yesterday, threaded parallel paths over who to support in the ongoing tussle for the 9th Senate presidency between Senator Ahmad Lawan (APC, Yobe North) and Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South).
While Borno elders and stakeholders threw their weight behind former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, Governor Shettima dumped his kinsman, Ndume, and endorsed Ahmad Lawan.
Speaking through their spokesman, Alhaji Yakubu Umar, in reaction to All Progressives Congress, APC, reported endorsement of Senator Ahmad Lawan, the elders said President Muhammadu Buhari had last December backed Ndume for the job.
Meantime, an associate of Ndume told Vanguard that regardless of pressure from party leaders that the senator would not step down for Lawan. Rather, he prefers to contest and lose on the floor of the Senate than stepping down.
‘’Ndume would prefer to be defeated after the voting process instead of stepping down for Lawan,’’ the associate said, adding Ndume has the required number among the Senators to become the next Senate President.
The Borno elders’ spokesman told Buhari to ensure he does not suffer further sabotage by allowing the wrong person to be elected the 9th Senate president, adding that the president should personally subject antecedents of Ndume and Lawan to scrutiny to determine who is more loyal, experienced or qualified to be senate president.
In terms of lawmaking administrative experience, they said Ndume was first a Minority Leader in the House of Representatives and later Majority Leader before Lawan.
According to the group, Ndume was punished and removed as Senate Leader because he was seen to be too close to presidency; just as he was suspended from plenary for defending Buhari’s policy, adding that Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, replaced Ndume with Lawan, who he considered as a willing partner, and under whom the presidency began to suffer sabotage.
The group noted that Ndume would be a more competent Senate president because while he was a Senate Leader, he had the highest number of bills passed and also topped the chart of bills sponsorship with 64 bills.
They said records also show that no bill passed was denied assent by the president, but under Lawan more bills passed were rejected, adding: “This is because it is the responsibility of the senate leader to liaise with the Senate and Mr President, perhaps this was not taken seriously.
‘’Senate leader is the one who markets executive bill to the senate and carries out any improvement such bill requires to be accepted by the senate. This is the function Lawan failed to achieve.”
According to Umar, Senator Ndume is undoubtedly the senator who sacrificed the most in the defence of his party’s interest and policy in the 8th senate and that he lost his senate leadership position in the defence of President Buhari administration, just as he went on 90 legislative-day suspension in the bid to shield the presidency from ridicule.
He continued: ‘’Before we decided to throw our support for Ndume to contest for the 9th senate President’s position if it was zoned to the North-East geopolitical zone, we the Borno elders on the platform of Concerned Borno Citizens asked our son whether he conferred with President Buhari, the ultimate leader of the ruling party, of his intention.
Shettima dumps kinsman, backs Lawan
However, addressing journalists in Abuja, Shettima, a senator -elect for Borno Central, said he was supporting Lawan because of the position of APC, which had already adopted him, stressing that the decision of the APC on who becomes the President of the 9th Senate must be respected if party discipline and cohesion must be enforced in the ruling party.
Shettima, who noted that it was not true that Borno elders were backing Senator Ndume, said as the first citizen of the state, he made wide consultations before his decision to support Lawan.
He said: “I hail from the same state with the distinguished Senator Ndume. And I appreciate the fact that politics is local. But politics is also national. And I believe the blood that binds us together supersedes whatever we might harbour. I am the first citizen of the state, I have made wide consultations with our leaders from Borno before resolving to back Senator Lawan.
“I fully align with the aspiration of my party, to the aspiration of President Buhari and by the grace of God, we are going to mobilize all our goodwill to see that we are fully on board. We are for Senator Lawan, we are for Femi Gbajabiamila and all other senators and other House of Representatives members endorsed by the party.
“We are for party discipline that allowed everyone to aspire for political offices. We believe that we must respect the party. All of us won under platforms. There is no provision for independent candidate.
“And most importantly, let’s be brutally honest. Most of us from the North won election by aligning with Buhari. So, we have no basis to undermine him or to disrespect him. Most of us from the North have no basis not to align ourselves with President Buhari and whoever he enforces. He has endorsed some of the best hands we have in the system and where we hail from, Senator Lawan is one of the best hands we have.
“It is a reality. He has been in the National Assembly since 1999, he has the experience, exposure, pedigree, intellect to redefine the process. He is the best among equals. He is level headed, calm, matured and we need such quality of leadership to drive the 9th Senate.
“We, the people of Borno, the elected representatives of the people of Borno are not at war with Senator Ali Ndume. He is my kinsman but we will continue to prevail on him to align himself with the aspiration of the party. We are not at war. We belong to the same paternity.”