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From Jonas Ike, Abuja
The struggle for the position of Minority Leader of the House of Representatives is not yet over as the suspension of seven principal actors in the saga by the National Working Committee of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party PDP on Thursday has added a new dimension to the crisis.
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan on Friday had announced the suspension of the House Minority Leader Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, Hon. Lynda Ikpeazu (Anambra, PDP), Hon. Toby Okechukwu (Enugu, PDP), Hon. Gideon Gwani (Kaduna, PDP), Hon.Oluwole Oke (Osun, PDP), Hon.Anayo Edwin( Ebonyi, PDP) and Hon. Adekoya Adel Majid (Ogun, PDP).
He had earlier summoned them to appear before the PDP NWC saying that the summon is in line with section 10 of the party’s constitution.
On Tuesday, the plenary session of the House became rowdy as choice of lawmakers to fill the positions of minority leadership generated altercations amidst the 9th Assembly lawmakers.
The party having the highest number of minority representatives the Peoples Democratic Party PDP were said to have submitted a list to the speaker to choose a Minority Leader without considering the other elected members of other minority parties elected into the House and it resulted in a chaos.
As the crisis festered, the Speaker Hon.Femi Gbajabiamila made efforts to douse the tension created by his choice of Hon. Elumelu against the list submitted by the PDP Caucus and members of minority parties in the House.
To this effect, he thereafter inaugurated members of some Ad-hoc Committee chosen from all the parties that won election into the House to ensure that peace is restored and the crisis resolved amicably.
He also announced the constitution of members of body of principal officers of the House who mostly were chosen from the ruling All Progressives Congress APC.
He appointed Hon. Hassan Ado Doguwa, Hon. Tahir Monguno, Hon.Ohiozoje Akpaterson and Hon. Nkiruka Onyejeocha as House Leader and Chief Whip, Deputy Leader and deputy Whip respectively.
Moreover, the newly constituted House Ad-hoc Committee on Media and Public Affairs led by Hon. Kadijat Ibrahim held several news conferences saying that the House is not in crisis.
However, the announcement of the suspension of of the lawmakers by the PDP including the new Minority Leader Hon. Elumelu has added a new twist to the crisis.
Interestingly, the three PDP contenders to the minority leadership position Hon. Kingsley Chinda (Rivers), Hon. Ndudi Elumelu (Delta) and Hon. Chukwuka Onyema (Anambra) are third term members of the House.
While Elumelu and Onyema were elected into the House for their first term in 2007 and they didn’t win re-election in 2015, Hon. Chinda was first elected in 2011 and has been consistently re-elected therein.
Nonetheless, the latest suspension of five lawmakers by the PDP the main opposition party has thrown some spanners into the works of the lawmakers and has indeed ignited a fresh dimension to the crisis.
Elumelu in his reaction to the suspension said that the PDP did not give him and hs suspended lawmaker colleagues the opportunity of fair hearing
He said that the invitation sent to them by the PDP NWC to appear before it only got to him a few hours before the suspension as he had travelled to Delta State after plenary on Thursday.
As it is, the new Minority Leader cannot function effectively as he has lost the support base of his party the PDP whose membership is the highest in the number of opposition legislators.
He cannot truely be called a Minority Leader in the true sense of the word since he does not enjoy the support of other members of minority parties in the House.
He won’t be able to summon any caucus meeting of the PDP members nor even address a gathering of members of the minority parties in the House.
It will not be unexpected if members of these other parties decide to team up with one of the contenders of the minority leadership who lost out in the process to truncate passage of legislation from this officer.
Already some of the lawmakers have been reacting to the leadership crisis at the lower chamber of the legislature expressing their resolve to slug it out with anyone that dares to change the status quo.
One of them, Hon.Ossai N.Ossai (Delta, PDP) has vowed to resist any attempt to change the current state of affairs as it concerns the minority leadership.
The lawmaker in an interview with journalists said that the National Assembly can only elect those who are ready and willing to protect the nation’s interest into leadership position.
Other groups have also been reacting to the crisis.
One of the groups Wike Continuity Movement in a statement said that the announcement of Hon Ndudi Elumelu as PDP Minority Leader against the initial nomination of Hon O K Chinda by the PDP leadership in the house was an insult to democracy.
It described it as a temporary setback which can never work and already dead on arrival.
It said;”Darkness can never overcome light. There is always light at the end of the tunnel.
It added that except the speaker of the house does not want peace. If the senate can approve the PDP list, why cant the House of Representatives do same.
This act goes a long way to show that someone was trying to sabotage the will of the PDP Members in the House to satisfy those that betrayed PDP during the elections of the House of Reps Leadership.
Although the devil can prepare a war he can not finish, but at last God will always take glory.
We urge the National Working Committee of PDP not to take this lightly, as a stitch in time saves nine.
PDP can not be a slave to the ruling party”.
Some other lawmakers have also been reacting to the development in like manner.
One of the lawmakers Hon. Luke Abejide representing Yagba Federal Constituency of Kogi State said that due process was not followed as minority leadership position isn’t just for a particular party but other political parties should be considered.
He added that the choice of who becomes the leader of the minority parties in the House should be the collective decision of all of these parties.
Moreover, members of the minority parties in the House have addressed a press conference decscribing the suspension of the 7 PDP lawmaker by the party as aberration.
While reaffirming their support for the Speaker Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila they added that not only the 7 lawmakers but other minority party members ought to have been suspended by the leaders of these minor parties as they chose the foremost ranking member as their leader.
And so, now that the PDP has suspended the seven lawmakers that were seen as the principal instigators of the crisis in the House, the stage is now set for a guerrilla warfare in the green chamber of the apex legislature.
Glaringly, this present crisis all boils down to the age-long struggle for power and who gets what when and how in terms of position will continue to affect the successes and otherwise of this legislative institution- the 9th House of Representatives of Nigeria.