Senator Danjuma Goje representing Gombe Central on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has withdrawn his candidature for the Senate presidency in the Ninth National Assembly.
But Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume has vowed to remain in the contest for the Senate Presidency.
Ndume, a former Senate Leader, stated that with the withdrawal of Goje from the contest, the race is now a straight fight between the two main contenders.
He said the development has presented senators-elect with a choice on who would serve the nation’s best interest.
Ndume noted that the final decision on who becomes the President of the 9th Senate would rest squarely with the senators-elect.
“Let me assure you that I remain in the race and I’m very optimistic. I have said my prayers. I have implicit faith in God. He is the giver of power. So, there is no cause for alarm.
“A school anthem says, once to every man and nation, comes a moment to decide… on Tuesday my colleagues will decide. And we believe Allah is on our side.”
Goje who announced his withdrawal from the race yesterday, after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, also endorsed the Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan (APC Yobe North) for the coveted position.
Goje is the Chairman Senate Committee on Appropriation. The election for the coveted office is expected to hold on Tuesday, June 11.
Speaking to State House Correspondents after the meeting, Goje said his decision was in deference to his absolute loyalty to President Buhari and the interest of the party hierarchy, notwithstanding the backing he has received from his teeming supporters and associates across the country towards the project.
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 and 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 President Buhari and my party, the APC, respect the President’s 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,” he said.
Goje dismissed suggestions of imposition by the APC hierarchy on the choice of the forthcoming leadership for the Ninth National Assembly seen as an independent arm of government.
“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 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,” he said.
In his remarks, Senator Lawan said the Ninth National Assembly required a robust leadership that is poised to carry out optimum legislative actions that would move the country to the next level.
He said: “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. 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 a very experienced politician. He has been in this business much longer than most of us really.
“I also want to thank those who 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,” he said.
Also speaking, the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, who joined the delegation, noted that the endorsement was one of the steps taken by the APC hierarchy towards unifying the ruling party’s leadership at the National Assembly “starting with the Senate.”
Other members of the delegation were the Senator-elect from Kaduna State, Uba Sani, and the Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matter (Senate), Senator Ita Enang.