Kaduna state governor, Mr Nasir El-Rufai, on Thursday led Messers Ahmed Lawan, Danjuma Goje and Uba Sani, all senators, to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari in his office.
The governor and the lawmakers spoke to State House correspondents after the meeting and said they discussed the forthcoming election of a new senate president billed for June 11.
Lawan is the candidate supported by governing All Progressives Congress for the position.
Below is the full transcript of what they said:
Gentlemen of the press, I am very pleased to report to you that we just came out from a meeting with our leader and mentor, the president, with Danjuma Goje from Gombe State, Ahmed Lawan from Yobe State and senator-elect, Uba Sani, from my state.
We discussed steps to unify our leadership in National Assembly starting with the Senate.
I am very pleased to announce that Goje has agreed to fully endorse and support the choice of the party and that of Mr. President within the Senate, that is Lawan.
We are very grateful to Goje for his sacrifice and 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, and as governor. 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 Mr. president and to conclude this matter once and for all.
First, I want to use this opportunity to thank Allah for giving us this opportunity today. 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. 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 Muhammadu Buhari and in deference to the loyalty I have for my party, APC, in the interest of our party and the development of this country, in order to assist Mr. President deliver on his promises, I have decided to respect his wish by not declaring to run for senate presidency. Instead, I am supporting the party’s position thereby endorsing the candidature of Lawan.
Q: National Assembly is seen as an independent arm of government but Nigerians see the position of the party now as an imposition?
Goje: I don’t think it is 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 and in party politics…I am independent. I have been winning my elections many 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 him based on my own conviction that I am doing the right thing for our country, for our president.
Let me thank Mr President, our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, for giving us the leadership that we need at this point and always.
We have just come out of a closed-door meeting just like Mr El-Rufai said. Mine is to thank Goje and El-Rufai for making it possible for us to achieve what we have achieved today. For me this is a great day and a very important moment for the contest for the office of Senate President. The endorsement by Goje is going to bring so much unity in 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 the 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 senators-elect will be happy to hear that this has been achieved.
I want to thank Goje, he is a very experienced politician like he has said. He has been in this business much longer than most of us really. And I respect him even when there was so much clamour for him to run for the position of the president of senate, he never came out to publicly declare. Even though he had enormous respect and following, but the position he has willingly taken to respect the wishes of the party and president, is the best position any politician could take. And there is nothing better than to have a family that is very united, very solid and very focused.
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.