By Omoniyi Salaudeen
Power politics in the Senate, last Wednesday, culminated in the suspension of former majority leader, Senator Ali Ndume. Reason: He allegedly brought unproven allegations against the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Senator Dino Melaye. Ndume had walked himself into his current trails when he called for a probe of the bulletproof Range Rover said to belong to Saraki, which was seized by the Customs Service as well as the allegation of certificate scandal leveled against Melaye. The lawmakers’ resolution slamming the embattled Senator six months suspension followed the adoption of the recommendations of the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges assigned to look into the allegations.
Presenting the report for approval on Wednesday, Senator Sam Nwanyanwu said the allegations brought against the two senators by Ndume were false after due investigation. The report, which was signed by two-third of the committee, exonerated Saraki and Melaye of any wrongdoing. Instead, it recommended Ndume for suspension for failing to conduct proper investigation before making the allegations. Ndume, according to the committee, had brought the position of the Senate President and the entire Red Chamber to disrepute by dragging Saraki’s name into the matter of the seized bulletproof Range Rover based on a false report he acquired from social media. The suspension, they argued, would serve as a deterrent to other lawmakers.
Ndume’s suspension is a reminder of the drama of the ouster and subsequent suspension of former chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin. The House of Representatives had based its decision to replace the Kano lawmaker as chairman of the committee on his “incompetence, abuse of budgetary process and serial betrayal, including a ‘proclivity to blackmail.”
But Jibrin didn’t take it lying low. He took the battle to the media, accusing Speaker Yakub Dogara, Deputy Speaker, Yusuf Lasun, House Whip, Doguwa and Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, of budget padding and accordingly called for their resignation. Exonerating himself of any wrong doing, he explained: “I strongly believe with every conviction that in cleaning up the budgeting system and considering what transpired during the 2016 budget which I have all the facts documented, Speaker Dogara, Deputy Speaker Yusuf Lasun, Whip Doguwa and Minority Leader Leo Ogor should resign. These members of the body of principal officers were not comfortable with my independent disposition and my refusal to cover up their unilateral decision to allocate to themselves N40 billion out of the N100billion allocated to the entire National Assembly.
“My inability to admit into the budget almost N30 billion personal requests from Mr. Speaker and the three other principal officers also became an issue. I have documented evidence to this effect. After the submission of the first version of the budget which was returned by Mr. President, I briefed members in executive session and told them as agreed at our pre-budget meeting with chairmen and deputy chairmen of standing committees; we simply adopted their reports with little amendments. Nobody faulted my submission.”
When the lawmakers realised that he was becoming a thorn in their flesh, they moved for his suspension and the majority adopted it. The rest is history! But until then, Jibrin was a close ally of Dogara, the same way Ndume had a close affinity with Saraki-led leadership while he held sway as Senate Leader. Like Jibrin, Ndume’s trouble began when 39 members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) caucus in the Senate recommended his removal as Majority Leader.