- Party summons Elumelu, six others
Chuks Okocha in Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is enmeshed in a crisis over who occupies minority leadership positions in the House of Representatives.
Already, the crisis has pitted the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) against the 99-member Board of Trustees (BoT) of the party, an advisory body regarded by the PDP constitution as the conscience of the party.
While the NWC is insisting on its nominee, Hon. Kingsley Chinda, representing Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency of Rivers State filling the position of House minority leader, among others, the BoT has thrown its weight behind Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, representing Aniocha/Oshimili Constituency of Delta State and others who
House Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamiala, announced on Wednesday to fill the minority leadership positions.
Besides Elumelu, Gbajabiamila also announced Hon. Tobe Okechukwu as Deputy Minority Leader; Hon. Gideon Gwani, as Minority Chief Whip and Hon. Segun Adekoya as Deputy Minority Whip.
However, a list earlier sent by the PDP to the speaker contained he names of Chinda as Minority Leader; Hon. Chukwuka Onyema as Deputy Minority Leader; Hon. Yakubu Barde as Minority Whip; and Hon. Muraina Ajibola as Deputy Minority Whip.
The announcement of Elumelu and others as minority leaders triggered a wild protest from PDP lawmakers that turned the plenary into a tumultuous session.
THISDAY findings showed that the party’s NWC was not happy with the turn of event and has summoned Elumelu and six other members of the House of Representatives to a meeting today at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja.
A member of the BoT, who sought not to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, defended their decision to back Elumelu as against Chinda.
He told THISDAY that the position of the BoT members was that since the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, is from Rivers State, the position of the minority leader should go to Delta State where it was in the eighth National Assembly, when Hon. Leo Ogor held the position.
He said the list of those to occupy offices reserved for minority lawmakers that Gbajabiamila announced on Wednesday complied with the House Rule 8 (7) (1), which provides that members, and not party leaders, shall select their leaders among themselves.
According to him, the Elumelu group has the backing of 111 lawmakers as against the 36 supporting the Chinda group.
The source added that the Elumelu group was being supported by eight other minority political parties in the House of Representatives, including the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Labour Party (LP), the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Action Alliance (AA) and African Democratic Congress (ADC), among others.
He blamed PDP for not handling the issue well, saying the crisis got out of hand because the party, which has dominant members in the opposition in the House, appropriated all the minority leadership positions.
However, the Chairman of BoT, Senator Walid Jubrin, said the party organ was taking steps to stem the crisis.
He said he would soon summon a meeting to intervene, adding that “elders don’t stay at home for the goat to give birth under bondage.”
In a one-paragraph statement he read to journalists, Jubrin said: “As a result of the fracas in the House of Representatives during the selection of the PDP/minority, principal officers, the BoT and the NWC have decided to intervene immediately by the NWC forwarding the party’s list to the Speaker for urgent implementation. I want to assure all that the NWC and BoT will continue to work together in order to move the party forward.”
When asked about the brewing crisis, he said: “Was there any fracas? Did I know about the fracas?”
PDP Summons Elumelu, Oke, Ikpeazu, Others
The PDP, however, moved yesterday to assert its authority over those perceived as renegades in the House of Representatives as it rose from its 473rd meeting with a resolution to summon Elumelu and six others to a meeting today in Abuja.
Apart from Elumelu, others expected at the meeting are: Hon. Wole Oke, Hon. Lynda Ikpeazu, Hon. Anayo Edwin, Hon. Gideon Gwadi, Hon. Toby Okechukwu and Hon. Adekoya Abdul-Majid.
According to a statement by the spokesman of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, the summon is in line with the provisions of Chapter 10 (57)(3) of the Constitution of the PDP.