A contestant for the position of president of the Senate in the incoming 9th session of the National Assembly, Ali Ndume, has said declaring a candidate for the seat as the favourite of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), is in the breach of Nigerian constitution and that of the party.
Mr Ndume said what was needed for the party was to treat all members equally and provide an atmosphere for free contest among qualified lawmakers, as provided by its constitution.
Mr Ndume, who represents Borno South in the Senate, is in a close contest with Ahmed Lawal, the incumbent Senate leader who is the favoured candidate of the APC.
“I am confident of winning. Anytime I do the numbers I see it and I am confident that we will get there. My colleagues are in my support,” the third-term senator said.
“What the party, or the party chairman wants to do is wrong. It is only patriotic for me to say this is wrong, and it should change.
“I am only hoping that the national chairman will rescind on his decision to impose a candidate, to anoint a candidate or even to recommend a particular candidate because it contravenes the party constitution, it also contravenes the national constitution, and it also runs against natural justice,” he said.
Mr Ndume said recommending or insisting on any person against another is discriminatory and therefore in breach of principles of equality and freedom of participation.
He said if free and fair contest were to be allowed, he was convinced that he has the backing of his colleagues to emerge president of the 9th Senate.
Mr Lawal was announced as the preferred candidate of the APC, the party with the majority in the Senate, by the party’s national chairman, Adams Oshimhole. There are however fears that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may go into an alliance that could unsettle APC’s planned installing of Mr Lawal.
Mr Ndume was removed as the leader of the Senate and eventually placed on six months suspension for going against the Senate’s position on the appointment of government’s anti-corruption chief, Ibrahim Magu.
He said he does not regret that decision to stand by President Muhammadu Buhari on that appointment and other decisions, which earned him the wrath of his colleagues.
“I want to say, without any fear of contradiction, that if you are to classify people that are so committed to the party and Mr President, I can be counted among them.
“When the Senate President tried to veer off from supporting Mr President, I stood against that. My stance on the confirmation of Magu was what caused me my seat. I stood firmly for Mr President and the party on the confirmation.
“As the Senate leader, I made sure that every nominee of Mr President was confirmed. During Magu’s case, it was the same thing. It was because of that I was removed as the Senate Leader. That did not deter me. I continued to stand with Mr President and I will continue to stand with Mr President in and out of government,” he said.