APC Senate caucus sacks leader Ali Ndume
Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume was removed yesterday as the Senate Leader.
Ndume, who represents Borno South Senatorial District, was replaced by Senator Ahmed Lawan (Yobe North).
The change in leadership was said to have been concluded and sealed at a meeting of All Progressives Congress (APC) Senate Caucus held in Abuja on Monday.
Ndume however claimed not to be aware of his sack. He was removed when he left the chamber to pray.
Ndume’s replacement was contained in a letter addressed to Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki by the All Progressives Congress (APC) Senate caucus.
The letter, which was read on the floor of the Senate by Saraki, took many senators by surprise.
There was pin-drop silence in the chamber as Saraki read the two-paragraph letter.
Entitled “Notice of change of leadership” the letter reads: “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 wish 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. Kindly accept our esteem regards and best assurances.”
Many APC senators were said to have endorsed the letter before it was forwarded to Saraki for announcement.
It was not immediately clear what led to Ndume’s sudden removal. He is seen by many as being close to Saraki.
Some insiders traced Ndume’s travail to his press conference at the Presidential Villa where he distanced himself from the resolution of the Senate to reject the nomination of Mr. Ibrahim Magu as the Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Ndume said the Senate did not actually reject Magu’s nomination was counted as one of the sins of the Borno South lawmaker.
The Senate, through its spokesman, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, disowned Ndume and restated its resolve to reject Magu’s nomination.
Some other observers traced Ndume’s removal to the cold war between the two main camps in the Senate – the Senate Unity Forum led by Senator Barnabas Gemade and the Like Minds Senators led by Saraki.
Although Gemade was visible in the affairs of the Senate Unity Forum, Lawan was considered the unseen hand driving the activities of the Forum.
Ndume’s removal, it was gathered, was part of a deal reached by the Senate Unity Forum and Like Minds senators to close ranks.
After Saraki’s announcement, Ndume apparently shocked, rushed to address reporters over the incident.
He said he was not consulted before he was fired.
Ndume 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 go 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 an announcement of 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 to pray and I didn’t know what actually happened and I cannot say more than that.”
Prodded to throw more light on what could have led to his removal, Ndume insisted that he was not consulted before the decision was taken.
“I don’t know what happened and I cannot say what I do not know,” he said.
Told that technically he had been fired, Ndume said: “Nobody has told me anything.”
Abdullahi told reporters that with the announcement of Lawan, Ndume ceased to be the Senate Leader.
Abdullahi said: “I speak for the Senate. You heard the content of the letter from the APC caucus. I am not the spokesman of the APC caucus, but I am a member and I am here to speak for the Senate. It will be very difficult for me and I do not want to find myself in this controversy.
“The announcement is self-explanatory. Another leader was announced and as far as I am concerned, the new name announced is the leader of the majority and automatically the Senate Leader.”
Senator Kabiru Marafa, a close ally of Senator Lawan who spoke on Ndume’s removal, noted that APC factions in the Senate agreed to remove him.
The Zamfara Central lawmaker noted that Ndume’s removal was also in line with Order 36 (g) of the Senate Standing Rules.
Marafa said majority of APC senators endorsed the letter to remove Ndume as Senate Leader.
He said: “Anybody who wished APC well wanted these changes in the Senate. What you have, seen today is a culmination of all the consultations and pressure that have been held by APC senators.
“Our Standing Rules has specified how to remove the leadership of a party in the Senate. At the meeting where Ndume was removed, majority of APC lawmakers agreed.”
On Ndume’s claim that he was not consulted before his removal, Marafa said: “Ndume does not need to know or be there. The Standing Rules says that the party has the rights to remove anybody. The majority accepted and that is final.”
Marafa hinted that the next target of the APC caucus might be the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu.
He said the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senator should quickly defect to the APC to save his seat.
Marafa said: “I am using this forum to ask the DSP Ike Ekweremadu to defect to the APC. It is not normal that you will count the Senate President as APC, Senate Leader as APC and then you count the Deputy Senate President as PDP. Senator Ekweremadu should simply come over to APC and everything will be over.”