The configuration of the elite alignment and re-alignment, horse trading, bargaining and trade off for the election of the presiding officers of the ninth national Assembly indicated that former President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, played crucial role delivering the ‘power house’ of the federal legislature to ensure the victory of his successor, Ahmad Lawan, in the election of the senate president,National Daily investigation reveals. The action was, however, contrary to the endorsement of Senator Ali Ndume for Senate President in the election heralding the inauguration of the ninth National Assembly on June 11 by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leadership.
National Daily inquiry revealed that the PDP leaders did not consult widely before arriving at the decision to endorse Ndume for Senate President. The party leaders played deeper opposition politics in the endorsement of Ndume than making wide consultations and considering broad issues.
Party sources told National Daily that the old wounds Ndume created when he was Senate Majority Leader which led to his removal and replacement with Senator Ahmad Lawan, was not healed unto the period of Ndume’s campaign for the senate president. Most of the actions of Ndume when he was Senate Leader were considered treacherous; betraying the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly to the President; instigating opposition and conflicts within the hegemonic oligarchy in the federal legislature. The senator played his game to the point that he was suspected to be deliberately disrupting and sabotaging the Senate to please and get favour from President Muhammadu Buhari.
Sources from the National Assembly told National Dailythat at a time the senator was suspected to be conspiring to dethrone Saraki and takeover the leadership of the Senate with the support of President Buhari.
Saraki, according to our sources, deployed his political sagacity to negotiate with Lawan, who was being sponsored by APC leaders for the Senate Majority Leader after the contest for Senate President failed. The two senators were gathered to have reached a long term agreement which dovetailed into the ninth National Assembly if Saraki does not return to the federal legislature.
The negotiation led to the removal of Ndume as Senate Majority Leader and being replaced with Lawan.
National Daily learned that while the likes of Senator Marafa and others were spitting fire, battling to dethrone Saraki during the initial conflicts that engulfed the Senate, Lawan had positioned himself for the Senate President in the ninth National Assembly if Saraki does not return after the 2019 general elections. The agreement that brought Lawan up as Senate Leader was said to have made Lawan an alternative Senate President if Saraki was brought down by his antagonists who were using federal might which included the presidency, the police, the DSS, EFCC, the CCB, CCT and the judiciary in fighting for President Buhari and the APC. Invariably, Lawan was the most reliable and trusted apparent heir to the throne of the senate president in the absence of Saraki.
Throughout the eight National Assembly, Lawan, besides legislative duties to defend the ruling party’s interests, was seldom involved in the caustic affronts on the senate president. He remained a gentleman who was solely confined to the national duty he was mandated by his people in Yobe to perform in the National Assembly than engaging in fighting the leadership of the legislature. He further helped in assuaging and prevailing on APC senators to shield their swords and allow peace return to the senate.
The former senate president, our sources said, rarely trusts or has confidence in Ndume and hardly will ever trust him. The fear that Ndume may fight back has always been there in their relationship.
Since his removal and replacement with Lawan as senate president, Ndume has persistently shown unmitigated aggression against Senate President Saraki. Such a lawmaker can seldom be entrusted with the mantle of leadership of the Senate to succeed the same person who has been the target of his attacks.
National Assembly sources revealed that Saraki has strong influence on many senators across party lines – in the PDP and APC.
National Daily investigation revealed that Ndume worked assiduously to convince 10 APC senators to join him in the alliance with PDP senators to defeat Lawan. National Dailygathered that if the PDP had delivered the party’s bloc votes of the 44 senators during the election of the presiding officers of the senate, Ndume bringing his 10 APC senators plus himself would have won the election in which 107 senators participated in the secret open ballot voting process. But majority of PDP senators had delivered their votes to Lawan sponsored by APC. The Saraki support was widely believed to have preponderantly influenced the senators voting pattern. Thus, Lawan got 79 of the 107 votes to defeat Ndume who had 28 votes in the senate president election.
Unfortunately, the PDP senators could make speedy adjustment during the legislative session after the senate president election before voting in the deputy senate president election. Only a few returned home to support former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who lost to Senator Ovie Omo-Agege of the APC.
National Assembly sources further revealed to National Daily that more APC senators even voted for Ekweremadu but more PDP senators also abandoned him to vote the APC candidate, Omo-Agege, for the deputy senate president. Thus, Ekweremadu got 37 votes in his defeat by Omo-Agege of the APC who had 68 votes in the election participated by 105 senators. One senator had abstained after the senate president election while one vote was declared invalid. This accounted for the shortage of two senators in the deputy senate president election.
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Ekweremadu was identified to be on both sides of the negotiations and alliances for the deputy senate president slot. He was reported to have held meeting with Lawan in the build up to the inauguration of the ninth National Assembly and mobilization of support for the election of the senate president. The former deputy senate president was believed to have cut good deal in that negotiation to retain his office in the ninth senate. On the PDP template, Ekweremadu also got endorsement to retain his office.
Party sources, again, toldNational Daily that Ekweremadu’s strong attachment to Saraki who was perceived to have alternative arrangement to the PDP decision, made some PDP senators abandon his and stood firmly with the APC candidate in the deputy senate president election. Some PDP senators were said to have deliberately engaged in protest vote in the deputy senate president election.
Ekweremadu was identified to have remained strongly on the side of Saraki in all the negotiations and horse trading.
“Generally, Ndume’s failure to reach out to Saraki, personally, and appeal for reconciliation, more than anything else, cost him the senate president,” our sources declared. The sources, however, maintained that the initiative may probably not have made much impact, noting that Saraki was not likely to renege on his long term agreement with Lawan who worked at the initial stage of the eighth National Assembly to assuage the attacks from APC senators against him in the Senate, having assured him of delivering the political machine of the National Assembly to him in return; while Lawan also guaranteed protection of his predecessor, thereafter. All the options of the deal, our National Assembly sources said, ultimately played out in the post-2019 general elections.
The commitment to the agreement was said to have made Senate President Lawan retain four media aides of former Senate President Saraki, an action that has been generating apprehension and conflagration in the APC. However, Lawan has been adjusting to the contentious appointment of Saraki’s media aides who are gradually being eased out.
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