For speaking against the Senate over its failure to confirm the appointment of the Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, members of the All Progressives Congress caucus in the chamber on Tuesday sacked the Majority Leader, Ali Ndume.
He was replaced with Senator Ahmed Lawan, who had been nominated by the APC to be President of the Senate, a position Senator Bukola Saraki is occupying.
Towards the end of plenary on Tuesday, Saraki, who presided over the session, read a letter written to him by the APC caucus in which its leadership was changed.
The letter read, “This is to inform Your Excellency and the Senate that after several meetings held on Monday, 9th of January, 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.”
Ndume, who rushed to the Press Centre of the Senate shortly after the announcement, said the development caught him unawares.
He said, “Let me say I don’t have much to say because I was leading the business of the Senate and when it was like 12.45pm, as usual, I asked my deputy (Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah) to stand in for me while I go to pray.
“On coming back, I discovered that the session was over and one of your colleagues (journalists) approached me and said, “Leader, what happened?” And I asked what happened and he said there was an announcement of a change of leadership. I said I didn’t know. And at this point, that is the position. I didn’t know that there was change of leadership because I was not there; I went to pray and I didn’t know what actually happened and I cannot say much than that.”
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The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Sabi Abdullahi, who also briefed journalists after the plenary, said the decision was by the APC caucus and not the Senate as a whole.
He said, “…The Senate made the announcement and the announcement is self explanatory. Another leader was announced and as far as I am concerned, it is an announcement that somebody is announced as the new leader of the majority because it is the majority leader.”
A source close to the leadership of the Senate told one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity that members of the APC caucus were angered by Ndume’s recent activities in the Senate, one of which was his stance against the lawmakers, who rejected Magu’s nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari based on a security report by the Department of State Services, which indicted the nominee.
One of the pro-Lawan group of the APC senators under the auspices of the Senate Unity, Senator Kabir Marafa, however, told a select journalists after the announcement that the step was part of the move to settle the dispute between Saraki, the Senate Unity Forum and the APC leadership.
He said, “What you have seen today is just a culmination of all the pressure mounting over time.”
When asked why members of the caucus met in Ndume’s absence on the decision to sack him, Marafa stated that the rule did not make it compulsory for the former Senate Leader to have the knowledge of his sacking.
When asked if the APC had forgiven Saraki for hijacking the leadership of the Senate from the APC, Marafa said Ndume’s sacking was part of the moves to pacify the party.
Marafa also hinted that the caucus might be moving to reclaim Ekweremadu’s seat except the Deputy Senate President defected to the APC.
When asked how the APC would reclaim Ekweremadu’s seat if he failed to join the APC, Marafa retorted, “He will!”
Meanwhile, the APC has supported the replacement of Ndume with Lawan.
The APC, in a statement on Tuesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, linked the development to the party’s efforts to resolve the crisis generated by the election of the Senate leadership.
It stated, “The party views this as concrete expression of faith by the APC Senate Caucus in our efforts to resolve the lingering issues that have trailed the election of Senate leadership.
“We believe this is a major step forward in our efforts to reunite the various interest groups in that Senate election, thereby presenting a common legislative front for our great party.”