BY OBUTE JAMES
Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume a one time lecturer, Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, Majority Leader in the Senate and currently, Chairman, Senate Committee on Army was born on 20th November, 1959 to a Muslim father, Ndume and Christian Mother, Magadaline.
He hails from Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno State.
While he was with his mother, he remained a Christian until his first year in the secondary school when he joined his father. He had three sisters and one brother. They are: Diana, Martha, Naomi and Daniel. Ndume is married with children.
Education and Employment
After completing his primary school at Gadamayo Primary School in Gwoza, in 1972. He proceeded to Comprehensive Secondary School Mubi in then Gongola now Adamawa State from 1973 to 1978. From there, he went on to study Marketing in Kaduna Polytechnic where he obtained his OND and HND in 1980 and 1982 respectively. Ndume proceeded to Federal Polytechnic Ilaro in Ogun State between 1982 – 1983 for his compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
He joined the Ramat Polytechnic Maiduguri as a lecturer in 1983 rising to the rank of a Senior Lecturer.
In 1988, 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 obtained M.Ed in 1990.
He returned in 1990 to Ramat Polytechnic, Maiduguri, where he was lecturing before travelling abroad. He spent 20 years, cumulatively as lecturer before venturing into politics in 2003.
Election into House of Reps
In 2003, Ndume was elected to represent his people for the seat of Chibok/Damboa/Gwoza Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives on the platform of ANPP, a position he occupied from 2003 – 2011. On the inauguration of the sixth (6th) Assembly in 2007, he was unanimously elected as the Minority Leader and served creditably.
Major political challenge
Senator Ndume first major political challenge began when he decided to contest for the Borno South Senatorial District election in 2011.
The then acclaimed godfather of Borno politics, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff made all effort to thwart his ambition of becoming a senator. Sheriff, the Governor of Borno State at the time was interested in the position of the Senate Minority Leader and felt that Ndume having occupied the same position in the House of Representatives would be a threat to his ambition.
Apparently to clear the way for Sheriff, Ndume was denied the Senate ticket.
Ndume had won the 2003 and 2007 parliamentry elections under the platform of All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP.
However, about 100 days to the general election, Ndume defected to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Following this action, Sheriff allegedly vowed to unmake him and consequently send him to political oblivion.
Following Ndume’s defection, the PDP re-opened the sale of nomination forms. Alhaji Sanda Garba, who had been the only aspirant for the Borno South Senate seat, stepped down to make way for Ndume as the PDP candidate. In the election, Ndume won 146,403 votes, ahead of Dr. Asaba Vilita Bashir of the ANPP with 133,734 votes and Alhaji Unaru Ibrahim of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) with 20,414 votes.
Dramatically, Ndume was not the only one who won the election under PDP but through his influence several candidates of PDP for the state house of assembly election won.
The late Senator Ahmed Zannah of PDP who contested the Borno Central Senatorial District election directly against the then incumbent Governor Sheriff in 2011 won the election while Sheriff lost out completely.
Ndume in the 7th National Assembly, 2011 to 2015 was appointed Senate Committee Chairman on MDGs.
His alleged links to insurgents
The battle for political survival was not yet over for Ali Ndume when in the course of his membership of a Presidential committee to negotiate with Boko Haram, he was arrested.
The committee was established by President Goodluck Jonathan to consider opening talks with Boko Haram in view of the school of thought then that a military approach alone would not be effective due to the impossibility of identifying the target.
In November 21, 2011, Senator Ndume was arrested for alleged connection to Boko Haram by the Nigerian State Security Service.
This however, followed alleged interrogation of a suspected Boko Haram member and spokesman, Mallam Ali Konduga by the DSS. The action of DSS then was ironical as Ndume was mandated by government to reach out to Boko Haram members. After he was arrested on trumped up charges of terrorism, Ndume maintained that he had did nothing wrong as all he was doing was in line with the mandate of his committee. His ordeal, sources revealed was not unconnected with Ali Modu Sheriff who swore to deal with him.
Ndume went through pain and agony when he was charged to court and reminded in prison custody, He was prosecuted at the court by DSS but Appeal Court discharged and acquitted him.
Prior to 2015 general election, he was wooed to APC where he contested the Borno South Senatorial Election and Won.
