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FORMER Senate Leader Mohammed Ali Ndume yesterday scored Senate President Bukola Saraki’s leadership of the upper chamber below average.

Ndume, who represents Borno South Senatorial District, said it was stating the obvious that the Senate under Dr. Saraki, has failed Nigerians.

Speaking at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja, the Borno senator noted that Saraki and House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara, had privatised and personalised the legislative arm of government.

Ndume said Saraki has no justification to retain his seat as Senate President after defecting to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

He also lauded the military for the concerted effort at eliminating insurgency in some parts of the country.

On the Senate leadership, Ndume said: “I really want to admit that we have failed in our responsibility to the people somehow but we the members are not responsible for that.

”It is more of the responsibility of the leadership that shut down the Senate abruptly because of personal issues.

”It is very unfortunate. The Senate is the Nigerian Senate, it is not the senator’s Senate; it is not Saraki’s Senate.

“It is very unfortunate that the National Assembly has been reduced to Saraki and Dogara.”

According to him, Saraki and Dogara have privatised and personalised the legislative arm of government, a development he called an aberration.

Ndume said: “They (Saraki and Dogara) have privatised and personalised the institution, and the reason we were elected to be there has been relegated to the background.

“This is very unfortunate, but I want Nigerians to know that the Senate has not been shut down by the Senators or members of House of Representatives.

”The Senate was shut down by Saraki and Dogara and they should be held responsible for that.”

He noted that the Senate, which is yet to reconvene, must move on without Saraki.

The former Senate Leader added that he had made concerted efforts to see how the Senate could reconvene, especially to consider about five matters of national importance.

His efforts, he said, have been without success, adding that the the matters he wanted considered were abandoned by the National Assembly before it proceeded on the long recess.

His words: “We tried everything to get the Senate President or the leadership to reconvene the Senate, but that have not been successful.”

On why the Senate President should quit, Ndume noted that  Saraki should know that he was not supposed to retain the position of President of the Senate, because he could not “eat his cake and have it”.

Saraki, he said, lost all rights to retain the seat when he defected to the PDP.

Ndume posited that the only thing that could save Saraki from being impeached remained a vote of confidence from his colleagues.

”I think that is the only thing he can do; may be he did that before, let him try it; let him call for vote of confidence from us, his colleagues.

”I assure you that he will not get the majority.”

Ndume described the statement credited to some politicians that Saraki could only be impeached by two-third of members of the house as not only wrong, but also a total misconception.

To him, since Saraki decided to leave the APC for PDP, he should have left the position as he could not be in a minority party and be President of the Senate.

He recalled that as minority leader in the House of Representatives, he defected to PDP from the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and resigned from the position without being asked to do so.

The senator said it was natural that he left the position because he could not move from the minority to the majority and still be a minority leader.

Ndume noted that there should only be one Senate President who is supposed to come from the majority political party.

“I am still thinking and hoping that Saraki will do the right thing and the right thing is for him to relinquish that position for the majority to preside,” Ndume said.

On the fight against Boko Haram, he said the move by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, in ensuring collaboration with the Nigerian Air Force and other agencies had helped a great deal.

He said that the relocation of the operational headquarters of the military was a major factor in the defeat of Boko Haram.

However, he called on them to concentrate on three black spots of “the deep Sambisa Forest, the Lake Chad fringes and the Mandara Mountains.

He said the sect, which was still active in those areas for obvious reasons, must be brought to its knees.

Ndume said: “The resurfacing of the sect is more in Northern Borno. These are the fringes of Lake Chad. I am suspecting that because of the money they got from the ransome allegedly paid, their proximity to international terrorist organisation, Nigeria bordering Mali and Niger and the open, vast and porous borders, they are buying and transporting light arms.

”Also, they are getting money from the businesses around Lake Chad that they have taken over. They are now the ones involved in the cattle business and all that.

“Those are the areas they get money from. With this money they are able to fund their operations.”

On concerns that the sect had not been completely eliminated, the lawmaker said fighting insurgency was different from fighting conventional war.

He said: “We have been fighting insurgency in the North East which is different from the conventional war where you know you have soldiers belonging to a particular group that you can identify.

“Besides, insurgency is not happening only in Nigeria. It is happening in Afghanistan, Syria and all that. Like the case of Afghanistan, the case has been going on for some years now.”


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