Senate Presidency: Ndume, Lawan Reach Truce As APC Zone Offices This Week

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By Obute James

Ndume-LawanAhead of the formal zoning of various offices including the office of the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives this week, two major contenders from the North East Geo-Political Zone, Senator Ali Ndume (APC Borno) and Senator Ahmed Lawan (APC Yobe) had agreed to step down for each other if the office of the Senate President is zoned to the North East.

The leaders of All Progressive Congress (APC) seems to be in dilemma in recent times over the zoning of National Assembly Principal Offices particularly, the office of the Senate President and House of Representatives.

The party leaders are expected to meet towards this weekend and come up with the zoning formula for presiding officers of National Assembly and other positions in Gen. Muhammad Buhari Administration.

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Senator Ali Ndume is the Senate Committee Chairman on Millennium Development Goal. He served as the Minority Leader in House of Representatives between 2007 and 2011. Senator Ahmed Lawan is the Senate Committee Chairman on Public Account. They are all from North East region.

Senator George Akume {APC Benue) and Bukola Sarki (APC Kwara) are the leading contenders in the North Central. Both of them had served as state governors.

Though APC leaders will meet this week over the zoning of the offices, it was gathered that APC has already zoned the office of the Senate President to the North Central despite the agitations by the North East that the position be zoned to their region in view of their peculiar condition.

Sources revealed that APC leadership decided to zone the office of the Senate President to the North Central Geo-Political Zone on the ground that leaders from the North East have not been able to put their house in order and come up with a consensus candidate for the office of the Senate President.

The fear was that if the North East caucus picks Senator Ali Ndume for the office of the Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawan may boycott their decision and still go further   to contest for the Senate Presidency and thereby creating room for Senator David Mark to emerge as the next Senate President.

APC is also afraid of allegation that Lawan had entered into an alliance with PDP caucus in the Senate and offered them the Deputy Senate President slot in order to accommodate the incumbent Senator Ike Ekweremadu.

The one page advertisement   placed in some newspapers last Monday by Yobe State Government declaring support for Lawan in the race for Senate Presidency was another factor being considered.

The advertisement was at variance with the position of North East caucus which distanced themselves from the purported endorsement of Lawan by other caucuses.

However, it was learnt that after intervention of some concerned leaders from both the North East and North West Geo-Political Zones, Senator Ahmed Lawan had agreed to stand by the decision of the party and North East caucus in respect of the race for the Senate Presidency.   This means if North East caucus picks Senator Ali Ndume as the consensus candidate, he will abide by their decision.

Similarly, to put the region interest above personal interest, it was also learnt that Senator Ndume and Senator Lawan met each other and agreed to abide by the decision of the party as well as the North East caucus. The source said the duo vowed not to protest the decision of the North East caucus in whichever way it goes if the party leadership zones the office of the Senate President to the North East.

Senator Ndume on his own part in an interview with journalists said he will abide by the decision of the party as well as the North East caucus. “Gentlemen of the press let me tell you that I will only be in the race for the Senate Presidency if the APC leadership zones it to the North East, but if the party zones it to another region I will not be in the race.

“However, we are appealing to the party leadership to zone the office of the Senate President to the North East considering our peculiar condition.”

The factors being considered in favor of North East include adverse effect of insurgency. The zone is the most devastated by the Boko Haram insurgency and one of the poorest regions on earth according to the United Nations Report. The UN assessment is based on access to water, education, electricity, healthcare service, infrastructure etc. Boko Haram activities in the three North East States of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa had led to the death of thousands of people while millions were displaced. About 15 local government areas from the three states mostly from Borno were captured by the Boko Haram sect.

Unlike the North Central which has produced the Senate President including Senator David Mark who is completing his eight years as Senate President, the North East has never produced President of Nigeria and Senate President.

Except Lagos State, Yobe and Borno are the only states in Nigeria that have been in opposition party since 1979. In 1979, NPN was the ruling government at the centre while Lagos was controlled by UPN; Yobe and Borno were being controlled by GNPP.

Those from the North East are also of the view that if justice and fairness is to prevail, now that opposition party takes over the national government, North East particularly Yobe and Borno should be compensated. This also agrees with the saying that “a patient dog eats the fattest bone”

In the presidential election, North East produced the largest results next to North West where President-elect, Gen. Muhammad Buhari hails from. North East also produced 13 senators in the March 28 parliamentary election and took over Bauchi and Adamawa from PDP.

On the alleged division in the North East over the newspaper advertorial, sources close to Governor of Yobe State Alhaji Ibrahim Geidam affirmed that Geidam  called Ndume from Saudi Arabia to declare his support for him in the race for Senate Presidency. The source said “after the controversial advert placed by the Yobe State Government on last Monday in favour of Lawan, His Excellency, Governor Ibrahim Geidam called Senator Ndume and told him not to be bothered about the advert he saw on the pages of newspaper that he is solidly behind his candidature.”

According to the source, Geidam told Ndume that he has instructed all the party leaders and lawmakers particularly the Senators from Yobe State to support him if the North East caucus endorses him as the consensus candidate for the Senate Presidency. It was also gathered that Senator Bukkar Abba Ibrahim met with Senator Ndume to tell him not to be bothered about the official statement by Yobe State government over the race for the Senate Presidency that it is natural for them to do what they have done.

It was learnt that the North East governors were more comfortable with Senator Ndume than Senator Lawan in the race for Senate Presidency. They even prefer to forfeit the office of the Senate President than to see Lawan presiding as Senate President. The sin of Lawan is not that he has any pending corruption case but they are angry with him over his personal character. They alleged that Lawan is arrogant and unfriendly. The leaders from the North East fear that Lawan may not even listen or take their advice once he emerges as Senate President.  But his insistence to contest the election by all means if the party zones it to the North East created a lot of controversies making APC leadership to think of zoning the office of the Senate President to the North Central despite pending corruption cases against the two former governors in the race.

A reliable source who does not want his name on print said that Lawan made it to the 8th National Assembly through Buhari factor. The Source maintained that his counterpart in Yobe South, Senator Abulkadir Jajere was not all that too lucky as he was defeated by the PDP candidate in the March 28 parliamentary election. It was alleged that Jajere’s constituents warned APC leadership not to present Jajere for the election because of poor performance, arrogance and unfriendliness, but he maneuvered his way to pick the ticket. However he was defeated in the election due to literacy level of his people which made them to vote for PDP candidate despite the victory of Buhari in all the polling units in the zone.

Now that Lawan had agreed to work with Ndume and verse versa if the Senate presidency is zoned to the North East, it is not certain whether APC will re-consider its decision.

However, pundits argued that by allowing ex-governors with pending corruption cases to preside over the National Assembly as Senate President will in no doubt put APC against Nigerians. This will create impression that APC only orchestrated anti-corruption song to ride on unto power but not that the party have any interest to fight corruption.

1 Comment
  1. Musa Ali says

    After having a cursory look at the various views and suggestions you will come to concur with those in support of Sen.Ndume because he is most suitable candidate in terms of competency, credibility and friendliness .

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