There was a rowdy session during plenary at the National House of Representatives on Wednesday as two factional minority leaders emerge.
The plenary turned rowdy after the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, read a letter from some members of the minority parties in the chamber instead of the letter submitted by the strongest opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
While reading the letter, Kingsley Chinda, a member of the PDP who believes he should have emerged Minority Leader, interrupted the Speaker while he was reading the letter around 2:30pm.
The letter was alegedly signed by 99 out of the 146 members of the minority political parties in the House.
Chinda cited Order 6 Rule 1 of the House Standing Orders, stating that members of the minority party in the chamber shall choose from among themselves the most experienced lawmaker from among themselves to lead them.
He further noted that the PDP as the majority minority party had written Gbajabiamila and had nominated him to be the Minority Leader.
According to him, others nominated for the minority position in the House were; Chukwuka Onyema, Deputy Minority Leader; Yakubu Barde, Minority Whip; and Muraina Ajibola as Deputy Minority Whip.
Chinda urged the Speaker to adopt the list sent by the PDP.
Naija Buzz News obtained a copy of the letter addressed to the Speaker of the House by the PDP;
The Speaker however over ruled Chinda, saying that there were nine minority political parties in the House and the PDP alone cannot determine who leads them.
Consequently, Gbajabiamila continued reading the letter which led to the protest by some lawmakers.
The protesting lawmakers went for the mace in the House, but the Sergeants-at-Arms and other security men quickly rushed forward to protect the mace.
Mr. Speaker further went on to read the letter and announce the minority leaders in the House.
He announced, Ndudi Elumelu as Minority Leader; Toby Okechukwu as Deputy Minority Leader; Gideon Gwani as Minority Whip and Adesegun Adekoya as Deputy Minority Whip.
After the announcement, he adjourned the plenary till Thursday before he was taken out of the chambers.
Chinda and his group however released a press briefing faulting the Speakers announcement.
Read Chinda’s statement below;
“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.”
“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,” Chinda stated.
In his own statement, Elumelu, who was announced as the Minority Leader by Gbajabiamila, said that his emergence was in-line with Order 7 and Rule 8, which according to him empowered members from minority parties to nominate their leaders.
Read his statement below (as sent to Naija Buzz News)
“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,” Elumelu said.
“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,” he added.
Jonathan Dennis is an Editor at Naija Buzz News Network. He oversees the production and publication of stories on NaijaBuzz.News and on Naija Buzz News TV. The former banker left his banking job to join Naija Buzz News in 2019. He was briefly the head of the “Wetin Dey Happen” news team. Jonathan is a proud ‘Akwa-Ibomite’ from Akwa Ibom State, South-South Nigeria.