Speaker announces House Minority Leader, others, PDP alleges imposition

Femi Gbajabiamila, the speaker of the House of Representatives on Wednesday announced principal officers of the green chamber.

In it Kingsley China emerged Minority Leader of the lower chamber against the wish of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which notified Mr Gbajabiamila in writing that they prefer Ndudi Elumelu, to man the position.

Although messrs Chinda and Elumelu are members of the PDP, the opposition party expressed dismay alleging the Speaker attempted to smuggle in names other than those recognized and forwarded to him as the leaders of the Minority in the lower chamber.

“The PDP, in the strongest terms, cautions against this abuse of rules, parliamentary practices and procedures as well as the convention and we urge the Speaker to respect the rules and read the list submitted to him by the leadership of the PDP,” Kola Ologbondiyan, the spokesman of the opposition party said in a statement on Wednesday.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the list forwarded to the Speaker by the PDP is as follows: Hon. Kingsley Chinda – Minority Leader, Hon. Chukwuka Onyema- Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Yakubu Barde – Minority Whip, Hon. Muraina Ajibola – Deputy Minority Whip.”

Plenary at the House of Representatives turned rowdy on Wednesday after Mr Gbajabiamila, read a letter from some members of the minority political parties in the chamber on the list of nominated principal officers.

The chaos began at about 2pm when the Speaker announced that he had received a letter from the minority members containing the names of principal officers.

A member of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr Kingsley Chinda, however, interrupted Gbajabiamila who was reading the letter said to have been signed by 99 of the 146 members of the various minority parties in the house.

Mr Chinda cited Order 6 Rule 1 of the House Standing Orders, stating that members of minority party in the chamber shall choose from among themselves someone with experience to lead them.

He argued that where the house rule was not clear on the procedure, the lawmakers should follow precedence or a resolution of the house.

Chinda noted that the PDP being the majority opposition party had written to the Speaker and had nominated him (Chinda) to be the minority leader. He added that the party had also nominated Chukwuka Onyema as Deputy minority leader, Yakubu Barde as minority Whip, and Muraina Ajibola as Deputy minority Whip.

He urged the Speaker to follow the precedence of the chamber by adopting the list of lawmakers sent by the party.

Gbajabiamila, however, ruled Chinda out of order, arguing that there were nine minority political parties and that the PDP alone could not determine who to lead them.

As the Speaker continued reading the controversial letter, several lawmakers protested and went for the mace.

The Sergeants-at-Arms close to the mace also rushed forward to retrieve it from the protesters. Several lawmakers and security men formed a shield around the chamber’s symbol of authority.

The situation, however, did not deter the Speaker, who went on to read out the letter announcing Mr Elumelu as minority leader; Toby Okechukwu as Deputy minority leader; Gideon Gwani as minority Whip; and Adesegun Adekoya as Deputy minority Whip.

In the midst of the tension, Gbajabiamila adjourned plenary till Thursday.