“There are no morals in politics; there is only expedience. A scoundrel may be of use to us just because he is a scoundrel.” –Vladimir Lenin
The Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) troubleshooting over the purported suspension of the Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, Hon Ndudi Elumelu and six others, including Hon. Toby Okechukwu (deputy minority leader, PDP-Enugu); Hon. Gideon Gwani (minority whip); Hon. Adesegun Adekoya (deputy minority whip), Hon. Wole Oke (PDP, Osun) and Hon. Linda Ikpeazu (PDP, Anambra) took off, Thursday, in Abuja with a short parley between the recalcitrant lawmakers and the reconciliation committee.
The National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP in its hasty reaction to the alleged insubordination that culminated into the emergence of Hon. Elumelu as the Minority Leader had invoked the suspension order on the lawmakers to whip them to line. But the Board of Trustee (BoT) in the fear that the issue might snowball into a bigger crisis resolved to set up a reconciliation committee to work out an amicable resolution of the leadership tussle. The five-member committee chaired by former Senate President, Iyorchia Ayu, include: ex-Senate Presidents David Mark and Adolphus Wabara, a former Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu, and a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Austin Opara, who is serving as the secretary. The committee has seven days to submit its report.
From the point of view of other interested parties in the House, the crisis the PDP has walked itself into is avoidable and needless. This is because the process of appointment into the minority positions, they said, was by popular support and in conformity with the rule of the House. The spokesman of the minority parties, Hon. Legor Idagbo (PDP-Cross River), at a press conference in Abuja said that the letter sent by the PDP leadership to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, dated July 1, 2019, was belated and the decision to nominate the affected persons into minority leadership positions was collectively reached by all minority parties. He said: “Were there to be an offence committed in this process, the perpetrators should be all 111 of us who nominated our colleagues to serve in that leadership position, not seven members as were suspended by our great party.”
He further argued that the nomination of the minority leaders was in conformity with Order 7 Rule 8, which derives strength from Section 60 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended. Quoting the House rule as added: “Members of the minority parties in the House shall nominate from among them, the Minority Leader, Minority Whip, Deputy Minority Leader and Deputy Minority Whip.’’
What Hon Idagbo seems to be saying is that nomination for minority leadership is not an exclusive preserve of the PDP. By proper interpretation of the rule, any interested member of the House from the minority parties could also aspire to lead and secure nomination by popular support of other colleagues. The rule of the game is lobbying and negotiation. Far ahead of the party, Elumelu knew this and had perhaps struck the deal ever before the House met to elect its leadership.
For a party that had travelled the Saraki’s path with all the attendant intrigues that characterized the emergence of the Senate leadership in the 8th Assembly, the NWC is expected to know better and perhaps exercise a bit of restraint before taking such a decision. Instead, they are now busy engaging in blame game. Already, there is an allegation from the Southwest chapter of the party that Gbajabiamila is plotting to suspend some House members who are opposed to Elumelu minority leadership position.
Rising from a recent meeting held in Ado-Ekiti, the PDP Youths Congress convener, Oluwole Durojaiye, had alleged that a meeting was held in Abuja on Friday night where it was agreed to flush out 10 PDP members who “are seen as arrowheads of the opposition against the alleged imposition and illegal appointment of minority principal officers by the Speaker.
Without pre-empting the outcome of the ongoing reconciliation committee set up by its BoT, the PDP has lost the battle. By virtue of independence of the legislature, election of principal officers is an internal affair of the House and is already a done deal. If, however, the NWC refuses to let go and reconcile with the suspended lawmakers, the possibility is high that the APC would gladly give them a fantastic embrace and welcome them into its fold. Senator Bukola Saraki did it and ultimately jumped the ship. There is nothing to suggest that Elumelu and his other co-travelers cannot do the same.
Elumelu was born on February 23, 1965. He hails from Onicha-Ukwu in the Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State. He had his education at the popular Yaba Tech (Yaba College of Technology), Yaba, Lagos where he obtained a National Diploma in Business Administration in 1989. He later bagged a Bachelor of Science (Hons.) in Accounting & Finance in 1993 before his Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA) with specialization in finance in 2001.
Since his election into the House of Representatives in 2007 to represent the Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Costituency, he has been a member of several committees including: Diaspora, Drugs, Narcotics & Financial Crimes, Interior Affairs, National Security & Intelligence, and the House Committee on Power, where he had served as Chairman.