President Buhari, middle, APC Senator-elect for Kaduna Central, Uba Sani, left, Senator Ahmed Lawan, Governor Nasri el-Rufai of Kaduna State and Senator Danjuma Goje
By Ayo Kehinde
Less than a week to the inauguration of the 9th National Assembly on Tuesday, the fight for the Senate Presidency has taken a new dimension as President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday met behind closed doors with the Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan and the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Danjuma Goje at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Also present and the unseen hand behind the plot was Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasri el-Rufai with his Senator-elect, for Kaduna Central, APC, Uba Sani.
The two contestants, Goje and Lawan, walked into the President’s office around 11.45am and immediately the strategic meeting started.
The meeting was held to nail the Senate presidency for Lawan who has been endorsed by the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, even as Senator Ali Ndume has refused to toe party line and run solo instead.
The elections and inauguration of the 9th National Assembly come up next week Tuesday.
Apart from withdrawing former the race, Goje has also endorsed Lawan’s candidature.
Governor, el-Rufai, confirmed the outcome of the meeting to State House Correspondents, Abuja on Thursday.
According to e-Rufai: “We discussed steps to unify our leadership in the National Assembly starting with the senate.
“I am very pleased to announce that distinguished Sen. Goje has agreed to fully endorse and support the choice of the party and that of the President within the Senate; that is Sen. Lawan.
“We are very grateful to Goje for his sacrifice, patience; this discussion has been going on for a long time and I am honoured to be part of it and I am grateful to him for recognising the many years we have worked together when he was minister.
“ I know him to be a man of impeccable integrity and a man of his word and I am very honoured that he has come to see the president and to conclude this matter once and for all,’’ he said.
Speaking to journalists on the outcome of the meeting, Goje said he had withdrawn from the race in deference to the wish of the party and the President.
“Instead, I am supporting the party’s position thereby endorsing the candidature of Sen. Lawan. I am not compelled to step down; I have been winning my elections many times from local government to House of Assembly, to National Assembly to governorship and I was also a minister,” he said, adding,
“To say that I have been threatened to support somebody, no! I am supporting Lawan based on my own conviction that I am doing the right thing for our country, for our president,’’ he said.
“I believe that is the way to go, we want to go to the ninth Senate focused and united right from onset, kick start our activities which is very important at this time.
“The country needs a senate that is focused and united for optimum performance and I believe that the senators-elect will be happy to hear that this has been achieved.
On his part, Lawan said: “I want to thank Sen. Goje, he is very experienced politician like he has said; he has been in this business much longer and than most of us really.
“ I respect him; even when there were so many clamours for him to run for the position of the president of the senate, he never came out to publicly to declare.
“ Even though he had enormous respect and following, he has willingly chosen to respect the wishes of the party and president, is the best position any politician could take.”