The Senate’s coup against former leader, Ali Ndume

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There is no doubt that politics is truly a game of permanent interest. In this game, there are neither permanent friends nor permanent foes. Alignment and realignment is the inherent and consistent behaviour of the players.

Only those who do not understand the dynamism and nuances of politics fight and die for or make enemies on behalf of politicians, who most times do not care about what happens to their followers after getting to the realm of power.

What transpired in the Senate recently, was a clear indication that politics and politicians in Nigeria are highly unpredictable.

Even the most precision journalists were taken aback as nobody contemplated the event. However, the unprecedented development, whereby Ali Ndume was shown the way out of power as the Senate Leader, and Ahmad Lawan was nomiated to replace him immediately, in a seeming parliamentary coup, was earlier expected at the peak of the leadership crisis, which lingered in the apex chamber for one and half years.

On that fateful day, Ndume was innocently conducting the business of the Senate, as the Majority Leader, until about 12:45 pm, when he reportedly stepped out of the chamber to observe his prayers within the White House at the National Assembly complex.

Unfortunately for him, by the time he was done with his prayers, he attempted to return to the Chamber to continue with the business of the day, only to discover that the place had been deserted by the senators.

His colleagues had hurriedly executed their “coup” and quickly vacated the hallowed chambers to avoid any pandemonium, if Ndume returns and decide to make trouble to reclaim his position.

The Borno South senator’s removal saw the emergence Lawan (Yobe North), who from the inception of the Eight Senate, has been locked in a battle to clinch the topmost position in the leadership of the chamber.

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Lawan no doubt, was the preferred candidate of the ruling party and the Presidency for the office of President of the Senate, a proposal, which it abortion triggered an unending imbroglio within and outside the nation’s lawmaking chamber.

As contestant for the Senate presidency alongside the incumbent, Bukola Saraki , Lawan was recommended by the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the post of Senate Majority leader, following his failure to clinch the Senate presidency but was rejected at the APC North East caucus level.

It was gathered that the leadership of the party and the Presidency made several desperate attempts to persuade Ndume to step down for Lawan but without success, as he always insisted that God gave him the power and only God could take it away from him.

However, a twist ensued, when the President of the Senate read a letter from the Senate APC caucus on the floor, announcing Lawan as the new Majority leader of the Eight Senate.

The letter dated January 10, 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 January 9, 2017, 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 and the new Senate Leader is now Senator Ahmad Lawan, representing Yobe North senatorial district, Yobe state.”

New Telegraph learnt from sources within the APC caucus, that at the said meeting, many of the APC senators were not happy over what they described as antagonistic posture Senator Ndume appeared to have exhibited against Senate’s decisions on critical issues in the chamber in recent times.

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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 viewed as reprehensible.

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 (SGF), Babachir David Lawal, upon which the Senate called for the latter’s immediate removal by President Buhari.

However, briefing the press after plenary, Ndume expressed shock over the unprecedented and embarrassing development, noting that he led the business of the Senate from the beginning of the session before he went to pray, only to be confronted with the sudden development by some journalists when he came out from prayer and was attempting to return to the chamber.

Spokesman of the Senate, Senator Aliyu Sabi, who declined to make categorical comments on Ndume’s ouster, claimed that it was a Caucus affair, and that he was not spokesman of the APC Senate Caucus. His words: “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 a situation where they will be saying ‘who sent you.’

The following day, Ndume sought opportunity to express his grievances to his colleagues, accusing the APC Senate Caucus of violating due process in his removal from office.

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Coming through Order 43 of the Senate Standing Orders, 2015 (as amended) to make personal explanation on his unprecedented ouster, the former Senate leader said that he was not notified of any wrong he committed to warrant his removal.

He also expressed concern that he was never invited to any caucus meeting of the ruling party in the Senate to inform him that members had lost confidence in him, warning his colleagues to protect the institution of the Senate by following due process in conducting the business of the Chamber.

The lawmaker however, said that though the development was sudden and unexpected, he had to accept the verdict of his colleagues, thanking the Senate for the opportunity given him to serve. In another development, the new Senate Majority Leader, Lawan, while appreciating his colleagues for giving him the mantle, said that his emergence after a protracted leadership crisis in the apex chamber is an act of God.

He called on the lawmakers to support him in his new capacity to deliver his responsibilities effectively and to the satisfaction of all Nigerians, stressing that his choice as the leader was the decision of his party, which he had no choice but to accept the position.

On whether his emergence signaled the end of bickering in the Senate, he explained that whatever happened in the Senate, especially by the Unity Forum, was never personal, saying: “We simply felt that what was supposed to be done should be done, and if there is conformity, there will be no animosity.”

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