Ndudi Elumelu, the lawmaker representing Aniocha/Oshimili federal constituency in Delta State, has insisted that he was voted as the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives by all the nine minority parties in the chamber.
This is just as another faction of minority parties’ lawmakers led by Kingsley Chinda, the lawmaker representing Obio/Akpor federal constituency in Rivers State, has faulted the announcement of Elumelu as the House’s Minority Leader.
The dilemma is sequel to the fracas which erupted on the floor of the green chamber on Wednesday, as lawmakers belonging to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) engaged in a free-for-all over the appointment of the Minority Leader.
Speaking at a press conference after Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House, hurriedly suspended plenary, Chinda said he was the person nominated by the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the Minority Leader of the house.
The lawmaker explained that it has been the tradition for the major opposition party in the House to nominate the individual who would lead the minority parties in the house.
He accused Gbajabiamila of ignoring the letter sent by the PDP leadership for that sent by an unrecognised conglomerate of parties.
Chinda said: “First, we speak to you as members of the minority caucus in the House of Representatives. Let us very sincerely apologise to you and to Nigerians for the fracas that took place today in the house. It is not in our character as very responsible people. It is not our wish that we should go that way. It is also not proper. But as parliamentarians, we will not sit down and see our rights being trampled upon. So, we sincerely apologise to Nigerians.
“The issues are that of the minority leadership. It is standard parliamentary practice that in parliament, minority leadership comes from amongst minority parties and the correspondence is always sent by the major minority party. In our case, that was followed. The PDP held discussions with other minority parties, agreed on a leadership in the parliament and forwarded a letter to Mr Speaker, dated 21st of June, 2019. A copy of the letter was received on the 26th of June, 2019.
“Yesterday, the Senate, in compliance with democratic practice, read out the letters from the APC and the PDP. Of course, there were dissenting voices. The President in his wisdom advised senators who were aggrieved to go back to their parties and resolve the issues.
“However and very unfortunately, in the House of Representatives, the reverse is the case. We came today only to hear our dear Speaker attempting to read what he termed as correspondence from a conglomerate of political parties, that some members had endorsed some other persons as minority leaders aside from the one that was forwarded to him by the party.”
Chinda stated that the PDP has met with other minority parties twice in order to comply with Order 7 Rule 8 of the House Standing Orders which stipulates that minority “parties” should elect their leaders.
“In spite of this, we are taken aback to attend plenary today and see this ambush. It is unfortunate; it is very unparliamentary; we are not going to take it, we must do things properly,” he said.
But at his own press conference, Elumelu said he got the support of all the minority parties and was, therefore, the individual properly qualified to occupy the position.
Despite defying the purported directive of the PDP, Elumelu, however, said he still remains a committed member of the opposition party.
He said, “We are here to speak to Nigerians, but most importantly to also reaffirm or reintroduce the newly appointed, elected, endorsed and nominated minority leaders of this great chamber. I will, first of all, say that graciously, God has so made it that my colleagues in the nine minority parties have so nominated me as their minority leader.
“Let me clearly state that we are all from nine political parties and for some us who are from the PDP, we are very loyal to the PDP; we believe in PDP’s progress, we believe in the ideology of the PDP and we have no other party than the PDP.”
Elumelu explained that his emergence complied with Order 7 Rule 8, which he said empowered members from minority parties to nominate those who should be their leaders.
It is expected that the issue will be resolved when the House resumes for plenary on Thursday (today).