By Abdul Jelil
There is no doubt that in less than 40 days from now, by the grace of God, a new senate president will emerge and politicking will begin in ernest. For now different waters are gushing out of the senate bridge and very soon and I mean very soon, the chicken will come home to roost.
I have never hidden my preference for the candidature of Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, a seasoned parliamentarian, a party faithful, a lion hearted and approachable person with friends across the different political divide, and to cap it all, never a religious bigot.
Why the insistence that he is shoulder above his major contestants. Here we go. A leader is a defender of people he is leading; his opponent was the senate leader when two prominent members of the party in the eight senate were suspended. The leader kept mute never raised a voice when Ndume and Omo-Agege were suspended for months.
A leader is one who takes the welfare of people working with and under him very seriously. For the first time, national assembly workers went on strike and the leader was nowhere to come to their aid. The legislative arm of government was thrown into confusion when staff of the assembly protested for nonpayment of their allowances.
These are things that never happened under Ndume as senate leader. There are leaders and there is a leader that goes beyond the crowd to achieve meaningful results for those with him and those under his supervision.
A leader must be one that is detribalized and Ndume is such as people of different ethnic extraction are with him and for him. He is not a recluse that hides under a cocoon of a godfather. He is bold as a lion and speaks his mind no matter what it would cost.
In his desire to ensure the anti corruption war succeeds, he insisted that Magu should be confirmed. And this led to his suspension and his party leader in the senate kept quiet and could not raise a voice in defense.
A leader should be one that is accessible by those he claims to lead, our opponent’ abode is usually isolated but visit Ndume’s and you will be surprised at the different people thronging into his homes both in Abuja and Borno.
It is not how long one has been in the national assembly but what impact is he reverberating within the polity and his political party. While Ndume was the senate leader, he stood for all bills presented by President Muhammadu Buhari while immediately he was removed; the difference could be felt with a pinch of salt as most of the executive bills suffered devastating blows by the cabals and hawks in the senate.
The fears of supporters of Ndume is the fear that with a godfather forcing his opponent through the throats of 109 senior citizens called senators, is that, those to occupy position of chairmanship of committees would be determined by the godfathers from outside the confines of the national assembly. And not many would like this in every material possible.
Ndume has promised to liberalize this and ensure every senator is given equal access and rights as every other instead of what it has been where the senate president has always been a mini god who determines which senator goes on foreign trips or not.
One is not contending that some senators have been in the national assembly since the commencement of the fourth republic, but what impact are the constituents and even the state benefitting. Ndume is on record to have touched more lives of Borno indigenes and by extension Yobe people both in Abuja and in the two states combined. Projects are not paper works, they are visible, let every contender to the throne of senate presidency list his achievements.
A little to serious politicking, is it that there are lacking political leaders, leaders of thought, and even godfathers from the zone that could determine among their children who could represent them better than for ‘foreigners’ taking the lead and insisting they know these children more than their guardians and parents?
The nine point agenda is open for criticism and appraisal, yet some contestants have nothing but what the godfather will dictate and the pace of happenings in the senate will be determine by them; is that the senate we envisage for the ninth senate?
The use of former senators as consultants is a welcome development and those who are not returning will certainly support the candidature of one that has their interest at heart than one that has nothing but godfathers carrying him up and down. Anyone being carried along does not know the importance of such an office. Let all go to the field and bring back trophies and not just participating because a godfather will determine where the tide will go.
In politics, you need your enemies to succeed and you don’t shut your doors to gaining advantage from them. Hence all the 109 senators are very important to the quest for the senate leadership. Every vote will count and Ndume knows this and has been crisscrossing political divide seeking votes that will give him leverage.
Politics of name dropping should be taking into cognizance, because as of today the presidency has not given its support to any of its children, and that is what a good father should do. Most of Nigerians winning laurels abroad did not get that leverage because they have a godfather somewhere they fought the world and conquered and today every Nigerian is happy that our sons and daughters are bringing accolades to the country. That is what should also happen in June when the eggheads will vote for their leaders among the majority party. All hail the new Senate President and that is Ndume, by the grace of God and the support of majority colleagues in the red chamber.
Abdul Jelil is a Public Policy Analyst.