Nigeria: Ali Ndume, Former Marketing Teacher, Who Tried to Be Senate President

Photo: The Guardian
Ali Ndume

When Ali Ndume joined politics in 2003, he may never have thought he would one day aim for the number three position in the country, but that was the challenge fate threw at his door few months ago.

In the build up to the inauguration of the 9th Senate, Mr Ndume had promised a better legislative life not only for his constituents but for Nigerians generally.

"I wish to emphasise that my decision to contest for the Senate Presidency is informed by my conviction to contribute my quota to nation building," he wrote in his letter to Adams Oshiomole, Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

However, his ideas may not yet materialise. At least not as a Senate President.

On Tuesday, he lost election to emerge as president of the 9th Senate. Mr Ndume polled only 28 votes to lose to the other contender, Ahmed Lawan who had 78.

Education and early years

Mr Ndume was born on November 20, 1959 in Gwoza Town of Borno State and 12 years after birth, he obtained his first school leaving certificate in Gadamayo Primary School in Gwoza. That was in 1972.

One year after, he proceeded to Comprehensive Secondary School Mubi, former Gongola state, now Adamawa State, from 1973 to 1978 where he obtained his WASC. In the course of his secondary education, he was appointed Junior House Captain and promoted to House Captain in his final year.

After Secondary education, Mr Ndume, in 1978, proceeded to Kaduna State Polytechnic where he studied Marketing and obtained his Ordinary National Diploma (OND) in 1980 and Higher National Diploma (HND) in Marketing in 1982 at Upper Credit level.

He then went for his compulsory one year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Ogun State where he served with the Federal Polytechnic Ilaro in Ogun State between 1982 - 1983.

Life as a lecturer

Shortly after youth service, Mr Ndume was in 1983 employed as lecturer in Ramat Polytechnic, Maiduguri. Here, he rose to the rank of a Senior Lecturer and decided to further his studies seven years after.

In 1988, Mr Ndume was awarded the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Post-Graduate Scholarship to study Business and Computer Education at the University of Toledo Ohio, United States of America and graduated with a B.Ed and M.Ed in 1990 and was awarded Magna Cum Laude academic honour.

After graduation, Mr Ndume returned to Nigeria and continued with his teaching career at same institutions.

He joined politics in 2003.

Legislative career

Mr Ndume started his legislative career at the House of Representatives under the platform of All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP). In 2003, he was elected to represent Chibok/Damboa/Gwoza Federal Constituency and was re-elected in April 2007.

On the inauguration of the sixth Assembly in 2007, he was unanimously elected as the Minority Leader. But political disagreements would soon force him out of his party. He opted to join the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2010.

Controversies

Without doubt, Mr Ndume's life story cannot be completed without the mention of some controversial cases he got himself involved in.

In an August 2010 interview, Mr Ndume said "the PDP in the last 11 years has vandalized Nigeria; they have only introduced kidnapping, assassination, militancy, armed robbery, power degeneration and widespread religious crisis."

However, few months later, he defected to the same party he berated. He would later win re-election under the party in 2011.

In November 2011, Mr Ndume was reported to be linked to Boko Haram after his appointment to a committee saddled with the responsibility of opening talks with the sect.

A suspect, who claimed to be Boko Haram's spokesman, Ali Konduga, had told the Nigerian State Security Service that he was in contact with the senator. He was later cleared on the argument that Konduga was his contact person in the sect.

Ndume becomes Senate Leader

In 2015, he was re-elected under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) having defected to the party in the build up to the general election. With his support for the Saraki camp which later triumphed against party wishes, Mr Ndume was able to clinch the position of Senate Leader. But he was removed early 2017 controversially.

Even though it was not expressly stated by authorities, Mr Ndume's predicament might not be unconnected with the rejection by the Senate of Ibrahim Magu as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Mr Ndume had claimed the Senate did not reject the official, prompting a counter reaction by Senate spokesperson, Aliyu Abdullahi.

It appeared Mr. Ndume, who hails from Borno State, like Mr. Magu, was punished for disagreeing with the Senate over the way the EFCC acting chairman's nomination was handled by the upper legislative chamber.

The Senate APC caucus which endorsed him for the position later removed and replaced him with Ahmed Lawan, his major contender in this just concluded election.

The lawmaker was dealt another blow two months after when he was suspended for six months.

His second travail came when he asked the Senate to investigate public allegations of impropriety against the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and another senator, Dino Melaye.

It was alleged in the media that Dino Melaye 'did not graduate' from the Department of Geography at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. It was also alleged that Senate 'sinvitation of Customs boss, Hameed Ali, was due to his failure to clear Mr Saraki's bulletproof SUV.

Mr Ndume on March 21, 2017, called on the Senate to investigate the allegations 'so as to correct any misconception against the upper chamber', but he suffered for that.

Following recommendations by the Ethics and Privileges Committee, the Senate on March 30 suspended Mr Ndume.

Mr Ndume resumed back to the Senate in November having served out his suspension, a time which also coincided with a court order nullifying the suspension.

He returned as floor member and won re-election in 2019.

Ndume's loss

In March, Mr Ndume wrote the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, informing him of his intention to run for the office of the President of the Senate in the 9th National Assembly.

In the letter, Mr Ndume sought the blessing of the party to contest, believing the position would be zoned to the North East zone where he hails from.

But the party had another person in mind. The position was ceded to Ahmed Lawan. Despite this however, Mr Ndume forged on and finally lost today.

Shortly before the election, the PDP declared support for Mr Ndume but the support was not enough to earn him the coveted position.

In an election where 107 Senators-elect participated, he garnered 28 votes out of 107.

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