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Dialogue as antidote to House minority leadership crisis



By Orkula Shaagee, Abuja

For the first time since Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999, the House of Representatives was engulfed in crisis over the leadership of the minority parties in the lower chamber of the nation’s National Assembly.

Though it is common sight to see lawmakers engage in mace snatching and open fight right in the hallowed chamber over political differences, it was the first time in the history of the third arm of government to witness lawmakers engage in open confrontation over the election of minority principal officers in the green chamber.

Penultimate Wednesday, the House of Representatives was thrown into crisis that led to attempt by some aggrieved members to snatch the mace.

The action followed the alleged rejection of a letter by House Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila from by the leadership of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) nominating Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers State) as the Minority Leader, Chukwuma Onyema from Anambra as Deputy Minority Leader, Yakubu Barde from Kaduna State as Minority Whip and Muriano Ajibola from Oyo State as Deputy Minority Whip.

Gbajabiamila however read a letter he said was sent to him by minority parties in the House signed by 99 out of the 147 members nominating Ndudi Elumelu from Delta State as Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu from Enugu State as Deputy Minority Leader, Gideon Gwani as Minority Whip and Adesegun Adekoya as Deputy Minority Whip.

Despite intense protests from the opposition lawmakers, citing the various House rules to support their position, Gbajabiamila ruled them out and thereafter declared Elumelu and the others in his group as the House’s minority leaders.

Leading the protest, Chinda said the nomination of Elumelu and his gang as House minority leaders would not stand. He said series of inter-party meetings were held among the oppositio9n parties where all the issues of nomination were ratified.

“The issue is that of Minority leadership. It is the standard practice in parliament that minority leadership comes from among minority parties and the correspondence is always sent by the major minority party, in our case that was followed,” he said.

Reacting, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila sets up a committee to probe attempt at mace snatching.

At the resumption of plenary the following day, Chinda and his colleagues took over the designated seats for the minority officers, and this delayed the commencement of plenary traditionally billed for 11 in the morning.  Gbajabiamila’s procession, including his deputy, Idris Wase, and other minority officers, led by Elumelu, did not enter the chambers until 12:10.

The Peoples Democratic Party also condemned the action, saying, “Gbajabiamila exhibited personal hostility, with threats that Chinda would ‘regret’ taking his rightful seat as the bona fide Leader of the Minority in the House.

“This vicious outburst by Gbajabiamila is a direct threat and affront to our democratic order. The rights of the minority members in the House of Representatives, the people of Obio/Akpo Federal

“The PDP, in the strongest terms, condemns this outburst and demands the Speaker retract his inciting threats against Chinda within the next 24 hours,” its Spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan said.

He also called on Nigerians to hold Gbajabiamila directly responsible should any harm suddenly come upon Chinda, any member of his family or any member of the PDP in the House of Representatives.

Ologbondiyan said, “The PDP also invites the police and the Department of State Services to summon Gbajabiamila to explain the intents of his threats.”

He stated that the PDP remained committed to rules and the sanctity of the parliament.

Consequently, the Peoples Democratic Party later suspended Ndudi Elumelu and six other members of the party in the House of Representatives for “indiscipline, insubordination and disobedience”.

The representative of  Oriade/Obokun Federal Constituency, Osun State,  Wole Oke;  representative of  Onitsha North and Onitsha South Federal Constituency, Anambra State, Lynda Ikpeazu; representative of  Ezza North/Ishielu Federal Constituency,  Ebonyi State, Anayo Edwin; representative of Kaura Federal Constituency, Kaduna State, Gideon Gwani; representative of  Aninri/Awgu/Oji River Federal Constituency, Enugu State, Toby Okechukwu; and representative of   Ijebu-North/Ijebu-East/Ogun Waterside Federal Constituency, Adekoya Abdul-Majid, were  the six other members of the party suspended.

