PDP AND THE HOUSE LEADERSHIP CRISIS

The main opposition political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is up in arms against seven of its members in the House of Representatives who allegedly played anti-party activities in the choice of Principal Officers of the House, and accordingly, had slammed on each of them, one month suspension.

The PDP was said to have earlier chosen Hon. Kingsley Chinda from Rivers State to be the Minority Leader of the House and asked its members to queue behind him, together with other Minority Principal Officers penciled down by the party, but when later the Speaker of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, announced names of the House leadership, he came up with a different list of Minority Principal Officers, with Hon. Ndudi Elumelu from Delta State as House Minority Leader.

This infuriated the PDP leadership, and they invited Elumelu and his group to come over for explanations. Unfortunately, none of those invited honoured the invitation, claiming to have been out of town, but requested for a new date when they would be available. But the PDP leadership did not harken to their request and proceeded to hand one month suspension on each of them. This has attracted several reactions from across the political divides.

Since the return to democratic rule in the country in 1999, the legislature has been the whipping child of the administration, due principally to long years of military rule, with the absence of the legislative institution. As a result, some powerful members of the executive branch and other organs of government have found it convenient to ride or to dominate the legislature, and consequently to impose their will on its members.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo during his time, always believed that whoever would have the privilege to preside over the legislative assembly must nilly nilly be his “house boy”, otherwise he would have that person kicked out. During his eight-year rule, Obasanjo was an imperial commander, dictating who should occupy whatever position and who should be left out.

It was Obasanjo that installed Evans Ewerem as Senate President, but when Evans’ colleagues could no longer work with him and brought in Chuba Okadigbo, Obasanjo laid “banana peels” on his path, and the man fell off. Obasanjo then brought in Anyim Pius Anyim, and after Anyim, came Adolphus Wabara, and then came Ken Nnamani, who later became Obasanjo’s albatross, as far as his third term agenda was concerned.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan was a dove who never wanted to hurt anybody nor to ruffle any feather. In 2007, his party, the PDP, had chosen some other people for the positions of Speakership and Deputy Speakership of the House of Representatives, but from nowhere, Aminu Tambuwal and Emeka Ihedioha, disguised themselves, sneaked into the legislative chambers, contested and won the Speakership and Deputy Speakership respectively of the House of Representatives. Goodluck Jonathan overwhelmed. He swallowed the bitter pill and accepted the duo.

In 2015, election of Principal Officers of the National Assembly took a dramatic turn. At that time, the All Progressives Party (APC) which had just emerged as the new ruling party, had already selected their preferred candidates for the Principal Officers of the legislature, but somewhere along the line, some APC members in the National Assembly sold out and went into alliance with the opposition PDP to produced a leadership that was totally alien to the ruling party.

The APC was disappointed. They made a lot of noise, tried very hard to reverse it, but failed. They then decided to manage the situation till the end of its first tenure.

So, for the new leadership of the PDP to now be complaining that they were shortchanged in the selection of Minority leadership of the House of Representatives and proceeded to slam one month suspension on their “erring members”, means that they have no sense of history.

The fact that external forces have been regulating the activities of the legislature and imposing leaderships its members does not mean that it is the right thing to do. It is the right and responsibility of members of the legislature to elect whoever they like that would lead them, and not for other external forces to be doing it for them.

When the APC and the Presidency were fighting hard to impose leaderships on the National Assembly, all of us, including PDP leaders, have cried foul. How come now that the same PDP has done exactly the same thing, and when it failed, decided to wield the big stick against its erring members?

Perhaps, the PDP may not be running with the hare, and hunting with the hounds. The golden rule is do unto others as you would them do unto you, and the earlier we leave the legislature to sort out its own problems, the better. That’s how to make democracy grow in the land.

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