There has been no love lost between the group loyal to Kingsley Chinda, the lawmaker supported by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leadership to emerge as the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, and the group loyal to the man who eventually clinched the office, Ndudi Elumelu, since the election of the leadership of the House. In separate interviews, Chinda, who now claims to be the leader of the PDP in the House, and Hon. Adekoya Adesegun Abdel-Majid, the Deputy Minority Whip, speak on the issues in contention. Chinda speaks first.
By Tordue Salem
The Minority Caucus appears to be in disarray?
There is no friction; it depends on the way you look at it. The issue of Minority Caucus, our party (PDP) said they will look into it and that we should leave things the way they are for now, and we have obeyed the party. The party also said I should speak on behalf of the party in the House until all the issues are resolved, and that is exactly what I am doing. It is not strange, it is not new. In every parliament, you have political party caucuses, outside the leadership of the House which is made up of the presiding officers and the Minority Leader. That has nothing to do with party caucus. The House and the leadership recognize the Elumelu group as the Minority Caucus, but the political parties that make up the Minority Caucus also have caucuses, namely the PDP Caucus, the APGA Caucus and the Accord Caucus, so what is the problem? What I expect is that they should be bold enough to call a meeting of all the caucuses? We need to discuss. There may be areas of interest within each party caucus which the Minority Caucus cannot champion. I will give you an example. We have election in Kogi; PDP has candidate, APGA has candidate, Accord has candidate, and all of them are part of the Minority Caucus, and we are organising within each party to see how our different candidates can win. Can we do that under the Minority Caucus? There are interests that are collective; there are interests that are peculiar to parties. PDP Caucus is different from the Minority Caucus in the House. It has always existed, it is not starting now.
But in the 6th and 7TH Assemblies, the Minority Leader was the one coordinating members of his party. Why should it be different now?
In the 7th House, Leo (Okuweh Ogor) was the Minority Leader but Hon. T.J. Yusuf was the one coordinating the PDP Caucus. Anytime we had a meeting and a Minority Leader attended, we will accord Yusuf the respect he deserved.
But shouldn’t you give the Minority Leader the honour of formally notifying him of your meetings and plans?
The notices of our meetings are always on the PDP platform. We always give notice of our meetings.
But it appears you are working at cross purposes with the Leader of the Minority.
That’s a matter of perception. And that is part of the problem, and that is why I keep saying that this issue of public governance is not for mediocre; it is for serious-minded and mature people. It is for people who are dispassionate. Give me one instance where we issued a statement that was at variance with the position of the Minority Caucus?
There was a time you opposed the presentation of the 2020 Budget, and the Minority Leader didn’t.
I didn’t oppose it either; and there is also a statement we issued on the removal of the Deputy Governor of Kogi State, and he also issued a statement agreeing with us. So there is no division. Our position was the same. The two caucuses should complement each other. There shouldn’t be any fear from either side.
So are you insinuating that there may be some fear from the other side?
I have said that the end game is to look for a way to suspend us from parliament, and, let me say it clearly, the APC is not comfortable with the opposition, so they are ready to snuff life of anyone who tries to oppose them. And it is either they use members of the PDP or members of other political parties to kill the opposition because they are performing very poorly. And what you are seeing is the hand of Esau but the voice of Jacob.
Seems it you are not very regular at sittings. Is this related to the challenges we are discussing?
No. I am carrying out other assignments, but very soon I will be back in Abuja. It is not a private matter. It is a party issue. Hon. Chinda is just leading the party caucus. It is for the party to decide the direction we should take, and, once that is done, we will abide by whatever the party wants in the collective interest of the membership.