The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, told reporters at a press conference in Abuja that the suspension was the outcome of the meeting of the PDP National Working Committee over the crisis that resulted from the struggle for the House of Representatives Minority Leader.

Ologbondiyan, who read the resolution of the NWC, said the committee reviewed the issues affecting the minority leadership of the House of Representatives.

He said the party noted the roles played by the affected Reps which resulted in the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, announcing the list of the  minority leadership of the House  different from the one submitted by the opposition party.

He said, “After the  preliminary examination by the NWC, it was evident that the roles played by the above mentioned members, bordered on indiscipline, insubordination and disobedience, contrary to Section 58 (1)(b)(c)(f)(h) of the PDP Constitution (as amended in 2017).”

The Peoples Democratic Party also criticized the Speaker, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, for allegedly threatening the representative of Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency in the House, Mr Kingsley Chinda.

The main opposition party asked the police and Department of State Services to summon the Speaker to explain himself.

The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement on Friday   said Gbajabiamila had no justification to allegedly threaten   the factional Minority Leader of the House after overruling him when he wanted to raise a point of order during Thursday’s plenary.

Gbajabiamila had blocked moves by some Peoples Democratic Party members, including Chinda, to raise issues relating to the parallel principal officers produced by the minority parties on Wednesday.

Ndudi Elumelu and Chinda had emerged as factional Minority Leaders, with the House recognizing the former.

Still not backing down on its stand to have Chinda and other nominees from the PDP to assume offices as House minority leaders, the Board of Trustees (BoT) of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) set up a five-member committee to intervene in the dispute over the emergence of Rep. Ndudi Elumelu as the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives.

The Chairman of the BoT, Mr Walid Jibrin, announced the decision in Abuja after the board’s meeting at the party’s national headquarters.

Jibrin said that the committee, to be chaired by a former President of the Senate, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, had seven days to submit its report,

“We have decided to wade into the fracas in the House of Representatives as regards the minority leadership.

“To that effect, a committee has been formed under the chairmanship of Ayu. Other members of the committee include Sen. David Mark, Sen. Ibrahim Mantu, Sen. Adolphus Wabara and Hon. Austin Opara as Secretary of the Committee.

“They have been given a week to submit their report to the BoT and National Working Committee (NWC) thereafter, a decision would be taken”.

Jibrin said that the BoT as the conscience of the party would always work with the NWC to avoid any form of conflict within the party.

He said the board passed a vote of confidence on the judiciary and expressed the hope that court decisions would deepen democracy in the country.

“We agreed again that our party will play the role of opposition. We are in support of the process going on at the Supreme Court and thirdly we congratulate the judiciary for a job well done.

“We are very encouraged with the judges and if they continue, our democracy in Nigeria will be better.”

As the logjam persists despite prolong protests, media war and threats, we advise the nominees and the opposition political parties in the House to explore the option of engaging the Femi Gbajabiamila led leadership in the House to a dialogue to find the way forward and a lasting solution to the wrangling.

We are aware that being the first time since 1999 that the PDP is taking the position of the opposition party in the House leadership, it will be a bitter pill for the party to swallow the garbage being thrown at them by the APC-led leadership.


SDP urges President Tinubu, IG to call Kogi CP to order




The Social Democratic Party (SDP) on Tuesday urged President Bola Tinubu and the Inspector General of Police (IG) to call the Kogi Commissioner of police (CP) to order over his attitude towards its governorship candidate.

The Chairman, SDP Campaign Council, Kogi East, Mr Hassan Yakubu, made the call during a press conference in Lokoja.

Yakubu said recent remarks by the CP, Onuoha Bethrand, were incriminating against the party and its governorship candidate, Alhaji Muritala Ajaka.

He said the situation became more worrisome when the CP claimed that SDP’s rally of Sept.

29 was without police permission, and that Ajaka had refused to honour invitations for discussion and was causing crises in the state.

“As a party, we are neither comfortable nor happy with such a blanket statement of lies and indictment coming from an institution that is supposed to be neutral.

