PDP is at it again. The main opposition party has not truly rebranded as it has been pontificating. Impunity is yet to exit the gate of Wadata Plaza. The hangover of power intoxication can still be felt in the leadership of the party.
I thought that the PDP as a party that suddenly found itself in opposition, albeit unprepared, should have quickly put its house in order to increase its chances of regaining power at the center, but I was disappointed.
The unfolding events at the House of Representatives as regards minority leadership positions flabbergasted me. There was commotion in the Green Chamber when Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila reeled out names of honorable members to occupy various minority positions in the leadership of the lower chamber.
Hon. Ndidi Elumelu emerged as Minority Leader; Hon. Toby Okechukwu named Deputy Minority Leader; Hon. Gideon Gwani as Minority Whip, while Hon. Adesegun Adekoya took the seat of Deputy Minority Whip. Announcement of these names met stiff opposition from another faction of lawmakers led by Hon. Kingsley Chinda hitherto “endorsed” by the party leadership. The brouhaha forced the Speaker to abruptly adjourn sitting to the next legislative day.
Diagnosis of the Crisis
The leadership of the PDP led by Uche Secondus endorsed the following Honorable Members to occupy corresponding minority positions in the 9th House of Representatives: Kingsley Chinda for Minority Leader, Chukwuka Onyema for Deputy Minority Leader, Yakubu Barde for Minority Whip and Muraina Ajibola as Deputy Minority Whip.
Without prejudice to these lawmakers, they are eminently qualified to fill the minority positions. At least, amongst the four names recommended by the PDP, I can testify that the duo of Hon. Kingsley Chinda and Hon. Chukwuka Onyema have been vocal voices of opposition right from the 8th National Assembly. They have all the pedigrees and criterions to be opposition leaders in the House likewise the duo of Ndidi Elumelu and Tobe Okechukwu, respectively.
The crisis erupted as a result of parochial and incompetent leadership shown in this regard by the National Chairman, Hon. Uche Secondus and few selfish leaders of the party in handling the matter. Reason was not allowed to prevail by the party. Senate minority leadership positions were controversial because justice was not only done—but seen to have been done. Senators Enyinnaya Abareibe, Philip Aduda and other PDP senators emerged without needless controversy.
Apolitical Nigerians hailed their emergence, going by their antecedents in the Red Chamber. In the case of House of Representatives, it was an entirely different scenario all together. The leadership of the party had vested interests in who got what, which made them sideline strategic stakeholders, including some of the opposition lawmakers in arriving at the choice of honourable members recommended to the Speaker.
National Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus is from Rivers State of South-South geo-political zone. Hon. Kingsley Chinda is also from Rivers State. In the scale of one to ten, National Chairmanship of the PDP and Minority Leader of the House of Representatives occupies number one (1) and three (3) respectively, in the hierarchy of statutory positions reserved for the party. Presently, the PDP controls sixteen (16) states of the federation.
Where lies justice and fairness in Rivers State producing both the National Chairman and Minority Leader of the House? Yes, Rivers has been instrumental in the survival of the PDP as opposition, especially since it left Aso Rock Villa. But that is not the only PDP State in the country. Other states have played strategic roles as well in strengthening the party. If the position should go to Rivers State, it should be by overriding consensus heralded by extensive wide-range consultations among all the stakeholders.
Even if the party leadership decided to take the slot to another state of South-South because Hon. Leo Ogor—the immediate past minority leader, is from Delta State like Hon. Ndidi Elumelu, it should not be Rivers State for crying out loud. There are other PDP states in the Niger Delta. A national party like the PDP should not be micro-zoned into a “Rivers party” under the strong grip of Governor Nyesom Wike and Uche Secondus, where other critical stakeholders will be reduced to inconsequential observers.
If I were a PDP House of Representatives Member, I would have joined the Hon. Elumelu group in revolting against this crass imposition by the party leadership. PDP is repeating exact blunders the APC committed in 2015. As a PDP sympathizer who has vehemently criticized Adams Oshiomhole and the APC for trying to impose leadership on National Assembly, it will amount to blind loyalty and insufferable hypocrisy on my part, if I fail to call out the party on this latest leadership failure.
If the leadership of the PDP does not rescind its fierce rejection of the emergence of Hon. Ndidi Elumelu and his PDP colleagues as regards the minority positions, and accept them as leaders of the party in the lower chamber, the party will be weakening itself in the Green Chamber—especially now formidable opposition is highly needed to checkmate excesses of the ruling APC. PDP cannot be condemning anti-democratic actions of President Muhammadu Buhari while breeding small tyrants at the Wadata Plaza. The party cannot afford another internal crisis.