Former Senate Leader and a contestant for the position of Senate President of the incoming 9th Senate, Senator Ali Ndume, has denied refusing entreaties by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to step down for the Senate majority leader, Ahmad Lawan.
In a statement personally signed by him and made available to journalists on Thursday in Abuja, Ndume said reports insinuating that his discussions with the Vice President touched on the issue of Senate Presidency were false.
He, however, stated that his recent visit to Prof. Osinbajo centred on his routine briefing to the vice president on the humanitarian issues in the North East, which he said specifically centres around the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) issues and the situation report on the orphanages, issues which he said are dear to the vice president.
He said, “Osinbajo didn’t ask me to drop the idea of contesting the Senate Presidency. We only talked about IDPs, Orphanages and related matters.
“The truth is, it is usual for me to meet with the vice president to discuss issues of common interest, especially the humanitarian crisis in the northeast, of which the vice president has shown exceptional interest in helping out.
“Personally, l’m a committed Buharist. Whether I become the Senate President or not, I will continue to stand by him, defend his policies because I see him as a mentor. And I believe that Mr. President has nothing against my aspiration for the office of the Senate President because I sought his permission long before the general election and he gave me his go-ahead. I have not heard anything otherwise from him.
“I believe he will not go against my aspiration, because as he said he belongs to everybody and belongs to nobody. And he sticks to that. I am sure that the least he can do is to allow the constitution, which he strongly believes in, and the rule of law to prevail in the emergence of the senate leadership.
“So, I want to use this opportunity to clear the air as to those that are trying to cause disaffection.”
Ndume assured the All Progressives Congress (APC) leadership of his commitment to party ideals adding that he would do what is right within the and doing what is right in line with the constitution of Nigeria.
He added: “What I am doing now is to strengthen democracy, to in fact improve on or deepen democracy and to stand by what APC believes in. Mr President stood for election. It was open. He contested against three people. And even when it was zoned outside our zone, Mr. President allowed a level playing ground. Okorocha contested.
“During his second term, he subjected himself to the process of democracy that led to his emergence. During our gubernatorial elections he came clearly to say people should be allowed to elect persons of their choice even in his own case. So, I will be surprised if anything otherwise comes from him.”