•Why I was removed, by Ndume
From Fred Itua, Abuja
In a shocking move yesterday, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Caucus in the Senate replaced Senator Ali Ndume as its Leader and Ahmad Lawan as the new helmsman.
Making the announcement at the end of plenary, Senate President Senator Bukola Saraki, said the ruling APC lawmakers arrived at the decision at a meeting, held on Monday night in Abuja.
“This is to inform the Senate that after several meetings held on Monday, January 9, 2017, and upon due deliberation and consultation, the APC Caucus of the Senate, hereby wishes to notify you of the change in the leadership of the Senate that the new Leader is now Senator Ahmad Lawan, representing Yobe North Senatorial District. Kindly accept our esteemed regards and best assurances,” Saraki said.
But Ndume said he was removed for insisting that the Senate did not follow the proper procedure before declaring that it had rejected the nomination of Ibrahim Magu as head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Mr. Ndume said he insisted that in view of the Senate’s standard procedures and practice, Mr. Magu had not been rejected by the Senate because there was no confirmation hearing for the nominee to defend claims made against him.
“What I said was that for us (Senate) to claim to have a rejected a nominee sent to us by the president, we have to follow the right procedure, and observe our rules,” the senator said.
“The nominee should have been called into the chamber and presented before senators who will then openly vote on whether to accept or reject his or her nomination,” he said.
Mr. Ndume said the clarification he made unsettled some of his colleagues, who immediately began to plot against him.
“The other day, somebody mentioned to me that the Senate President had commissioned Dino Melaye to collect signatures to remove me. I didn’t pay much attention to the information because I actually thought it was a joke or a rumour.
“I didn’t feel that disagreeing with colleagues, and sharing my understanding of what transpired at our closed session was an offence, grievous enough to cause my removal.”
Daily Sun, however, gathered that the APC caucus may have decided to remove Ndume because of his alleged comments and perceived opposition to Magu’s rejection.
A day after Senate declined to confirm Magu as substantive chairman, Ndume visited President Muhammad Buhari and after the meeting, told newsmen covering the Villa that the chamber did not reject Magu. This forced a rebuttal from the Senate which insisted Magu stood rejected.
Ndume and Magu are from Borno State in the North-East.
But speaking on the issue after yesterday’s plenary, Senate spokesman, Abdullahi Sabi, said with the announcement of Lawan, Ndume ceases to be Senate Leader.
Ndume’s removal, it was also gathered, was part of a final deal reached between members of the Senate Unity Forum, loyal to Lawan and The Like Minds, who are loyal to Saraki.
Mid 2016, Saraki set up a committee to reconcile aggrieved lawmakers. The first tranche of the recommendations of the committee was implemented in the last quarter of 2016, when Senators Oluremi Tinubu and Marafa were given juicy committees, Environment and Petroleum (Downstream) respectively.
Speaking on the deal which led to Ndume’s removal, a close ally of Senator Lawan, Kabir Marafa from Zamfara State, said lawmakers from the two APC factions agreed on the latter’s choice as replacement without rancour.
Dispelling Ndume’s claims that he was unaware of his removal, Marafa said: “Ndume does not need to know or be there. The Standing Rules says that the party has the rights to remove anybody. Majority accepted and that is final.”
After plenary, Ndume headed to his office on the fourth floor of the Senate New Wing. An aide told Daily Sun that although they were aware of his removal, “he was in the office after plenary. He just can’t move like that; he will need time to move his personal effects.”
…APC congratulates Sen. Lawan
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday congratulated Senator Lawan on his emergence. The party expressed happiness over the development.
In a statement signed by the National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, the ruling party noted that it viewed the development as concrete expression of faith by the APC Senate Caucus in the efforts to resolve the lingering issues that have trailed the election of Senate leadership.
“We believe this is a major step forward in our efforts to reunite the various interest groups in that Senate election, thereby presenting a common legislative front for our great party.
“We are particularly delighted that the consultations that were initiated towards the end of 2016 between the party caucuses in the National Assembly and the party executives as well as other leading stakeholders of our party has yielded these results and the Senate has demonstrated its willingness to finally submit to the will of the party in this regard,” he said.
“Recall that soon after the issue of election in the Senate occurred, the party leadership had resolved that Senator Lawan be compensated with the position of the Senate Leader. Sadly, that directive was not fully complied with at the time. But we are happy to see this change effected, which represents a significant progress in our efforts to build a strong and united party, he said.