Senator Ali Ndume paid for publicly going against a Senate decision, with his job. He played himself
He was carrying on as usual--sharing a joke or two with colleagues, pumping fists with APC loyalists, heading for prayers and leafing through the newspapers.
It was just another day for the Borno Senator.
It wouldn't be for long, though.
Moments later, Ndume was the ex-majority leader of the Senate.
It happened so fast, even Ndume was dazed.
"I don't have much to say", a visibly flustered Ndume told journalists in the wake of his sack. Palace coups have the tendency to leave the victim speechless.
"I was leading the business of the Senate and when it was like 12:45pm, as usual, I asked my deputy (Senator Bala Ibn Na'Allah) to stand in for me while I go to pray.
"On coming back, I discovered that the session was over and one journalist approached me and said 'Leader, what happened?' And I asked what happened and he said there was an announcement of a change of leadership. I said I didn't know. And at this point, that is the position.
"I didn't know that there was change of leadership because I was not there; I went to pray and I didn't know what actually happened".
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Sabi Abdullahi, said Ndume didn't need to be informed before his ejection was communicated to the press.
"The Senate made the announcement and the announcement is self explanatory. Another leader was announced and as far as I am concerned, it is an announcement that somebody is announced as the new leader of the majority", Abdullahi said.
Ndume's troubles began in December.
The Senate had rejected the nomination of Ibrahim Magu by the Presidency as EFCC Chairman.
It was Abdullahi's call to relay the development to the press.
"The Senate wishes to inform the public that based on available security report, the Senate cannot proceed with the confirmation of Ibrahim Magu as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“The nomination of Ibrahim Magu is hereby rejected and has been returned to the President for further action,” Abdullahi announced.
Four days later, Ndume contradicted the resolution of the Senate after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We did not reject Ibrahim Magu as EFCC Chairman,” Ndume declared.
It was the day he lost his job.
Senators spoken to for this story say Ndume's words felt like a betrayal of the entire Senate.
On Tuesday, Ndume explained why he made that controversial declaration.
“What I said was that for us (Senate) to claim to have rejected a nominee sent to us by the President, we have to follow the right procedure, and observe our rules".
Ndume said the process that culminated in Magu's rejection wasn't transparent.
“The nominee should have been called into the chamber and presented before senators who will then openly vote on whether to accept or reject his or her nomination.
“In the case of Magu, that was not done. We only had a closed-door session and when we emerged, the Senate spokesperson claimed that he had been rejected. I had to set the record straight by saying we never rejected the nominee. This is because you don’t accept or reject a nominee at a closed session.
"Our votes and proceedings are there as evidence of my claims,” he said.
Ndume said he had been informed days earlier that moves were underway to remove him on account of his dissent with the leadership of the Senate.
Ndume said: “I was surprised that such a simple and harmless clarification could rattle and anger some of my colleagues.
“The other day, somebody mentioned to me that the Senate President had commissioned Dino Melaye to collect signatures to remove me. I didn’t pay much attention to the information because I actually thought it was a joke or a rumour.
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“I didn’t feel that disagreeing with colleagues, and sharing my understanding of what transpired at our closed session was an offence, grievous enough to cause my removal".
Well, now he knows.
Pulse reached out to Senator Melaye (who is an ally of Senate President Bukola Saraki) for a response to Ndume's allegations, but he wasn't immediately available for comments. Calls placed to his cellphone were neither answered nor returned at the time of heading to press.
Ndume was immediately replaced by Senator Ahmad Lawan who represents Yobe North in the upper legislative chamber.
Lawan belongs to the Senate Unity Forum--the anti-Saraki group in the Senate.
Lawan was the APC's choice for the position of Senate President before Saraki's clever politicking made the position his own in June of 2015.
The APC majority caucus in the Senate teamed up with Saraki to oust Ndume on Tuesday.
Political pundits say naming Lawan as Majority Leader on Tuesday is part of moves by Saraki to endear himself to the national leadership of the APC; after falling out with the party hierarchy on his way to emerging Senate President.
As for Ndume, he's now been left to rue the day he publicly went against Saraki and the rest of his colleagues in the Senate.