One of the players in the 8th Senate
Ndume was one of the major players in the 8th National Assembly. He contested for the office of the Deputy Senate President but lost to Senator Ike Ekweremadu. However, at a mini election of the APC Senators from North East Geo-political zone, Ndume defeated Senator Ahmed Lawan to emerge as Senate Leader.
His removal as Senate Leader
Due to disagreement and desperate effort of the then Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki to pacify the leadership of APC over his emergence as Senate President, Ndume was removed as Senate Leader.
APC leadership had considered Senator Ahmed Lawan as their preferred candidate in 2015 but Saraki was elected before most of the Senators of APC, came to the chamber after their meeting with party leaders on the day of inauguration of the 8th National Assembly.
Ndume who had performed the functions of the Senate Leader earlier on 10th January before proceeding to 1 pm prayer was removed as Senate Leader same day before the end of the prayer session.
The letter read by Saraki purportedly from the APC Senate Cacaus said:
“NOTICE OF CHANGE OF LEADERSHIP; This is to inform Your Excellency and the Senate that after several meetings held on Monday, 9th of January, 2017, and upon due deliberation and consultation, the APC Caucus of the Senate, hereby wish to notify you of the change in the leadership of the Senate that the new Senate leader is now Senator Ahmad Lawan, representing Yobe North Senatorial District.
Kindly accept our esteem regards and best assurances. Yours faithfully”, Senate President Saraki read the letter.
In swift reaction, Ndume said the decision to remove him came as a shock.
According to sources, Ndume’s predicament might not be unconnected with his statement on the Senate stand on the rejection of Ibrahim Magu as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), where he said Senate failure to confirm Magu did not mean total rejection.
His words “Let me say I do not have much to say because actually I was leading the business of the Senate and when it was like quarter to 1 O’clock as usual, I asked my Deputy to sit in for me while I go to pray. On coming back, I discovered that the session is over and one of my colleagues approached me and said leader what happened and I said what happened? and he said there has been announcement in the change of leadership, I said I didn’t know.
“At this point, that is the position. I didn’t know that there was change of leadership because I was not there I went for prayers and I didn’t know what actually happened and I cannot say much now. But there is a process, and I am not aware of any meeting where the decision was taken.”
In March 2017, Ali Ndume was suspended for six months by the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges headed by Senator Chris Anyanwu, for calling for a probe into the allegations of imported bullet proof range rover with fake documents involving Senate President Bukola Saraki seized by the Nigerian Customs and that of perjury involving Senator Dino Melaye. After exonerating both Mr. Saraki and Melaye the Committee recommended a one year ban to Ndume claiming the
former Senate Leader failed to conduct proper investigation before making the said allegations.
In a swift response Ndume denied making any allegations against anybody. Saying he only raised the issues in the Senate as reported by the media.
Ndume challenged his suspension in the court and the court declared the action of the Senate illegal, null and void.
While Ndume made it back to the Senate for the 9th National Assembly Saraki could not win the parliamentary election in Kwara State. Dino Melaye who decamped to PDP like Saraki won the Kogi West Senatorial District Election but Appeal Court recently sacked him and ordered for rerun election. As of the of this report, the main challenger of Melaye, Senator Smart Adeyemi is leading in the election declared inconclusive by INEC.
Contest for the Senate Presidency
Senator Ndume on June 11, 2019 contested election for the office of Senate President of the 9th National Assembly. He however lost against Senator Ahmed Lawan, an anointed candidate of the ruling party who emerged Winner.
While Lawan polled 79 votes to emerge the winner, Ndume scored 28 votes out of the total votes of 107.
Promise to work with Lawan
Shortly after the election and inauguration of 9th Senate Ndume in an interview with Journalists said “the election was not a fight but a contest.”
According to Ndume his involvement in the contest had given the process, credibility.
“I hope that the party will also agree with me that what I did was to insist on doing the right thing in the interest of democracy.
He said he had accepted his fate snd pledged to support Lawan to succeed, “This is so because his success is our success,” Ndume said.
Ndume was appointed Chairman Senate Committee on Army in the 9th Senate.
Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume has sponsored several executive and private member bills as presented a lot of motion.
Observers also confirmed that Ndume stands out when it comes to constituency projects and intervention. Apart from those of his constituents he was able to engage in government job, he has also been able to establish many of them into meaningful business through financial assistance, purchase and distribution of motorcycles, tricycles, cars particularly among others.
Borno South where Senator Ndume hails from is ravaged by Boko Haram terrorists.