The Kaduna state governor, Nasir El-Rufai, on Thursday led Senators Ahmed Lawan, Danjuma Goje and Uba Sani 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.
Mr Lawan is the candidate supported by the 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 distinguished Senator Danjuma Goje from Gombe State and Distinguished Senator Ahmed Lawan from Yobe State and the senator-elect, Uba Sani, from my state.
We discussed steps to unify our leadership in the National Assembly starting with the Senate.
I am very pleased to announce that 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 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 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 order to assist Mr. President to deliver his promises, I have decided to respect his wish by not declaring to cRufaiontest this senate presidency. Instead, I am supporting the party's position thereby endorsing the candidature of Senator Ahmed Lawan.
Q: The 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 his excellency the governor Nasir El-Rufai said. Mine is to thank Senator 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 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 unity 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 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.