Former Governor of Gombe State, Senator Danjuma Goje, on Thursday, abandoned his ambition to become Senate President after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja.
Senator Goje, who met the president in the company of Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang; the front runner for the Senate President post, Senator Ahmad Lawan, and Senator-elect from Kaduna State, Uba Sani, told State House correspondents that he had stepped down for Lawan.
While noting the support he has received from colleagues and associates, he said his decision to step down was in deference to his absolute loyalty to President Buhari and the interest of the party hierarchy.
The former governor stated: “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 his excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari and in deference to the loyalty I have for my party, the APC in the interest of our party and the development of this country, in other to assist Mr. President to deliver his promises.
“I have decided to respect his 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.”
Goje dismissed suggestions that APC had engaged in imposition of candidates for the National Assembly, saying: “I think 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 patty. 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.”
In his remark, Governor el-Rufai said the endorsement of Lawan was one of the steps taken by APC hierarchy to unify the ruling party’s leadership at the National Assembly “starting with the senate.”
He said: “Distinguished senator Goje has agreed to fully endorse and support the choice of the party and that of Mr. President within the Senate, that is Senator Ahmed Lawan.”
“We are very grateful to Senator goje for his sacrifice, patience. This discussion has been going on for a long time and I honoured to be part of it and I am grateful to him for recognizing the many years we have worked together when he was minister, 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.”
Also speaking, Senator Lawan hailed the party’s decision to back him for the position of senate president in the ninth assembly which he he said required a robust leadership that is poised to perform optimum legislative action aimed to move the country to the next level.
He added: “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, 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. 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 the senate, he never came out to publicly to 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.”
Culled from Tribuneonlineng