The power play within the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) which has extended to the House of Representatives is threatening the party’s unity and ability to keep the ruling APC in check.
The intrigues are especially sequel to Ndudi Elumelu’s emergence as the Minority Leader of the 9th Assembly.
Like the emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki as Senate president and Yakubu Dogara as Speaker, House of Representatives in 2015, the emergence of Elumelu as the House Minority Leader was seen as an affront to the PDP leadership.
Like the APC in 2015, the PDP rejected Elumelu as it prefered another candidate for the position. After his emergence, Elumelu and other PDP lawmakers were suspended by the party for going against its directive on voting.
The power tussle among PDP members in the House of Representatives is believed by many to be a carryover of the feud between the Governor Nyesom Wike group that supported Sokoto State Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and the others that supported former vice president Atiku Abubakar during the party’s convention in 2018.
Elumelu was, on the other hand, said to be an Atiku’s unrepentant loyalist who supported him to the end. Wike and his like minds in the party were said to be the powers behind the opposition to Elumelu’s election as the Minority Leader and were supporting the Kingsley Ogundu Chinda-led group.
The Rivers State governor has never hidden his opposition to Atiku’s emergence as the PDP presidential candidate for the 2019 election because he felt betrayed as Tambuwal lost the ticket.
Pundits say what gave strength to the speculation was that Chinda, a member from Rivers State, was seen as Wike’s man who is doing his bidding by creating a dissenting voice within the PDP in the House.
The two groups recently issued two separate statements on the impeachment of the former Kogi State deputy governor, which exposed the division among the PDP ranks in the House. The first statement issued by the “caucus” on Monday jointly signed by its leader, O.K Chinda, deputy leader, Chukwuka Onyema, Whip, Umar Barde and deputy whip, Ajibola Muraino , noted that Nigerians must condemn the purported impeachment carried out by members of the Kogi State House of Assembly in concert with the state government.
It stated that the purported impeachment of Mr. Simon Achuba was, to say the least, offensive, grotesque and embarrassing as the entire process was a hoax. Ndudi Elumelu in a statement on behalf of the “caucus” also condemned Achuba’s impeachment and his replacement with Edward Onoja, describing the action as “overt lawlessness unknown to the laws of the land.”
It warned that the people of Kogi should brace up to a “more oppressive and rapacious mode of governance if Governor Bello and the APC were allowed to force a minority government on the people once again.” The statement said; “Our understanding of that government in Lugard House is that of one given to an unabashed, unrepentant, and a rapacious breach of the people’s will. The so-called removal of the deputy governor is the height of unhinged travesty. It is impunity taken too far.
It is neither known to the law, nor the Constitution of Nigeria and cannot be allowed to stand. “By the purported removal of the deputy governor despite a ‘not guilty’ verdict returned by the impeachment panel, it is self-evident that these people are no respecters of the law. The travesty is of no consequence for it imposes a defacto and not a dejure deputy on the people of Kogi State and can only be short-lived.
“The good news is that the blundering government will soon have its day in the court of public opinion on November 16 and we trust the people of Kogi to pass an overwhelming vote of no confidence on the government and remove the incompetent and overbearing minority contraption from their Government House.
“For emphasis, we are by this statement placing a caveat emptor on both the Certificate of Occupancy and occupant of Lugard House.
The people of Kogi should beware, for if the governor could unleash this magnitude of abuse of power, hunger, and impunity in his first term, knowing he would face the people at the polls, how much more high-handed and vicious would he get in his second term?”
The caucus, therefore, called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) to stop the reckless abuse of power in the state as democracy can only survive by the sanctity of the rule of law.
So, the claims and counter-claims by the two groups is another pointer to the division among the PDP in the House of Representatives to which the party has allegedly turned a blind eye. Although there were denials about having a faction, everything has indicated otherwise as the groups go in separate directions.
What is, however, believed by many observers is that while the leadership of the House of Representatives recognises the Ndudi Elumelu as the Minority Leader, other forces within the PDP are supporting another group to claim the position through the backdoor.