An aspirant for the position of the President of the Senate in the 9th National Assembly, Senator Ali Ndume, has said he was open to a consensus.
While vowing not to step down for Ahmad Lawan, the anointed candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ndume accused his party of imposition, saying he could only reconsider his Senate presidential bid if there was a consensus among the aspirants.
The three contenders, who are all from the North-East geopolitical zone, where the ruling party zoned the seat, are Lawan (Yobe State), Ndume (Borno State) and Danjuma Goje (Gombe State).
Asked if he would consider working with Goje against Lawan on the Senate presidential bid, Ndume said he would rather opt for a consensus among the three aspirants.
The former majority leader said, “The three of us are eminently qualified. If the leadership is to be determined by consensus, I am open to consensus but I am up against imposition or asking anybody to step down.
“We have left our door open because all of us cannot be Senate President; one must be. And if one must be, there are two ways that can happen: one is that we can agree within ourselves and the other is for us to go for election.
“As for me, that was supposed to be the first thing the party should have done.”
Speaking for Goje, the convener of the North-East Consultative Forum, Muslim Maigari, stated that the lawmaker would not quit the Senate presidential race.
“No, he will not. We, his supporters and admirers, are not in support of any move under whatever name calling on him to step down. We are not in support of that move, we are urging and encouraging him to remain firm in this race,” Maigari stated.
The lawyer accused the APC of trying to impose Lawan on the Senate while harassing members of the party into backing the party’s candidate.
Meanwhile, investigations by The Punch have revealed that Senators Danjuma Goje and Ali Ndume have started wooing the newly elected and re-elected governors of the PDP to boost their chances.
A senator-elect from the North-East who is close to one of the aspirants said that the talks were ongoing and that it had yielded positive results.
He said, “We are achieving progress with our interactions with the senators-elect across party lines. We are also talking to the governors, especially those from the opposition because of their influence.
“The governors know we have a genuine intention and they have assured us of their cooperation. We have also told them that all senators from their states will be effectively engaged at the leadership and committee levels.”
An associate of Goje, who is an outgoing senator, told Saturday PUNCH on condition of anonymity that the former Gombe State governor would formally declare his ambition before May 29.
He said, “There is no doubt that he (Goje) will contest for the position of Senate President on the day of inauguration. He already has a solid support base that would guarantee his victory.
“He will declare his ambition publicly before May 29. It would surprise you to know that President Muhammadu Buhari will not raise any eyebrow because he believes in the independence of the federal legislature.”