Immediate-past Leader of the Senate, Senator Ali Ndume, was last Wednesday, suspended. At the surface, pundits are quick to make wrong assumptions on what led to his suspension.
But for keen apostles of the intrigues and political power play in the Senate, what played out last Wednesday was a culmination of months of bitter rivalry among the key actors involved in the melodrama.
Ndume, who in June 2015, stood firmly with Senator Bukola Saraki when he emerged as Senate President despite strong opposition from his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), became a political orphan when his party allies joined forces with elements from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to suspend him.
Ndume’s trouble started in December 2016 when he allegedly opposed the rejection of the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu by the Senate.
Ndume, who hails from the same senatorial district with Magu, further incurred the wrath of the Senate, particularly allies of Saraki, when he reportedly told State House correspondents that the Red Chamber did not ask for the sack of the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr David Babachir Lawal.
While lawmakers retired to their various constituencies to celebrate Christmas, Ndume’s traducers went to the thinking table to plot his removal as Senate Leader. As soon as lawmakers resumed from the Christmas break, Ndume was booted out as Leader.
Senator Dino Melaye purportedly spearheaded his removal. Not ready to throw in the towel, Ndume put up a spirited fight and made several attempts to take his own pound of flesh.First, he opened a touchy issue when he called on the leadership of the Senate to open the financial records of the National Assembly to the public.
According to him, Nigerians needed to know how billions of naira budgeted every year were expended.Ndume’s first salvo raised some questions and sent shock waves into Saraki’s camp.
While the first dust was yet to settle, Ndume, again, on Tuesday, March 21, this year, called for the investigation of Saraki and Melaye over the face-off with the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) and certificate forgery allegation leveled against Melaye.
Ndume, who came under a motion of national importance, said Saraki, according to a story published by an online newspaper, sanctioned the summon of the NCS over claims that his bullet proof Range Rover Sport was impounded.On the part of Melaye, Ndume said the online platform published a story that the Kogi State born Senator did not obtain a degree in Geography from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
Ndume drew instances from four scenarios. He said a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Salisu Buhari, was accused of certificate forgery and how he eventually cleared his name. He said former Senate President, Adolphus Wabara was also accused when he held sway as Senate boss.
According to Ndume, Wabara also cleared his name. He said the current Governor of Katsina State, Aminu Bello Masari, as Speaker of the House of Representatives, was accused of certificate forgery, but went ahead and cleared his name. His last reference was Dimeji Bankole, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives. He said he was accused of not writing his Senior Secondary School Examination.
Again, Ndume said he cleared his name.For keen observers, Ndume took on the wrong people at a wrong time. Immediately Ndume’s allegations were referred to the Senate committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, the whole political dynamics in the Red Chamber changed.Senator Samuel Anyanwu-led Ethics committee, which was hitherto believed to be slow in dispensing off cases, sprang back to life.
In less than a week, it concluded the hearing and passed a verdict, which nailed Ndume. Unknown to many Nigerians, the committee’s report ought to have been presented last Tuesday but was deferred to Wednesday.
No official reason was given for the deference.Now that Ndume has been suspended, there are windows of opportunities open to him. Like Melaye, who was suspended by the House of Representatives in 2010, Ndume can approach a law court to challenge the decision of the Senate.
Alternatively, he can decide to cease fire and serve out the suspension. For now, it is too early to tell what Ndume will do next. Since his suspension, he has not granted any press interviews. He has also not been seen around the National Assembly vicinity or in public.(culled from sun)