Olusola Fabiyi, Olalekan Adetayo and Sunday Aborisade
A former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, on Tuesday dared the leaders of the All Progressives Congress, including President Muhammadu Buhari, and the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, by unfolding his agenda as a candidate for the Senate presidency in the ninth National Assembly.
The party leadership had last week endorsed the Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, as the Senate president.
But on Tuesday, despite the stand of the party, Ndume went ahead to unveil his nine-point agenda if elected as the next Senate president on June 9.
The Borno South senator in a document, a copy of which was made available to one of our correspondents in Abuja, promised to improve upon the performance of the 8th Senate.
He also pledged to make the office of the Senate President less attractive by reducing the unnecessary privileges attached to it.
The former Senate majority leader pledged to uphold the independence of the legislature and expressed his willingness to “work harmoniously and inter-dependently with the executive without undermining the principle of separation of powers.”
Ndume said he would prioritise and ensure the passage of the Constituency Development Bill to make “constituency projects more transparent, accountable, efficient and effective.”
He said the Senate would agree on timelines for confirmation, passage of bills especially the annual budgets, which he said, would not exceed 90 days from the day of submission.
Ndume added, “We will make laws that will block leakages devise improved means of generating revenue, especially through the amendment and review of our tax laws which will help to reduce reliance on local and foreign loans to finance budget.
“We will run the 9th Senate transparently, through open accountability with full participation of all senators .For example, we will transfer the approving powers of the privileges of the senators like foreign travels, allowances to Senate services committee or a new committee to be known as “ways and means committee.”
He also said that his presidency would uphold the party’s principles and policies and that the Senate under him would make laws and review existing ones in tandem with the APC’s Next Level agenda for Nigeria.
Recall that the APC national chairman, had at a meeting with the House of Representatives members-elect last week, said the party had endorsed Lawan as the Senate president.
But Ndume in his reaction said Oshiomhole unilaterally picked Lawan without the backing of the party.
The spokesman for the APC, Lanre Isa-Onilu, however, faulted Ndume, saying, “The ticket he (Ndume) is holding belongs to the APC and he cannot go and work with the opposition to give what belongs to the APC to the opposition, like it happened in 2015 when the position of the Deputy Senate President was given to the opposition by some desperate former members of the APC.
“Ndume will be wrong to be calling out the party’s national chairman. The national chairman spoke on behalf of the party. And when we talk of the party in this instance, it is not just about the NWC.
“The President (Muhammadu Buhari) was there when he said it. He did not say anything that the President was not aware of. He did not say anything that the leaders of the APC are not already part of.”
Our leaders will take a decision on Ndume, says APC
However, Isa-Onilu on Tuesday said the party hierarchy would meet and take a decision on Ndume’s declaration.
He expressed the hope that the issue would be resolved since negotiation was ongoing.
“The party will look into it and a decision will be taken. Remember that consultation is still ongoing,” Issa-Onilu told one of our correspondents shortly after Ndume made his public declaration.
When asked how soon the party would take a decision on the matter, the APC spokesman said, “We are not putting a timeline on when the decision will be taken.”
Ndume, others should be allowed to test their popularity – PDP
But the PDP on Tuesday called on the APC and the President to allow members of the National Assembly to elect their leaders.
It also said that both the President and the ruling party must allow democracy to thrive in the National Assembly.
The former ruling party insisted that it would be wrong for the APC and the President to force leaders on the lawmakers, saying Ndume and others should be allowed to test their popularity among their colleagues.
The National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, who spoke with one of our correspondents on Ndume’s declaration, however, said that his party had yet to take any decision on who to support.
Secondus said, “We believe in multiplicity of ideas. Democracy is having more than one option. Though consensus is part of democracy, when that is not achievable, every contestant or interested person must be allowed to test their popularity. That is the beauty of democracy.
“It is wrong to force lawmakers or coerce them to follow a particular road or a particular candidate who they do not have confidence in. The President and his party should not plant moles as the leaders of the National Assembly.”
Secondus, therefore, asked the members of the National Assembly, especially the senators, to follow their conscience in choosing who would lead them.
“Senator Ali Ndume and other members of the Senate who are qualified to run for the office of the President of the Senate should be allowed to test their popularity,” he added.