The Nigerian Senate has affirmed the replacement of Senator Ali Ndume with Senator Ahmad Lawan, a former rival of Senator Bukola Saraki.
The move, it was gathered, was to bring peace between the APC leadership in the Senate, the executive branch and the APC national leadership. The triangular relationship had been ruptured by the insistence of Senator Saraki and the APC caucus in retaining Ndume as party leader against the party’s preference for Lawan.
Ndume was caught off guard by the action of his colleagues on the first day after resumption from the yuletide break as his colleagues played a fast one on him minutes after he had opened the business of the day and stepped out temporarily for his afternoon prayers. By the time he returned to the chambers, he had lost his position as the Senate’s number three man.
The House of Representatives, until now more accustomed to internal storms was, however, tranquil on resumption.
Senator Saraki announced the decision of the APC caucus to effect the change in the leadership of the caucus once Ndume stepped out at about 12.45 p.m. yesterday.
Reading the resolution of the APC caucus, dated January 10, 2017, entitled, “Notice of change of leadership,” Saraki said: “This is to inform Your Excellency and 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 Senate leader is now Senator Ahmad Lawan, representing Yobe North Senatorial District.”
Immediately he finished reading the letter, the deputy leader of the Senate, Senator Bala Ibn Na’allah, APC, Kebbi South, whom Ndume had asked to deputise for him while he went for his prayers, moved for the adjournment of plenary. His motion was immediately seconded by Senate Minority leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
Senator Ndume’s first knowledge of his removal came as he made his way back to the chambers and was beckoned on by reporters for his reaction to his removal.
It was gathered yesterday, that Ndume’s removal was not unconnected with the ongoing reconciliatory moves between the Senate leadership, the leadership of the APC and the executive arm of government.
Ndume had emerged as Senate Leader against the preference of the party leadership and President Muhammadu Buhari for Senator Lawan, who lost the position of Senate President to Saraki.
A senator privy to the development said the action was a follow-up to the December meeting between the APC Senate leadership and the party national leadership.
Ndume, a source said, also did not help matters for Saraki, who had been taking the bullets for him by turning against Senate resolutions as he did with the matter of Mr. Ibrahim Magu, Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, when he implied the Senate would still confirm him.
His relationship with senators was further strained at the Monday night meeting, where the plot was hatched.
Sources also disclosed that senators were not completely satisfied with his role in the handling of the allegations raised against the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal, arising from alleged misuse of the funds meant for Internally Displaced Persons , IDPs, in the North East.
Reacting to his removal, Ndume at a press briefing, 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 went to pray.
“On coming back I discovered that the session was 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 on 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.”
It was learnt that as the plot was about to be hatched that a move to offer Ndume the option of resigning was rebuffed by him.