The former majority leader of the Nigeria Senate, Ali Ndume, has said he has no ambition becoming governor of Borno State because three reasons.
Mr. Ndume, a member of the All Progressives Congress, APC, was last Tuesday unceremoniously removed as the Senate Majority Leader. His colleague, Ahmed Lawan, from Yobe State, replaced him.
The Borno federal legislator said he looks “up to God” and his constituents for his next political step come 2019.
Mr. Ndume who came to limelight in 2003 when he was elected member of the House of Representatives, is one of the most consistently elected public officers in Borno State.
In this interview with PREMIUM TIMES’ Abdulkareem Haruna, Mr. Ndume spoke on his recent governorship bid and his fondness for President Muhammadu Buhari.
PT: How are you coping with your recent removal as the Senate Leader?
NDUME: I have said it over and over, just like I have informed my supporters here in Borno, that I have put that issue behind me, I would not want to be speaking on it any longer. Nigerians must have by now know that I am an extrovert. And I have suffered the consequence of my nature. But I cannot change that; I try to always say my mind and stand by it even though if I am alone. It does not matter as long as I am convinced that what I am saying is the truth. That was why when they said the Senate had rejected Mr. Ibrahim Magu’s nomination for the EFCC chairmanship confirmation, I said, no that was not what happened. I spoke my mind as leader of the House, when journalists approached me for make clarification. But that was history. I don’t want to dwell on that any longer.
PT: There is this rumour that the APC in Borno is making moves to reconcile the Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima, with his predecessor who is now a leader of the PDP ahead 2019. Are you aware of this?
NDUME: I am aware of an ongoing move to mend fences and bring warring political blocks to the reconciliation table; but nobody has officially informed or approach me on such issue of political alliance or realignment in Borno State.
But in politics, it is always good to have people who had disagreed to reconcile. So it is a welcome development. But for me wherever the political realignment tilts, you will always find me where President Muhammadu Buhari is, because he has been my long time mentor; everyone knows that.
PT: What are your plans ahead 2019?
NDUME: On what will happen in 2019, I always leave that to God. Remember that when I was elected into the House of Reps in 2003, that was not what I wanted. Everyone knows that my dream was to become the chairman of Gwoza Local Government. That was because I am a grassroots man. My dreams were to become chairman of Gwoza Local Government, so that I could develop our area. I even had the dream of building a motorable access up to the rocky hills so that my people in Ngoshe Sama can be accessed easily from top of the hills. But my people insisted I should go for House of Reps, and the rest was history.
In 2011 when I had issues with the former governor, Ali Sheriff, and I had to leave ANPP for PDP, my intentions was to still re-contest the House of Reps seat, because it might give me a chance to become speaker or deputy speaker of the House, but the PDP leaders in the state said no; that I had to go for the senate. And I was by the grace of God re-elected in 2015 for the second time. I was re-elected at a time it would have been difficult to do so. Remember, I was even accused of Boko Haram sponsorship, yet my people preferred me to my Christian opponent, irrespective of the large Christian population in the zone. And the rest was history.
PT: There are insinuations that you may be eyeing the governorship seat of Borno State. How true could that be?
NDUME: There are some issues that have recently started generating concern and anxiety in our state. Mark my words, I don’t envy anybody that wants to be the governor of Borno. And I don’t, on my own, struggle to be anything in life. God that creates you gives you the responsibility to carry as human, and he also gives you the strength to carry on.
Besides that, I have three key reasons why I cannot bother myself lobbying or struggling to become a governor.
One is that, personally, I feel that anybody that is approaching his 60s shouldn’t be thinking of contesting the governorship of any state. As complex as the Nigerian states are, governing a state needs a younger and vibrant person that can stand the rigours. I am about 58 now, by the time my tenure ends in the senate come 2019, I will be 59. I personally feel that by that age, it will late to aspire being a state governor.
Secondly, at 58, I look forward to the hereafter. At such age, one needs to be closer to God. These are public offices, which come with a lot of burden and responsibilities of which one must account for before God. We have a lot of question to answer from God. Right now, I am a representative; nothing is given to me in terms of material resources or money on behalf of my people which I must account for. All I am being given now are my entitled salaries and allowances. Even the constituency allowances are meant for the running of our offices at the constituency level and not money given to be shared to people. Religiously, the responsibility in what I am doing now, before God, is less. But a governor has to go for FAAC meeting every month to receive money on behalf of his people. And it is expected that with such money received by a governor, he or she must fulfil the constitutional and religious role expected of him. And Section 14 (2b) of our constitution says that the purpose of government is provision of security and welfare to citizens. While God says He will hold any leader to account if anybody or even a child dies in the hospital because the state has failed to provide the medicine to cater for such persons needs; or if anybody goes to bed with hunger, because the governor fails to provide food, or the enabling environment for such a person to get his food; God will hold the leader responsible. Governing a state is so difficult and I am not ready to face such burden. Besides, what do I want at 58, that I have not enjoyed in the past? I am a contented man; I live by God’s wish. And if He says I will be governor tomorrow, I have no such powers to stop it. But for me to lose sleep or struggle to become a governor in Borno State is something I would never do.
The third reason is the political reality in Borno State. I am from southern Borno. And technically, we have only seven local government areas out of the supposed nine, because Damboa and Chibok, which are also part of Southern Borno, are incidentally under Borno Emirate, which is located in Central Borno. And we all know that southern Borno is one of the most diverse senatorial districts in this country. When I contested for senate in 2011, I lost four local governments in southern Borno, because there is no unity. That is why I have been struggling as the senator to get us united. Except on rotational bases, which will never be possible in Borno, there is no way someone from the southern Borno will emerge as elected governor. This is because the central and northern Borno have 20 local government areas with one language, one religion and one tradition; unlike the southern Borno where we have multitude of languages and traditions.
So as you can see, anybody saying I have interest in this job called governor of Borno State, is just being mischievous.
PT: So, will you re-contest for the Senate in 2019?
NDUME: My wish is to retire from politics at 60. But it will be difficult doing so now, because you don’t abandon your people in the midst of crisis.