An alleged move by the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to satisfy some influential party chieftains in its handling of the crisis over the emergence of Ndudi Elumelu as the Minority Leader in the House of Representatives has sparked a fresh crisis in the opposition party.
Several stakeholders, including Elumelu who was suspended by the party over the issue, are insisting that the party hierarchy should leave Reps from the party alone to decide who leads them.
Reliable sources at the PDP national secretariat said that some prominent chieftains of the party, including serving governors, senators, members of the Board of Trustees as well as former presidential aspirants, are objecting to alleged move by the Prince Uche Secondus-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the party to act contrary to earlier decisions of the party organs in its handling of the disagreements arising from the emergence of Elumelu and others as Minority principal officers in the House of Representatives.
These are: Wole Oke, Lynda Ikpeazu, Anayo Edwin, Gideon Gwadi, Toby Okechukwu and Adekoya Abdul-Majid.
Kingsley Chinda who was the official candidate of the PDP for the Minority leader position was rejected by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, who said he was acting on a letter from the minority parties in the House, including the PDP.
Both Elumelu and Chinda are PDP members. Last July, the PDP BoT and NWC had constituted a committee to wade into the crisis in the interest of the party. Members of the committee included a former Senate President, Iyorchia Ayu; a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Austin Opara; a former Senate President, David Mark; a former Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu, and a former Senate President, Chief Adolphus Wabara. After months of delay and disagreement among its members, the committee submitted a report on the issue to Secondus last September.
Party sources claimed that the report exonerated Elumelu and his supporters from any anti-party activities as regards their emergence as principal officers of the lower chamber.
A source said: “The committee also urged the party to accept and work with Elumelu and other minority leadership officers of the House in its own interest. The BoT and the NWC discussed the report and resolved to abide by it.
“That is why you can see that until now, the matter was rested and the PDP caucus in the House was encouraged to work with Elumelu and his team. Chinda was also advised to let sleeping dogs lie.”
But on Friday, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, issued a statement saying the party’s caucus in the House of Representatives is under the leadership of Chinda. He also said that the suspension of Elumelu and some of its lawmakers in the House of Representatives subsists.
The Minority Caucus in the House of Reps comprising nine parties responded to the PDP statement yesterday and lampooned the party for resorting to undemocratic method in handling issues concerning the leadership of the caucus.
It asked the party to weigh its action and not allow individuals with personal interest derail the PDP.
Special Assistant on Legal Matters, Oyorima Idahosa who signed the statement said the PDP has no power whatsoever to foist anybody on the minority caucus as leaders as doing so will run counter to the 1999 Constitution, the House standing rules and parliamentary procedures.
The PDP, he said, must be democratic as its name implies.
He reminded the party that when, in 2015, the APC kicked against the announcement of Senator Ali Ndume as Senate Leader instead of its choice of Senator Ahmed Lawan, the PDP under Prince Uche Secondus as then acting chairman accused the APC of meddlesomeness.
He expressed surprise that the same party under the same chairman is now trying to impose leaders. He also reminded the party the Elumelu was duly elected through a democratic process by members of the minority parties in accordance to the laws of the land.