Ali Ndume’s Removal: Party politics or Political game? –Ishola Adebayo

Jan. 13, 2017

Controversies continue to trail the removal of Senator Ali Ndume (Borno South) as the senate leader upon the resumption of the Nigerian Senate from recess for the New Year holiday. “I don’t know what happened and I cannot say what I do not know,” Ndume told reporters after he was removed as the senate majority leader.

During its plenary session, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, announced Mr. Ndume’s removal shortly before the upper legislative chamber adjourned on Tuesday. Saraki read a letter from the All Progressives Congress caucus of the red chamber, asking for leadership change. Interestingly, Senator Ali Ndume had stepped out of the chamber to observe his early afternoon prayer when Mr. Saraki read the letter. According to the APC caucus, the decision was taken during the party’s caucus meeting held on Monday, January 9th.

According to the APC caucus, Ndume should be replaced with Ahmed Lawan from Yobe North, who contested against Saraki for the post of the Senate President at the in-house election in 2015.

Just like English Proverb would say, “there is no smoke without fire”, the removal of Ndume is prone to political calculations. Mr. Ndume’s predicament might not be unconnected to the Senate’s rejection of President Buhari’s nomination of Mr. Ibrahim Magu as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Mr. Ndume had claimed the Senate did not reject the request, prompting a counter reaction by Senate spokesperson, Aliyu Abdullahi. It appears Mr. Ndume, who hails from Borno State, like Mr. Magu, is being punished for disagreeing with the Senate over the way the EFCC acting Chairman’s nomination was handled by the upper legislative chamber.

But really, Ndume has a point, even if he is protecting the interest of his kinsman. The Senate cannot reject the nomination of a person if the affected party is yet to clear the grounds on any allegation leveled against him. As it stands, Magu is yet to be invited to clarify issues against his personality. Well, the Caucus has the final say on this matter. What really can a tree do to fight other trees in the forest? Hon. Jibrin’s case is a perfect example.

However, the political game behind his removal is somehow obvious. If Ndume is going against the wish of the caucus, why was he replaced with Lawan? Lawan who lost against Saraki? Is this really a form of political compensation? Undoubtedly, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been trying to hold itself in this present time of internal turbulence and it can be seen that this move is indeed to pacify the Lawan’s group. If not for the obvious display of calculation, he should have been duly replaced with another person.

Saraki, probably under the pressure of removal, obviously has to dance to their tunes because he won the election with the help of the opposition party, PDP. The same scenario which happened at the level of the House of Representatives where Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, who also lost to Yakubu Dogara, was made the House Leader.

In a bid to maintain the house leadership, another feeling is that if the Deputy Senate President remains in PDP for a while, it is likely they replace him with an APC Senator. Who knows, maybe Senator Magnus Abe who is from the South-South region? Call it another round of political pressure; this may also be linked to the passing of the 2017 budget and even the forthcoming general election.

In conclusion, all can still be linked to internal politics. Obviously, APC politically compensated Ahmed Lawan, all in a bid to ensure the party stands unified. There is an English saying, “united we stand, divided we fall”. If such happens not, just like the Gbajabiamilia/Dogara case, APC may never have the political unification they need in order to respond to the coming external political pressures. So as it stands, APC has finally harmonize the leadership tussle in both legislative chamber. As for Senator Ndume, it’s high time he sheathed his sword as it is obvious that no one would fight the party for him, he was unanimously removed by the Caucus as many APC Senators were said to have endorsed the letter before it was forwarded to Saraki for announcement. He, consciously or unconsciously, played into their political game in the Magu’s case, which gave the Senators perfect chance to replace him with Lawan. Ndume has been “offered as a political sacrifice” and as it stands there is no going back. The interest of the party supersedes that of an individual.

At this point in time of national life, enough of this party politics imbroglio and President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration needs to move Nigeria from the current economic doldrums without delay and not unwarranted distractions from his party stalwarts.