Abuja — The race for the presidency of the 9th Senate gathered momentum at the weekend with the main contender and Senate Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan, intensifying his one on one campaign and meeting with senators-elect, those of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stock in their home states.
Sources close to the camps of former governor of Gombe State, Senator Danjuma Goje, and former Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, however, told THISDAY that in spite of the tough talk of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), they would not give up their ambition to become the next Senate president.
Specifically, the Ndume camp said no intimidation from any quarter can force the three-time Borno South senator to abandon his ambition that had received the blessings of APC leaders in his senatorial district and the two other senatorial districts in Borno.
Thisday further gathered that Ndume is still very much in the race with one of the sources close to him saying: "Don't forget that he was the first aspirant to write the APC leadership of his intention to vie for the position of Senate president."
It was also learnt that Ndume had since stepped up his consultations with all necessary stakeholders, including senators-elect across party lines and members of APC National Working Committee (NWC) on the need for them to support him.
Ndume's close associates stated emphatically that no amount of threat from any quarters will stop him from realising his ambition "as he is presently looking up to God in his pursuant of what is right."
The pro-Ndume group also expressed concern that the adoption of a particular candidate for Senate president does not have the blessing of all NWC members and President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to a ranking APC senator who spoke on condition of anonymity, "I can say authoritatively that the reported adoption of a particular candidate is the agenda of APC National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, and National Leader, Senator Bola Tinubu, while the president and some members of the NWC are not on the same page with the duo on this matter.
"So, what are we saying? They are routing for the candidate because they know he'll be a stooge and establishment person while Ndume will be independent minded and not be a rubber stamp of the executive. Just let's just wait and see as events unfold between now and June when the 9th National Assembly will be inaugurated."
Lawan, on his part, intensified his consultative meetings across the states at the weekend with visits to Kano, Niger and Borno States where he met one on one with some senators-elect.
He met individually with the senators-elect from Kano and Niger states who openly pledged their support for his candidacy for the Senate presidency.
Lawan confirmed to THISDAY in Abuja yesterday that he had commenced consultative meeting with senators-elect over his ambition.
He also said he had engaged his colleagues in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the matter "and their response has been wonderful."
On other APC senators eyeing the leadership of the Senate, the Senate leader said he was also engaging them too "while not ruling out the fact that in a democracy they have the right to aspire and at the end of the day whoever emerges, we'll work together as one Senate."
Lawan stated that he was going to run an open government if elected and promised to carry his colleagues along in the day to day administration of the National Assembly."
His words: "Ours will be an open assembly where all will be free to contribute their quota towards ensuring that we make necessary laws for the development of the nation."
He also allayed the fears that he will be an appendage of the executive if he emerges as Senate president, saying nothing can be far from the truth.
"This is not true. All I know is that we will engage the executive in areas where we need to engage them while not ruling out the need to also collaborate with them when the need arises."
According to him, his consultative meeting with other senators-elect in other states will resume today at the second batch of the orientation programme being organised by National Assembly management for federal legislators-elect which ends on Friday.
He said: "I will continue the consultative meeting with other senators-elect on Monday all through Friday and I will engage them one on one on why I want to lead the Senate and answer whatever questions they may put before me and then we'll take it up from there."