Lawmakers in the House of Representatives yesterday went into a rowdy session following a point of order raised by Deputy Leader, Rep Leo Ogor, faulting the composition of the minority leadership in the House.
Ogor had pointed out that the current leadership of the minority ought to have reflected the political realities in the Green Chamber, following the merger of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN),
Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) to form the All Progressives Congress (APC).
According to him, it is against the House rule for the APC to produce the four leadership positions zoned to the minority parties while others including those in Accord Party (AC), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and Labour Party (LP) are not being represented.
The House deputy leader from the majority Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), therefore called on the incumbent minority leaders to vacate their offices to allow proper nomination and selection of substantive minority leaders.
He cited Point of Order, under Privileges Order 19 (1) (2), Item 31, which says, “it beholds on the minority parties in line with item 31 of the House rules, to nominate from among them, new minority leader, minority whip, deputy minority leader and deputy minority whip”.
Going by the development, positions of the Minority Leader of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos), his Deputy, Abdurrahman Sulaiman Kawu (APC, Kano), Minority Whip, Samson Osagie (APC, Edo), and Deputy Minority Whip, Garba Datti Muhammad (APC, Kaduna), may be altered.
There were indications that the position of the minority leader may revert to the North because of the number of the opposition lawmakers coming from that region on the platform of the APC, while that of the position of deputy minority leader may be zoned to the South-west.
The position of the minority whip may also go to the LP, while that of its deputy could be ceded to a lawmaker on the platform of APGA. Responding, however, Rep Gbajabiamila told Ogor that he had no personal privilege that was violated by the present composition of the minority leadership.
“First of all, you have to show that your privilege, as Leo Ogor, has been breached. That is what the law says. If this privilege would have been raised by a member of minority parties, it would have been a different thing.
“The rules say the minority shall nominate and select their leaders, and that is exactly what we did. It did not say the minority shall nominate from each minority party”, he said.
Kawu, Gbajabiamila’s deputy, also said Ogor had no right to interfere in the affairs of the minority leadership, adding that the rules did not recognise him as House Leader but a PDP leader in the House.
But Rep Uche Lilian Ekwunife (APGA, Anambra) commended Ogor for raising the issue, saying “my party, APGA, is a strong party in the House. But all the opposition parties in this House have not met to decide their leadership. There is no way one political party will nominate all the leadership positions”.
Similarly, Debo Ologunagba of LP also commended the House deputy leader for raising the observation, which the former described as “timely”.
He said the privilege raised by Ogor represented a collective right of the House, not his own individual privilege, and was in order, irrespective of the party affiliation of the member who brought the matter up.
An Accord Party member in the House, Rep Abiola Ajaja (Oyo), equally told the House that “the minority leadership has not been recognizing us as members of minority. The rule says all parties must share in the leadership positions of the minority”.
The presiding Deputy Speaker of the House, Rep Emeka Ihedioha, mandated the Rules and Business as well as Justice committees to look into the matter and come up with recommendations to the House within two weeks.