On Tuesday, June 11 Senator Ali Ndume will plot to avenge the loss he suffered two years ago to closest rival, Senator Ahmed Lawan from Yobe state who robbed him of the prestigious position of Senate Leader.
Lawan’s tenure as Leader of the Red Chamber ended last Thursday June 7.
For the two political rivals, the contest for Senate President is both of ego and prestige as they will be fighting the battle of their lives.
Tinubu and Saraki Battle For Relevance
Their supporters are also not leaving anything to chances.
Whatever happens on Tuesday will mar or make the political career of the two political titans.
More importantly, the winner of the titanic contest will determine the political influence of Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu who because of his interest in who becomes the leader of the nation’s National Assembly, had relocated to the nation’s capital.
Another important party in the make or mar contest is Senator Bukola Saraki who sources said, has simply stayed back in the FCT, after his tenure as President of the Senate ended last Thursday, June 6, to back a particular candidate.
“Asiwaju is doing all in his powers to forestall a repetition of what happened in 2015. Once beaten, twice shy, we are going all out this time to make sure Lawan got it” one very close politician to Tinubu told the magazine in Abuja.
Head or tail, either Lawan or Ndume will become the President of the Ninth Senate.
This became so following the decision of Mohammed Goje to step down from the race last week.
Goje, a former governor of Gombe state, we recalled, took the decision not to run after he had a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
The ex- governor has since endorsed Lawan who is President Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC candidate for the nation’s number three citizen’s job.
Recall also that an earlier rapprochement President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had with Senator Ndume failed make him stepped down for Lawan.
60 Senators Support Me – Lawan
The bulky senator has recently boasted that he has the support of 60 out of the 105 senators across party lines backing his ambition.
“I want to thank PDP senators, some of whom have publicly declared for us, while many of them are working behind the scenes for us. It’s strategic that we didn’t include PDP senators-elect names.
But I know that out of the 44 PDP senators-elect, we can’t have less than 35 to 38. “I want to pay tributes to Sen Ifeanyi Ubah for his support. For my colleagues in the APC, this is the first time that members of the National Assembly either in the Senate or House will come together to endorse a candidate this way.
I thank you all for this endorsements,” Sen Jibrin Barau, the spokesman of Lawan campaign said at a press briefing in Abuja last week.
High Intrigues of Cash Politics
But as it’s, serious horse-trading, the magazine has learned is still on going as the two candidates are making the last ditched effort to rally support for their candidature.
It was learned last night from credible sources that money is playing a big role in this contest.
“For the House of Representatives, the sponsors of Gbajabiamila and Bago, who are contesting for the Speaker are spending as much as N25m to woo lawmakers. The Senate is a bit higher, because the stakes are more in the upper chamber,” the source said.
The insider disclosed to the magazine that “each senator is being given close to N30 by both candidates contesting for the office. Apart from this, the contestants are banking on their goodwill to get the support of their colleagues,” the source said.
Whatever assurances Ndume and Lawan have secured among other senators for their quest to succeeded Saraki, a former governor of Kwara state will be put to test on Tuesday.
Buhari Issues Proclamation For 9th Senate
Last week, President Buhari made a proclamation to end the 8th Senate and the start of 9th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Plot To Amend Senate Rule Thickens
Sources close to the National Assembly told the magazine that a high wire intrigues is currently ongoing in both camps on how to use the Senate standing rule to favour each of the candidates.
The current rules allow senators to vote secretly.
Attempts to change the rule by those said to be disposed to Lawan presidency had earlier been rebuffed by his opponents.
“Top notch in the APC and presidency are still trying to get the rules amended. Because in that sense Lawan will stand a better chance, as no APC senator will risk voting against the party’s candidate for fear of being sanctioned,” the source said.
He explained that ”most senators are still prepared to vote their conscience in spite of the monetary gratifications. But that will only be possible when they are allowed to vote through secret ballot.”
Those close to Ndume told the magazine that the former senate leader is banking on ‘this lacuna’ to pull off a surprise.
Recall that the senator from Borno state has disclosed that the real battle for senate president will be fought on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday when the 9th Senate is expected to have its first plenary session.
Ndume was responding to Lawan who claimed to have secured and sealed deal with 60 APC and PDP senators.
Lawan has even gone ahead to publish the names of the senators backing his ambition.
It’s Fight To Finish- Ndume
Ndume said Well, I’ve said before that I am not looking for endorsement but looking for votes on election day. You know clearly that there is a difference between endorsement and election,” Ndume told reporters.
We have seen endorsements against several elections.
We are there already and it shall become past in a question of hours from now.
I believe that my colleagues shall vote according to their conscience and they shall vote for a candidate that is more suitable for the position of the senate president.
I am not bothered about endorsement rather, I am more worried about the election.
As I’ve said, I shall go into the election on Tuesday and it shall have two sides; it is either one loses or wins.
I do my numbering too, but I do my numbering not by publishing my colleagues’ names.”
PDP Senators Polarized
To make up his number, the bespectacled Ndume is banking on the support of PDP senators and other turncoat senators from the APC who are not happy with their party’s choice of Lawan.
Last week, the PDP held a meeting with its senators on which of the candidate to support.
“The party has made it clear to us that Lawan is not the option despite the decision of some few PDP senators to back the APC candidate. We are keeping our plan close to our chest,” PDP senator who attended the meeting said.