James Bathnna, , a close ally of Senator Ndume and one of the All Progressives Congress (APC) stalwarts in Borno State, speaks on why Ndume should be elected the Senate president.
What are the chances of Senator Ndume?
We are very optimistic about him clinching the seat, because Senator Ndume still stands a better chance of emerging the Senate president. Many Nigerians have come to know who the best candidate is and many have gotten to know that Ndume stands for democracy; he stands for all ideals that are democratic and this contest has proven so.
Does he enjoy any support from the home front?
If you look at his pedigree in the last seven years plus as a senator, Ndume is the most visible among the North East senators. That goes to tell you so much about his capacity and his aura as somebody that is very much capable to deliver even as a Senate president. At the home front, Senator Ndume has worked in a very close and cordial manner with our state governor, Kashim Shettima, and no one expects anything other than total support for him.
Sincerely speaking, many Nigerians are getting to see that democracy is now growing.
Many people are now waking up to that reality. If you talk about loyality of a politician; it goes first to the country and its people. We in Borno have joined others across the country to insist that we need someone who is very loyal – not only to the president, or the party leadership, but to the country. Nigeria needs someone who when there is need to take decision he stands for the country and for integrity. And that is engrained in the persons of Senator Ndume. Senator Ndume is one of the most misunderstood persons; some say he is not loyal; he is not respectful, and so on. But that is not true.
We hear he is being backed by the opposition PDP senators. Is that true?
This is quite ludicrous. If you look at the kind of problems that he had with Saraki, one needs no further conviction to know that such thing cannot happen. We must not forget that large chunk of the PDP senators that rejected Ndume, accepted Ahmed Lawan as Senate Leader. And even through the election, Ndume’s position on the leadership of the Senate as it concerns PDP has been very clear. So it cannot be true at all.
But the Aso Rock cabal is backing him?
I don’t believe this is also true. The reason for my doubts was that if he enjoys the backing of the Aso Rock, he would have been the preferred candidate. If he was being sponsored by the so called cabal, the cabal would have been able to persuade the party leadership to support Senator Ndume after the office has been properly zoned to the North East. So this cannot be true. In this contest, Ndume is a man that stands on his own to defend democracy; and Nigerians, irrespective of their political persuasions and cultural backgrounds are unanimous in their convictions that he is someone who can ensure the independence of the parliament working in harmony with the executive to move this country forward.
Let me also add that if one fully knows the pedigree and nature of President Muhammadu Buhari, it is very clear that he is somebody whose style of doing things is not to come out to fight a cause in the open. I believe the president is taking his time to look at the sentiments of Nigerians on this matter before taking a final decision. I don’t think the silence of the president in relation with the outburst of the party leadership, has so much to do with Ndume as a person.
Are you not afraid that Ndume’s decision to run will be offending the establishment within the party? Won’t he face opposition after emerging?
I sincerely believe that by the time Ndume emerges as the Senate president, the party will find the need to have a rethink especially when they aggregate the way Nigerians think about the whole thing. This party needs sustainability; this party needs to grow beyond 2023. They will need to have a common ground between their individual ego and the focus of the party to succeed in many more years to come. I think with that, people will have to sit down and tell each other that ‘wait a minute, how is it going to play out and how does this improve our democracy.’ We have been talking about internal democracy and this is just one of it; internal democracy is not only about primary elections. It is just about providing a level playing ground for all to have a sense of belonging. That will also resonate on the integrity of the entire process. If integrity is not there, there is going to be a problem; no matter who is anointed or who emerges at the end of the day. So we have to insist on having some transparency and integrity in the process of electing the leadership of the Senate.