The minority caucus in the Federal House of Representatives, numbering in excess of 111 (One Hundred and Eleven) elected members of the House, on Monday, July 8, joined the groundswell of voices and groups in support of calls for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, National Working Committee, NWC, to lift the one month suspension handed down to the Minority Leader of the House of Reps, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu and Six other PDP members, even as they urged the PDP leadership to accept Hon. Elumelu and the other suspended members as the new Minority Leader and Principal minority officers of the House.
The Group which comprises representatives of the 9 minority parties led by Hon. Legor Idagbo (PDP -Bekwarra, Obudu and Obanliku Federal Constituency, Cross Rivers state), affirmed that the letter sent by the PDP leadership to Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila dated 1st July, 2019 was belated.
He explained that all the Minority parties had through a letter dated 20th June, 2019 communicated the nomination of Hon. Ndudi Elumelu and others principal officers to the Speaker in tandem with the provisions of the Standing Order 7(8) which derived its strength from Section 60 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
While urging the PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus and National Working Committee (NWC) as well as the Board of Trustees (BOT) to rescind the suspension of the six PDP members, the lawmakers passed a vote of confidence on Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila; Hon. Ndudi Elumelu and the newly constituted Minority Principal Officers.
When asked about the allegation bothering on the N1 million inducement by the Elumelu’s faction, Hon. Idagbo, who described the allegation as an “insult”, noted that it would have been justifiable if the promoters of the allegation accused them of collecting N1 billion.
He also promised to make public the list of the 111 lawmakers drawn from all the 9 minority parties who endorsed Hon. Elumelu and others as the Minority Principal Officers.
In the bid to ensure amicable resolution of the crisis, he appealed to all well-meaning PDP leaders and those with legislative experience to intervene with the view to stabilizing the party, even as he pledged their resolve to work with the PDP National Chairman and other stakeholders in the bid to clinch power in 2023.
While exonerating Hon. Elumelu and others of any misdeeds, Hon. Idagbo argued that all the 111 members should have been suspended by the party rather than isolating the six members.
He said: “We have called this press conference to address the recent happenings on the issue of minority leadership of the House of Representatives. According to the house rules, particularly Order 7 Rule 8, which states and I quote ‘members of the minority parties in the house shall nominate from among them, the Minority Leader, Minority Whip, Deputy Minority Leader and Deputy Minority Whip’.
“We, the Members of the Minority parties adhered to this provision in the selection of 1. Hon. Ndudi Elumelu; 2. Hon. Tobi Okechukwu; 3. Hon. Gideon Gwani; 4. Hon. Segun Adesegun as, Minority Leader, Minority Deputy Leader, Minority Whip and Minority Deputy Chief Whip respectively.
“The Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila was communicated the resolution by majority members of the minority caucus on the 2nd July, 2019, and he went ahead in accordance with our rules to read same on the floor on the 3rd, July 2019.
“With the 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 also reinstate our resolute commitment 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 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 these dynamics, to rescind their earlier decision to suspend our leaders, who through no fault of theirs were nominated and elected by majority of members of the minority parties. Were an offense to had been committed in this process, the perpetrators would be all 111 of us not six members as were suspended by our great party.
“Finally, 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 so as not to affect the fortunes of our party in the future,” Hon. Idagbor told Legislative Correspondents.
It will be recalled that following the announcement of Hon. Ndudi Elumelu and others as Minority leader and principal officers respectively, by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, the leadership and NWC of PDP, led by it’s National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, had summarily invited the new Minority Officers who, as it turned out, were not the ones originally nominated by the party, to a showdown meeting with the intent of unraveling how their names, which the Speaker had announced, had strangely substituted those originally nominated by the party and forwarded to the leadership of the House.
The invited lawmakers had however pleaded their inability to attend the meeting, through a correspondence authorized by the new minority leader and had even suggested alternate dates to honour the party’s invitation, but the PDP leadership, seemingly miffed by this ‘disobedience’ to the invitation, summarily suspended them.
The suspended lawmakers are: Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, Minority Leader – (PDP-Delta); Toby Okechukwu, Deputy Minority Leader – (PDP-Enugu); Hon. Gideon Gwani (PDP-Plateau) – Minority Chief Whip and Adesegun Adekoya, Minority Deputy Chief Whip – (PDP -Ogun) as well as Hon. Wole Oke (PDP-Osun); Linda Ikpeazu (PDP-).