The minority caucus of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the House of Representatives has declared support for the factional minority leader of the parliament, Ndudi Elumelu, on his emergence.
The caucus also passed a vote of confidence on the newly constituted minority leadership, saying its decision to stand by the principal officers was in tandem with House Standing Order, i.e Order 7, Rule 8, which is a derivative of section 60 of the 1999 constitution as amended.
Addressing a press conference Monday, members of the caucus, led by Legor Idagbo, representing Bekwara/Obudu/Obanliku Federal Constituency of Cross River State, said though they had great respect for the party, it should also be noted that the parliament was an independent body that couldn’t be coerced by external influence to accept any leadership not endorsed by majority of its members.
It will be recalled that speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, had last Wednesday, announced Elumelu as the Minority Leader; Toby Okechukwu, Deputy Minority Leader; Gideon Gwadi and Adekoya Abdul-Majid as Minority Whip and Deputy Whip respectively, against the choices preferred by the PDP.
The party had nominated Kingsley Chinda as Minority Leader; Chukwuka Onyema as Deputy Minority Leader; Yakubu Barde as Minority Whip; and Muraina Ajibola as Deputy Minority Whip.
At Thursday plenary, recognition was only given to Elumelu’s faction as principal officers, adevelopment which prompted the PDP to summon Elumelu’s faction.
On Friday, the party suspended them alongside Lynda Ikpeazu and Wole Oke.
However, the PDP caucus Monday appealed to the party and the National Working Committee, NWC, to rescind their decision on Elumelu and others.
Idagbo: “We have called this press conference to address the recent happenings on the issue of the minority leadership of the House of Representatives.
“With greatest respect and a huge sense of loyalty to our great party, we commend our national chairman for the great job of piloting the affairs of our party that has seen the fortune of our party increase in the last few years.
“We reinstate our resolve to work closely with our national chairman and our party in ensuring that our party returns to power in 2023. That said, we would like to also state that the parliament since 1999 till date, has remained an independent body that has not been coerced into accepting any leadership imposed on it by external influence not in in line with the wishes of the majority of its members.
“We would like to appeal to our party chairman and the NWC of our great party who we know are seasoned and experienced politicians that understand this dynamics to rescind their earlier decision to suspend our leaders, who through no fault of their own were nominated and elected by majority of the members of the minority parties.
“Were an offense to have been committed in this process, the perpetrators would be all 111 of us not 6 members as were suspended by our great party.
“We use this opportunity to sue for peace and to state that we are available for further discussions with the NWC of our great party on how to resolve these issues and move our party forward.
“We call on well meaning party leaders, particularly those with legislative experience to intervene on our behalf in order for this matter to be laid to rest son as not to affect the fortune of our party in the future.
“The minority parties hereby pass a vote of confidence on the newly constituted minority leadership.
“Our decision to constitute the minority leadership of the 9th House of Representatives is in consonance with House Standing Order i.e Order 7, Rule 8 which is a derivative is section 60 of the 1999 constitution as amended. We stand by our decision. We stand by our leaders”.
The members described as insult the speculations making the rounds that they were induced with one million Naira to append their signatures in support of Elumelu on the day of his nomination.
“I do not have that information. I speak on good authority and I don’t think one million Naira is a figure to induce any member of the National Assembly. That is an insult. If you had said one billion, I would have asked questions. One million is an insult to members of the National Assembly”.
Meanwhile, the PDP-backed choice for the minority leadership position, Kingsley Chinda told Vanguard that the party had called for stay of execution on the matter.
He said: “The party has actually asked us to stay action. Everybody should stay action on the minority leadership issue. So, I will obey the party’s instruction; we will not take any further step until I hear from the party.”
The lawmaker, however, expressed worry about some media reports which he said distorted the fact of the matter.
According to him, the nomination of the minority principal officers was collectively done by all the opposition parties in the House.
Chinda added that he was not desperate to become the minority leader of the House, saying“one other thing; I see some media reports that are distorting the entire facts, I read publications talking about election. There was no election and the rule does not provide for election for principal officers.
”Principal officers are by appointment. It is only the speaker and the deputy speaker that are elected. And the appointment is by nomination from among members.
“Second, members of other minorities also attended a meeting with us. So, that impression that the PDP just wrote a letter was also very wrong. PDP called all of us to a meeting at Wadata Plaza where nominations were made and we, members, asked NEC to go back with the nominations and then pick from the people we have nominated.
“A second meeting was called at Asokoro which members of all the other minority parties attended. We discussed and concluded. In fact, Ossy Prestige of APGA raised an issue on behalf of other minority parties that they should be considered in anything that comes to the minority parties.
”The attendance register is there. I don’t think they will deny it. Those who attended the meeting wrote their names themselves, not typed and assigned. So, that impression that PDP just wrote a letter without consulting other parties is wrong.
“Again, no meeting was convened on the list they sent to speaker. They met members individually and asked them to endorse. But for me, I am not desperate over House leadership. The party has said stay all action. I will stay but the wrong information that is going to the media is what needs to corrected.”