Senate presidency: Ndume accuses colleagues of monetizing process
Senator representing Borno South Senatorial District, Ali Ndume, on Tuesday, accused some aspirants vying for the Senate presidency of lobbying their counterparts into accepting huge sums of money in exchange for votes.
“There is vote-buying. Votes that are being bought do not end with the masses, it goes beyond that. Even a senator’s vote is up for sale,” Ndume said in a BBC Hausa interview on Tuesday.
Although it is common knowledge that politicking had begun in both chambers of the National Assembly to elect principal officers in the 10th NASS, Ndume said many aspirants have resorted to money politics.
The PUNCH reports that aspirants for the top Senate and House of Representatives positions begin declaring interest in their choice positions since lawmakers resumed from election break on March 14.
Some notable individuals who have expressed interest in being president of the 10th Senate include Senators-elect Ali Ndume (Borno), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Orji Kalu (Abia), Jibrin Barau (Kano) and Mohammed Musa (Niger), among others.
Apart from the Senate presidency, positions such as the deputy Senate president and Speaker of the House of Representatives are up for grabs.
Others are leaders of the majority and minority caucuses. They include the majority leader, deputy majority leader, majority or chief whip, the deputy whip, minority leader, the deputy minority leader, minority whip and deputy minority whip.
Speaking on the state of the campaigns, Ndume lamented that vote-buying had permeated the process leaving the relevant authorities little room to act.
“There are accusations that money is used and the truth about it is that Nigeria’s politics is taken over by the rich completely, our political scenario has been flooded with such people that feel they can buy anything.
“Votes that are now being bought do not end with the masses, it goes beyond that. Even senators’ votes are up for sale.
“In Nigeria, there is nothing you cannot get with money, except the money is not enough. So, add more and you will get it.
“Let me tell you, some are contesting because they have money. If not, they have nothing apart from being members of the National Assembly. They do not even know what it entails to do the work of a member of the National Assembly,” he said.
Ndume argued that the relevant authorities who are to check money politics in the assembly “have been bought over.”
He kicked against zoning, urging fellow senators-elect to focus on the qualifications of those vying for office.
“I do not support this (zoning). During the general elections, I supported this but based on the forth-coming election in the Senate, I do not support that zoning.
“What do you think will happen when you bring someone from a zone that does not qualify, we have some in the Senate that have tainted our image.
“It is not right for someone who does not possess elderly behaviour to be our leader? Let us the 109 senators-elect who we want,” he argued.
Meanwhile, Senator-elect for Imo West, Osita Izunaso, met with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Tuesday, at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.
Izunaso eyes seat
Izunaso, one of the frontline contenders for the Senate presidency, served as senator from 2007 to 2011 and as the Organising Secretary of the governing All Progressives Congress.
Speaking to State House correspondents after meeting Buhari on his ambition to become Senate President, Izunaso said he is the most senior member of the upper chamber from the South-East and South-South and, thus, the most qualified for the office.
“As the oldest Senator in both South-East and South-South, I think the question should be obvious. I’m the oldest. There is no Senator today in the APC of South-South and South-East that is older than me in the Senate and that’s an institution that believes in ranking.
“So, I’m the highest-ranking Senator in both South-South and South-East. I came to the Senate in 2007, I was in the House of Reps, and I’ve been in the party for five good solid years.
“I ran the party to the best of my ability as National Organizing Secretary of this party that saw us to victory in 2015 and 2019. So, I think we have paid our dues,” he said.
He argued that the Senate Presidency should be zoned to the South-East saying “It’s only fair and natural that the party” does so.