Senator representing Borno South District in the 10th National Assembly, Ali Ndume, has revealed that President Bola Tinubu “sneaked out” and “begged” some members-elect of the 10th Senate before their inauguration on Tuesday to support his preferred candidates for principal positions.
Ndume, who is one of the few “landlords” left in the National Assembly (NASS) having been a federal lawmaker for 20 years, stated this on Channels Television’s Politics Today programme on Tuesday hours after the inauguration of the 10th NASS and the election of principal officers.
All four candidates endorsed by Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress (APC) swept the top four seats in the 10th NASS on Tuesday.
Godswill Akpabio was elected Senate President after defeating Abdul’aziz Yari, who is also an APC member. The former Akwa Ibom governor was returned elected as President of the 10th Senate after scoring 63 votes defeating Senator Yari who scored 46 votes.
Also, Jibrin Barau, who represents Kano North Senatorial District, emerged unopposed as Senate Deputy President, succeeding Ovie Omo-Agege.
For the House of Representatives, a member from Zaria Federal Constituency in Kaduna State, Tajudeen Abbas, was elected Speaker just as a member representing Bende Federal Constituency in Abia State, Benjamin Kalu emerged the Deputy Speaker.
After his election as Senate President on Tuesday, Akpabio, who represents Akwa Ibom North-West District, visited Tinubu at Aso Villa for some post-victory talks and celebrations.
How Tinubu Rallied Lawmakers
Speaking on Channels Television’s Politics Today programme hours after the day’s business, Ndume said he wasn’t afraid that things would go in the direction of Yari.
Ndume, who was the Director General of Akpabio’s Campaign Team for Senate President, said he worked closely with other veterans and experienced lawmakers like the Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodimma; former Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi; and ex-Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole; amongst other powerbrokers.
Continuing, the Senator said, “Also, interesting as at this (Tuesday) morning when we closed our meeting in the morning today, we did a real analysis and we came up with 62 and we got 63.”
He said Tinubu’s moves with the execution committee of the APC helped in the victory of the party’s preferred candidates on Tuesday.
“So many factors helped from the outside and it is usual. When I contested last time (in 2019), everybody was on the other side in the government because the President or the government or the party then endorsed Ahmad Lawan,” Ndume said.
“It is almost a repetition of the same thing. The party and the President had a preferred candidate but this President (Tinubu) because he is (an) experienced politician played a lot of politics in it. So, he deployed his foot soldiers to complement our (Akpabio’s campaign team) efforts and that made a difference.
“The Vice President was on it. He (Tinubu) himself was calling on some people.”
When Channels TV anchor, Seun Okinbaloye asked Ndume whether Tinubu indeed spoke with some lawmakers on the matter, the Senator said, “Yeah, he (Tinubu) went to some people even. It’s politics. He sneaked out and visited some people, begged them to support him. He has his reasons and there were convincing: get somebody from South-South to be the Senate President because the South-South didn’t have it since 1999 and now we have made history.”
Fight To The Finish
The contest on Tuesday was between Yari, a former governor of Zamfara State and Akpabio, a former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and ex-governor of Akwa Ibom State.
Akpabio and Yari are top-ranking chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC). The former Zamfara governor had before now protested the endorsement of the the former minister by the party and asked that the endorsement be reviewed but the APC did not shift ground.
Scores of APC Senators in Yari’s camp had also rejected the party’s position and called for a review of the formula, arguing that the North-West gave the President the highest vote and therefore deserves to be compensated.
Some APC members had entreated Yari to drop his ambition to make it a smooth sail for Akpabio but the former governor vowed to fight to the finish.
In the just-concluded elections, the ruling APC secured about 70 seats in the Red Chamber, the highest by any party followed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Labour Party (LP) and the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP).
Many APC lawmakers had indicated interest to emerge the next Senate President but some of the aspirants stepped down for either Akpabio or Yari.