Chuks Okocha in Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday moved to contain the festering crisis in the party arising from the minority leadership tussle in the House of Representatives as it set up a committee, headed by a former Senate President, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, to chart a pathway to the resolution of the crisis.
The setting up of the five-man committee was one of the key decisions taken at a meeting yesterday in Abuja between the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) and the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT).
The committee, which has been tasked with the responsibility of reviewing the crisis and proffering recommendations to guard against a reocurrence, is to report back within seven days.
Other members of the committee are former Senate presidents – Senator Adolphus Wabara and Senator David Mark; a former deputy Senate president, Senator Ibrahim Mantu; and a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Austin Opara.
The PDP was plunged into a crisis last week following the announcement of Hon. Ndudi Elumelu by House of Representatives Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, as the minority leader.
The speaker also named Hon. Toby Okechukwu as deputy minority leader; Hon. Gideon Gwani, minority chief whip and Hon. Adesegun Adekoya, minority deputy chief whip.
However, a list earlier sent by the PDP to the speaker contained the names of Hon. Kingsley Chinda representing Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency of Rivers State as Minority Leader; Hon. Chukwuka Onyema as Deputy Minority Leader; Hon. Yakubu Barde as Minority Whip; and Hon. Muraina Ajibola as Deputy Minority Whip.
Last Thursday, the party summoned Elumelu and six others to appear before it for allegedly conniving with the All Progressives Congress (APC) House leadership to undermine the opposition party.
The six others were Hon. Wole Oke, Lynda Ikpeazu, Anayo Edwin, Gideon Gwadi, Toby Okechukwu and Adekoya Abdul-Majid.
Last Friday, the party suspended Elumelu and the six others for one month over allegations of disobeying the party, a move that further deepened the crisis in the party.
Addressing journalists after yesterday’s meeting, which lasted over three hours, the Chairman of the BoT, Senator Walid Jubrin, said the two organs of the party resolved to cooperate to prevent the crisis arising from the leadership tussle from festering.
“We have decided to improve our relationship between the National Working Committee and the BoT. We resolved to cooperate and consult with each other anytime to avoid any confusion.
“Secondly, we have decided to wade into the fracas in the House of Representatives as regards the minority leadership. To that effect, a committee has been formed under the chairmanship of Senator Iyorchia Ayu with Senator David Mark, Senator Ibrahim Mantu and Senator Adolphus Wabara as members while Hon. Austin Opara is secretary of the committee.
“They have been given a week to submit their reports to the BoT and the National Working Committee; thereafter, a decision would be taken.
“We agreed again that our party will play the role of opposition. We are in support of the process going on at the Supreme Court and thirdly we congratulate the judiciary for a job well done. We are very encouraged with the judges and if they continue, our democracy in Nigeria will be better.
“So I call on all our members to be law-abiding and to ensure that our party keeps moving and to play the role of opposition. We have to be very careful and obey the party because the party is supreme.
“We congratulate the new leadership of the Senate for coming out with the leaders and the minority leaders. I assure you that the issue of House of Representatives will soon be solved by the party. We must ensure that we do not break this party.
“The party will continue and nobody will make any attempt to do away with our party,” he said.
He, however, refused to entertain any questions after the media briefing.
But THISDAY gathered that the two organs of the party might have bowed to pressure from some concerned members of the party who have called on the PDP to allow the will of the 111 members said to have endorsed the Elumelu-led group to prevail.
First Republic Minister of Information, Chief Edwin Clark, was one of the stakeholders who had called on the party to let go and concentrate on more important national issues.