“But what the public should know is that we had police and DSS approvals for the rally at Koton Karfe, where opposition party’s thugs attacked us and ended up killing one of their own.

“There are videos on how thugs invaded our campaign venue, destroyed chairs and canopies even at the palace of the traditional ruler our candidate visited.

“But for the state commissioner of police to turn round and accuse our party with emphasis on our candidate is uncalled for.

“We are calling on the president and the IG to call the CP to order because we are no longer safe with his attitude towards us,” he said.

According to the campaign council chairman, the party has always been on the defensive side following series of attacks unleashed on its supporters even when “we operate by the rules and Electoral Act.”

He said the police must change its attitude towards SDP to enable it participate fully in the Nov. 11 governorship election and emerge victorious considering the pedigree of its candidate.

Yakubu argued that the party was sure of victory at governorship election and described the followership of Ajaka as massive across the state. 

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the CP through the Command’s Public Relation Officer, SP Williams Ovye-Aya, had issued a press statement on Sunday accusing SDP and its candidate of some infractions in the state.

“For the record, several invitations extended to the SDP and ADC Candidates for interaction and consultation with the Police to shed light, provide explanations and give their own side of the story on Petitions written against them were to no avail.

“His (SDP Candidate’s) refusal to deal with the police is undermining peace in the state, has been impeding efforts to stream-line and regulate political activities.

“It has in turn, greatly contributed to the pockets of political violence being witnessed in the State presently. His riding rough-shod and engaging in political brinkmanship and brigandage is an ill-wind that blows no one any good,” said the CP. 

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Edo Deputy Gov Shaibu Dedicates New Office Ahead Of Resumption




Comrade Philip Shaibu, the deputy governor of Edo state dedicated his new office on Tuesday, October 3, ahead of his resumption.

A video shared online showed over 10 priests praying, blessing and spraying holy water inside and outside the premises as other voices can be heard singing hymns and other songs.

Recall that Shaibu’s office was relocated from the state government house after he fell out with his principal, Godwin Obaseki.

The politicians fell out after Shuaibu declared his intention to seek election as governor of the state after Obaseki completes his tenure.

This caused a rift between them as Obaseki did not hide his disapproval. He took several steps including relocating Shaibu’s office out of the state government house.

They have however settled their differences after Shaibu tendered a public apology to Obaseki.

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You Didn’t Submit Your UNN Certificate To INEC – Omokri Tells Peter Obi




Former Presidential aide, Reno Omokri, has taken a swipe at Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of Labour Party, LP, for questioning the legitimacy of the academic records of President Bola Tinubu.

Peter Obi had, while reacting to the university certificate issues surrounding Tinubu, said people should be honest about their qualifications, insisting that educational qualification is not even a criterion to be a good President.

He cited some American leaders who lacked good educational backgrounds.

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, obtained victory in his fierce legal battle to probe the academic qualification of Tinubu in the February 25 presidential poll.

Tinubu had supplied certificates from the Chicago State University, CSU, to INEC to secure eligibility to participate in the election.

A United States of America court on Saturday ordered CSU to release Tinubu’s academic records for verification and in support of Atiku’s petition challenging the result of the 2023 presidential poll.

Justice Nancy Maldonado, in a judgment, dismissed the objection raised by Tinubu against Atiku’s request and expressly ordered that the CSU must submit the academic records to Atiku.

And on Monday evening, the records were made available to the PDP leader, although the authenticity is still being questioned by some sections of social media users.

But Reno is calling out the Labour Party candidate for even suggesting that there could have been a fake certificate somewhere.

“Peter Obi, Chicago State University, has backed Bola Tinubu’s certificate and stands by the legitimacy of his academic credentials,
” he wrote on X.

“Only yesterday morning, you were on AriseTV accusing a certain leader of having a ‘fake certificate.’

“Now, answer this question: Why did you not tender your own degree from the University of Nigeria Nsukka to the INEC?”

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