All Progressives Congress (APC) caucus in the Senate on Tuesday removed Mohammed Ali Ndume as Majority Leader of the Red Chamber. MBACHU GODWIN NNANNA writes on the undercurrent that led to his removal
Finally, the lingering leadership tussle in the Senate, has consumed Mohammed Ali Ndume, as he was on Tuesday , removed as the Majority leader of the apex legislative chamber by the Caucus of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Ndume’s sack saw to his replacement with Senator Ahmad Lawan (APC Yobe North), who from the inception of the Eighth Senate, indulged in a dogged and desperate fight to clinch the topmost position in the leadership of the chamber.
Recall that Lawan who was a contestant for the senate presidency alongside the incumbent, Bukola Saraki, was recommended by the leadership of the party for the post of Senate Majority leader, following his inability to clinch the Senate presidency but was rejected at the APC North East caucus level.
A drama however, ensued on the floor of the senate Tuesday, when the Senate President, read a letter from the Senate APC caucus on the floor, announcing Lawan as the new Majority leader of the 8th Senate.
The letter dated January 10, 2016, reads “His Excellency, the president of the senate, notice of change of leadership. This is to inform your Excellency and the senate that after several meetings held on Monday 9th January 2017, upon due deliberation and consultation the APC caucus of the senate, herby wishes to notify you of the change in the leadership of the senate and the new senate leader is now Senator Ahmed Lawan representing Yobe North senatorial district, Yobe state”
LEADERSHP learnt through the APC caucus spokes person who spoke to our correspondent, that at the said meetingon Monday night, many of the APC senators were not happy with antagonistic posture Senator Ndume appeared to have shown against Senate’s decisions on critical issues in the chamber in recent times.
Citing Senate’s rejection of the embattled acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu as example, the sources said Ndume’s contradictory remarks on the resolution to State House reporters few days after , was totally in bad fate.
According to them, allowing him to continue in the exalted office would portray the hallowed chamber in a bad and false light, hence, the need for his removal.
It was also gathered that Ndume was fingered to have knowledge of financial impropriety on the North East Development Fund involving the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal, upon which the Senate called for the latter’s immediate removal by President Buhari.
However, briefing the press after plenary, Ndume who was not in the Senate chamber when the letter was read, expressed serious shock about the unprecedented and embarrassing development.
He said as Senate Leader, he led the business of the Senate from the beginning of the session yesterday before he went to pray at about12:45pm, only to be confronted with the sudden development by some journalists when he came out from prayer.
He 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 is over and one of your colleagues approached me and said “Leader, what happened? And I said what happened? And he said there has 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”.
Meanwhile, the Spokesman of the Senate, Aliyu Sabi,at a briefing at the end of plenary, declined to make categorical comments on Ndume’s ouster, claiming that it was a Caucus affair, and that he was not spokesman of the APC Senate Caucus.
He said, “I am 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 of 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 a plenaery yesterday , Ndume who try to challenge his ouster while raising order 43 on personal explaination faulted his removal in his abscence, arguing that he was not properlly notified.
There are speculations that Ndume,s removal may spark off another round of fight in the upper chamber as the way and manner of his removal came to him as a a surprise.
Ndume said “Mr President, I discussed with you before the sitting that sequence to the event that happened yesterday in my absence I went to pray there was change in leadership particularly affecting me and I felt it is important for me to be given the chance to as I said when I was nominated as the Senate Leader by my colleagues for the opportunity given to me to serve as the senate leader. When I was nominated as the Senate leader I said one thing at that time and I want to repeat today that as a Senator I am not better than anybody here and I also want to believe that all of us are equal in this senate.
“I thank God for the way and the courage God given me to carry-on with my responsibility for the time one and half years that God said is my time as the senate leader. So, I want to thank unanimously especially my colleagues for the confidence you had in me. I thank God that throughout my service as the senate leader, most of the times my colleagues casually will say leader we are proud of you, I was not found wanting for anything that I know and because of the unity of this senate that is more important than myself three times I offered to resign and if that will bring peace but I believe that God’s time is the best.
“You are one of those that even warned me here to stop saying that I will resign but yesterday I was not around change of leadership was announced. In fact if the number of those that lost confidence in me is not up to this number and I am made to know I will resign because I did not become a senate leader in other to loose confidence of any of you and that is why I am concerned about the loss of confidence because as far as I know I have not done anything.
“But then just like that the Senate caucus has the right to say we have lost confidence in you and I think that should be now that I have said it I think it’s on record that I did not do anything not to the best of my knowledge I did not do anything but as I said since my colleagues consciously 38 of them signed it.
So, if they signed that they have lost confidence what Dino is trying to bring out now is not what and I am not going there at all because by the time you are to be removed at least you will be confonted with allegations on what you have done and be given chance to defend yourselves but as I said since I have lost confidence even if it is 10 of you members then I have no moral ground to continue to lead this senate because that means there are some people that are not with me.
Having said that I wasnt to say that this Senate is an institutions that we must protect. How do you protect the institution is to obey the rules and the tradition. If today, just like that without telling somebody and he goes out, If it is Ndume today and it’s ok it may be God forbid Ekweremadu tomorrow.
So, what I am saying is that anytime our colleagues erred in one way or the other we should be given the chance to say look this is what we did and therefore we have lost confidence in you but I thank God since there is nothing and I am grateful for that. So, I want to once again say thank you very much for the opportunity given me to serve as the senate leader and I wish my brother the new senate leader we have been struggling for this for a long time I hope and I wish you the best of service to this important institution.
Responding to Ndume’s speech Ekweremadu said “This is coming on under order 43 and is not open to debate. But let me on behalf of the rest of our colleagues thank you for your service to the senate and indeed to the National Assembly because you were a member of the House of Representatives leadership at some point, you came to the senate and also held very important committee assignments and then rose to become the senate leader.”