By Levinus Nwabughiogu & Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA—Elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, yesterday, advised the leadership of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to accept in good faith the announcement of the minority leadership positions by Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
Clark gave the counsel in his Abuja residence while addressing journalists drawn from the print and electronic media.
According to him, it is the duty of members of the House to determine who leads them, and not that of a political party.
Having announced the suspension of Ndudi Elumelu (the House Minority Leader) and six others for one month by the party, the former Federal Commissioner of Information urged the leadership of PDP to let go its grievances and face its role as an opposition party.
He said: “I think democracy should be allowed to prevail in this country and institutions should be allowed to do their jobs. There is no place, even in the PDP constitution, which says they should nominate people and give to the House. There is nothing like that.
“But the National Assembly has rules and regulations. Rule 8 says that elected members of the House, whether they are majority or minority, should sit among themselves and elect their members.
‘’They didn’t say one political party should nominate people for the chairman or secretary to come and submit to National Assembly. I don’t think there is anything like that. But the party has to be in the know, I agree; we should be thinking about major things.
“I think this (minority leadership controversy) is a very minor issue. There are major issues in this country that PDP should concern itself with. I agree that everybody belongs to one party and should project individuals, perhaps having regards to Amaechi’s case in those days. That it is the party that participated in the election, not individuals.”
Blames PDP for current controversy
Taking a trip down memory lane, Clark blamed PDP for the current controversy surrounding the House minority leadership, saying a few years ago, the party established a precedent that is now returned to haunt it.
“PDP alone has established the precedent. In the 7th Assembly, PDP zoned the speakership position to the South-West. It was not zoned to South-East or North-West but members said they would regulate their own functions, that they would elect someone of their choice. Even PDP, in President Jonathan’s time, disagreed with them.
“But the same PDP said at that time that it was the same Gbajabiamila who was the minority leader that was behind PDP members in the House at that time when Tambuwal, then a member of the House from Sokoto said he would contest against a lady, Mulikat Akande, and Ihedioha was to be his deputy.
“Everyone of us went to the House, including BoT chairman, Late Chief Tony Anenih. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, was there and so many PDP members were there and election was conducted among themselves.
‘’Ruga is there and there are many other things in this country that are going wrong. PDP should play the role of opposition effectively in those areas and leave this matter. It is done.”
Anxiety as Reps resume plenary tomorrow
Meanwhile, there is anxiety among members of the House of Representatives as plenary resumes tomorrow.
This is coming on the heels of the stormy session of the House last week, arising from the official announcement of principal officers for the minority parties.
It will be recalled that the speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, had last Wednesday announced Ndudi Elumelu as the Minority Leader; Toby Okechukwu, Deputy Minority Leader; Gideon Gwadi and Adekoya Abdul-Majid as Minority Whip and Deputy Whip respectively.
I’m surprised over my suspension by PDP —Elumelu
Reacting to the decision, Elumelu expressed surprised, saying the party suspended him without waiting to hear his side of the story.
He explained that he left Abuja immediately after Thursday plenary and had appealed to the party for a new date to appear before the National Working Committee, NWC as summoned.
He said: “I am surprised and shocked, that the National Working Committee of our great party, People’s Democratic Party, PDPn can sit and take a decision without giving room for fair hearing.
“I lost an aunt and left Abuja immediately after plenary in the House of Representatives on Thursday and travelled to Delta State.”