Gov. Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has applauded Sen. Danjuma Goje (APC-Gombe Central) for stepping down for Sen. Ahmad Lawan (APC-Yobe) in the race for the Presidency of the 9th Senate.
El-Rufai spoke with State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja after he, Lawan, Goje and Senator-elect, Uba Sani (APC-Kaduna Central) emerged from a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday.
He said that Goje had withdrawn from the race for Senate Presidency and endorsed the candidacy of the Lawan, who was the preferred candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“We discussed steps to unify our leadership in the National Assembly, starting with the senate.
“I am very pleased to announce that distinguished Sen. Goje has agreed to fully endorse and support the choice of the party and that of the President within the Senate; that is Sen. Lawan.
“We are very grateful to Goje for his sacrifice, patience; this discussion has been going on for a long time and I am honoured to be part of it and I am grateful to him for recognizing the many years we have worked together when he was a minister.
“I know him to be a man of impeccable integrity and a man of his word and I am very honoured that he has come to see the president and to conclude this matter once and for all,’’ he said.
On his part, Goje thanked his supporters and associates across the country, who had been urging him to declare for the Senate Presidency.
He said that, as an elder statesman in the Senate for a long time, he should be able to appreciate leadership coming from the party elders.
Goje said that in spite of the calls from his supporter, he had because of his loyalty to the president and for the interest of the party, decided to step down from the race.
“Instead, I am supporting the party’s position thereby endorsing the candidature of Sen. Lawan.
“I am not compelled to step down; I have been winning elections many times from local government to house of assembly, to the national assembly to governorship and I was also a minister.
“To say that I have been threatened to support somebody, no! I am supporting Lawan based on my own conviction that I am doing the right thing for our country, for our president,’’ he said.
Speaking, Lawan thanked Buhari, El-Rufai, and Goje for the making agreement possible.
He said that the endorsement by Sen. Goje was going to bring so much unity in the APC and indeed in the entire Senate in a bi-partisan fashion.
“I believe that is the way to go, we want to go to the ninth Senate focused and united right from the outset, kick start our activities which is very important at this time.
“The country needs a senate that is focused and united for optimum performance and I believe that the senators-elect will be happy to hear that this has been achieved.
“I want to thank Sen. Goje, he is very experienced politician like he has said; he has been in this business much longer and than most of us really.
“I respect him; even when there were so many clamours for him to run for the position of the president of the senate, he never came out to publicly to declare.
“Even though he had enormous respect and following, he has willingly chosen to respect the wishes of the party and president, is the best position any politician could take,’’ he said.
He thanked those who had been working behind the scene to try and broker the understanding, adding that the race had been changed for the better.