Ali Ndume, former Senate Majority Leader, has expressed shock at the insistence of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to stick with Ahmad Lawan, representing Yobe North, for the position of Senate President in the Ninth National Assembly.
In a chat with The Punch, Ndume said the decision came as a shock to him especially after he had been endorsed by President Muhammadu Buhari and Bola Tinubu, National Leader of the APC.
He said the action of the party, allegedly influenced by Adams Oshiomhole, the party’s National Chairman, could lead to a repeat of what happened at the last senate in which Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu emerged Senate President and Deputy respectively.
He added that the party could have, at least, sought to know the choice of the lawmakers before declaring Lawan the anointed candidate.
“The decision by the party to settle for an individual instead of zoning the position of Senate President to a particular geopolitical zone, and also failing to consult senators from that zone to decide who among them they want or they prefer as the candidate for the Senate President and who will ultimately lead to election on the floor of the Senate, came to me by surprise.
“The National Chairman of our party just informed us that a decision has been taken to nominate Ahmad Lawan as the candidate of the North-East for the position of the Senate President. I am surprised and shocked, and I believe that the feelings of my colleagues right now are still that of shock,” he said.
Ndume said the party’s actions was contrary to Section 50 1(A) which said leaders of the senate would be voted by members of the national assembly.
He urged the party to follow the democratic process of election of senate president.
“The normal tradition or the constitutional provision for the emergence of the leadership of the Senate or National Assembly is clearly spelt out in the constitution. Section 50 (1A) of the constitution says that there shall be the Senate President and Deputy Senate President who shall be elected by the members of the House amongst themselves and Section 1 of the constitution clearly states that this constitution is binding on all Nigerians and government agencies and it also went further to state that any other law that contradicts the provisions of the constitution is null and void.
“To that extent and as a party that is supposed to be democratic and as a government that normally insists on allowing due process to prevail, it should have engaged the critical stakeholders before taking such decision because that is how candidates of the APC in all elections, normally emerge. It is either by consensus, indirect or direct primaries,” he said.
He warned the party that imposing candidates on the senate often had a disastrous ending.
“If you look at the history of the National Assembly, such action, normally do not go down well with members. In 1999, Evans Enwerem was imposed, he did not last.
“After that, Wabara was also imposed and he did not last. The PDP then, that we accuse of impunity did not do what the APC did on Monday. In 2003, the PDP showed wisdom by opening up the contest by just zoning the position to the North-Central and that led to the contest between David Mark and George Akume.
“Because that process was democratic, David Mark lasted two terms peacefully. I don’t think what happened on Monday has improved on the process but rather, worsened it,” he said.
On what his next move would be, Ndume said he was going to consult Borno elders on what to do next.