By Lawrence Olaoye
President Muhammadu Buhari has brokered a deal between the two frontline contestants for the position of the Senate President in the Ninth Assembly as Senator Danjuma Goje offered to step down for the preferred candidate of the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Ahmed Lawan.
Briefing newsmen after the meeting with the President alongside the Governor of Kaduna state, Nasir el-Rufai and Senator Uba Sani, also from Kaduna State, Goje said he took the decision owing to his maturity, respect for his party and loyalty to the President.
He said “I want to thank my teeming supporters, associates across the country, who have been calling me to declare for the senate presidency, I have listened to them and I thank them very well.
“I want to say that as an elder statesman in the Senate for a long time, at my age, I should be able to appreciate leadership coming from our elders. So, in spite of all these calls, in spite all the support I have among my colleagues in the Senate, I have decided to, in deference to the loyalty I have for his Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari and in deference to the loyalty I have for my party, the APC in the interest of our party and the development of this country, in other to assist Mr. President to deliver his promises, I have decided to respect his wish by not declaring to contest this Senate Presidency. Instead, I am supporting the party’s position thereby endorsing the candidature of Senator Ahmed Lawan.”
On whether Lawan was not being imposed on the Senators by the ruling party, Goje said “I think it is not an imposition. I am not compelled to step down. I just told you that at my age I have the capacity to think well and respect my elders and respect my party. I have been winning my elections many many times from local government to House of Assembly, to National Assembly to governorship and I was also a minister. To say that I have been threatened to support somebody, no! I am supporting him based on my own conviction that I am doing the right thing for our country, for our president.”
Lawan who spoke after Goje thanked the President and the Kaduna state governor for facilitating the truce saying “We have just come out of a
closed door meeting just like his excellency the governor Nasir El-Rufai said. Mine is to thank Senator Goje and El-Rufai for making it possible for us to achieve what we have achieved today. For me this is a great day and a very important moment for the contest for the office of the Senate. The endorsement by Senator Goje is going to bring so much unity in the APC and indeed in the entire Senate in a very bi-partisan fashion. I believe that is the way to go, we want to go to the Ninth Senate focused and united right from onset, kickstart 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.
“I want to thank Senator Goje, he is very experienced politician like he has said. He has been in this business much longer and than most of us really. And I respect him even when there was so much clamour for him to run for the position of the President of the Senate, he never came out publicly to declare. Even though he had enormous respect and following, but the position he has willingly taken to respect the wishes of the party and president, is the best position any politician could take. And there is nothing better than to have a family that is very united, very solid and very focused.
“I also want to thank those who are have been working behind the scene to try and broker this understanding. By the end of today, I’m sure that the complexion for this race would have been changed for the better.”
Governor el-Rufai thanked Goje for his sacrifice and patience adding that “This discussion has been going on for a long time and I’m honoured to be part of it and I am grateful to him for recognizing the many years we have worked together when he was minister, as governor.
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 Mr. president and to conclude this matter once and for all.”