Ali Ndume, the lawmaker representing Borno South senatorial district, says he sought the permission of President Muhammadu Buhari to run for Senate President, long before the February 23 elections.
He also said he did not rebuff any persuasion from Yemi Osinbajo, Nigeria’s Vice-President, to abandon his ambition in the Senate, because he was never persuaded to do so.
Ndume, an aspirant for the office of Senate President in the 9th National Assembly, said this in in reaction to allegations that he was being persuaded by the Vice-President to give up on running for the position of the Senate President.
His party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), has, however, endorsed Ahmed Lawan, the Senate Majority Leader, as Senate President.
Speaking on his recent visit to Osinbajo, on which there were speculations that the meeting was about his aspiration to run for Senate President, a statement by Ndume read: “It was a misinformation. The truth is it is usual for me to meet with the vice-president to discuss issues of common interest, especially the humanitarian crisis in the North East, of which the vice-president has shown exceptional interest in helping out.
“I normally go there to brief him on developments in the region, especially the performance of the orphanage scheme, which he initiated in Borno that is accommodating over 1,200 orphans – their education and welfare.
“And then, we also discussed general issues that affect the country as well as the way forward on the humanitarian crisis especially the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and not just in Borno State but also IDPs situations all over the country.
“I think it is a spin from a well-known quarters. Personally, l am a committed Buharist. Whether I become the senate president or not, I will continue to stand by him, defend his policies because I see him as a mentor. And I believe that Mr. President has nothing against my aspiration for the office of the senate president because I sought his permission long before the general election and he gave me his go-ahead. I have not heard anything otherwise from him.
“I believe he will not go against my aspiration, because as he said, he belongs to everybody and belongs to nobody. And he sticks to that. I am sure that the least he can do is to allow the constitution, which he strongly believes in, and the rule of law to prevail in the emergence of the senate leadership.
“So, I want to use this opportunity to clear the air as to those that are trying to cause disaffection.”
Ndume assured the APC leadership of his commitment to party ideals and doing what is right, in line with the party's constitution and the constitution of Nigeria.
He added: “What I am doing now is to strengthen democracy, to, in fact, improve on or deepen democracy and to stand by what APC believes in. Mr. President stood for election. It was open. He contested against three people. And even when it was zoned outside our zone, Mr. President allowed a level playing ground. Okorocha contested.
“During his second term, he subjected himself to the process of democracy that led to his emergence. During our gubernatorial elections, he came clearly to say people should be allowed to elect persons of their choice even in his own case. So, I will be surprised if anything otherwise comes from him."