*Lawmakers attempt to snatch mace
By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives was on fire yesterday over announcement of the principal officers of the 9th House.
The representatives engaged themselves in verbal war and fisticuffs which led to the forceful adjournment of the House.
The development was consequent upon the announcement of principal officers for the minority party of the House by the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila.
Gbajabiamila had hardly announced Hon. Ndudi Elumelu from Delta State as the Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu from Enugu State, Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Gideon Gwani, Minority Whip and Hon. Adesegun Adekoya as the Deputy Minority Whip when an imbroglio ensued amongst the members of the opposition parties.
It will be recalled that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and opposition caucus in the House had nominated Hon. Kingsley Chinda as the Minority Leader from Rivers State, Hon. Chukwuka Onyema from Anambra State as the Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Yakubu Barde from Kaduna State as the Minority Whip and Hon. Muriano Ajibola from Oyo State as Deputy Minority Whip.
Defending his action, the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila said that his position was informed by a letter he received signed by PDP and other minority parties.
According to him, the letter was signed by 90 members of the opposition parties.
This further generated tension and amidst the rowdiness, some unidentified lawmakers rushed to snatch the mace, the symbol of authority of the legislature, but were prevented by the Sergeant-at-Arms.
This however, prompted an abrupt end of the plenary session.
Briefing National Assembly Correspondents after the rowdy session, the aggrieved Chinda faction of the opposition party said that the nomination of Elumelu and company as the principal officers for the minority party would not stand.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Chinda who was flanked by some of his colleagues including the adopted officers said that some colleagues of his must have ambushed them.
Showing a correspondence, the lawmaker said that a series of inter party was held among the opposition parties where all the issues of nomination were rectified.
He said: “The issue is that of the minority leadership. It is the standard practice in parliament that 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 in discussion with other minority parties agreed on our leadership in parliament and forwarded a letter to Mr Speaker dated 21st June 2019 and a copy of the letter was received on the 26th of June 2019 in the office of the speaker. Another letter was also sent to the Senate President on 21st June 2019 and a copy of the letter was received on the 26th of June 2019.
“Yesterday, the Senate in compliance with parliamentary practice read out the letter from the APC and the letter from the PDP. The Senate President advised senators who were aggrieved to go back to their parties, conclude the issues and as soon as he received any other correspondence from any of the party that he will also read it on the floor.
“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 of the house have adopted some other persons as the minority leaders outside what was forwarded to him by the party and that he would want to adopt that.”
“We hope and pray and very sincerely the speaker is experienced, we know that he will be humble enough to realise and accept that mistakes have been made and that these mistakes will be corrected.”
In this manner, Ndudi Elumelu’s faction told journalists that their nomination was duly endorsed by 90 members of the Minority party.
Accompanied by lawmakers from PDP, Action Alliance, AA, African Democratic Council, ADC and All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, Elumelu who first spoke added that that there nomination by the Speaker followed due process.
He said: “Let me clearly state that we are all from nine political parties and for some of us who are from the PDP, we are very loyal to PDP. We believe in PDP strongly. We believe in the ideologies of PDP and of course, we have no other party than PDP.”
“We have followed what has happened and accepted our nomination based on order 7 rule 8 which clearly states that, ‘members from Minority parties shall have cause to nominate those who should be either Minority Leader, Deputy Minority Leader, Minority Whip or Deputy Minority Whip’.”
Lending their voices, other lawmakers from some of the other opposition parties said they were on the side of Elumelu faction.
Hon. Leke Joseph (ADC, Lagos), said “Minority Leader is not for one party, they (Chinda) are making mistake of being APC and PDP in the House. We have other political parties like my own party, ADC, we have APGA, we have PRP, we have AA, we have SDP and all of us are here. From here you should be able to judge using your right senses. l personally signed for Honourable Ndudi Elumelu as my Minority Leader and I believe equally, I have my colleagues here in ADC, they did the same thing so you cannot choose a leader from your party and come and impose on us.” Hon. Kingsley Chinma (AA, Imo), said “We the members of Action Alliance in the 9th Assembly have resolved unanimously and unequivocally nominated and adopted
Ndudi Elumelu as our Minority Leader for the 9th Assembly…. Let us reemphasized here that the business of electing or nominating Minority leadership in the House is solely the business of the members.”
Hon. Ifeanyi Anthony Igbezi (APGA, Anambara), said “On behalf of the entire members of APGA in the 9th Assembly signed, approved and elected all the Minority Leaders of the 9th Assembly under the leadership of Right Honourable Ndudi Elumelu as the Minority Leader of the 9th Assembly and the rest of others.”
Also defending the action of the Speaker, the Adhoc Committee on Media and Public Affairs of the House led by Hon, Adedayo Adeyeye, Ekiti South stated that Gbajabiamila broke no rules.