Danjuma Goje, a Nigerian senator (APC-Gombe Central), on Thursday explained why he decided to step down his ambition for Ahmed Lawan (APC-Yobe) in the race for the Senate presidency in the ninth Assembly.
Mr Goje, who thanked his supporters and associates across the country, spoke with reporters after a meeting he had with Mr Lawan, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna, and President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Villa, Abuja on Thursday.
He said that, as an elder statesman in the Senate for a long time, he should be able to appreciate leadership coming from the party elders.
Mr Goje said in spite of the calls from his supporters, he had, because of his loyalty to the president and for the interest of the party, decided to step down from the race.
“Instead, I am supporting the party’s position thereby endorsing the candidature of Sen. Lawan.
“I am not compelled to step down; I have been winning my elections 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 Lawan based on my own conviction that I am doing the right thing for our country, for our president,’’ he said.
Speaking, Mr Lawan thanked Messrs Buhari, El-Rufai and Goje for the making the agreement possible.
He said the endorsement by Mr Goje was going to bring so much unity in the APC and indeed in the entire Senate in a 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.
“ I respect him; even when there were so many clamours for him to run for the position of the president of the senate, he never came out to publicly to declare.
Meanwhile, Governor El-Rufai applauded Mr Goje for stepping down for Mr Lawan in the race.
Mr El-Rufai, spoke with State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja after himself, Messrs Lawan, Goje and Senator-elect, Uba Sani (APC-Kaduna Central) emerged from the closed-door meeting with President Buhari on Thursday.
He said Mr Goje had withdrawn from the race for Senate Presidency and endorsed the candidacy of Mr Lawan, who was the preferred candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“We discussed steps to unify our leadership in the National Assembly starting with the Senate.
“I am very pleased to announce that distinguished Sen. Goje has agreed to fully endorse and support the choice of the party and that of the President within the Senate; that is Sen. Lawan.
“We are very grateful to Goje for his sacrifice, patience; this discussion has been going on for a long time and I am honoured to be part of it and I am grateful to him for recognising the many years we have worked together when he was minister.
“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 the president and to conclude this matter once and for all,’’ he said.