House of Rep leadership: Elumelu, Chinda battle for Minority leader’s position

By Ovasa Ogaga,

The leadership of the main opposition party in the National Assembly, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, may be sharply divided on its choice of who becomes the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives may as the jostle for leadership positions might have pitched some PDP lawmakers who have accused the National Chairman of the party, Chief Uche Secondus, for allegedly imposing unpopular candidate on them.

Advocate gathered the two major contenders are Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, representing Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency in Delta state and Hon. Kingsley Chinda, who represents Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency, Rivers sate, have divided members of the National Working Committee and enlarged PDP Caucus over who should be given the nod for the plum position.

Hon Elumelu, who had earlier been adopted by the Delta PDP Caucus in the House, ahead of Hon. Ossai Ossai, was presented by majority of the PDP House caucus to the larger caucus of the Party as their preferred candidate to occupy the position of Minority Leader in the lower chamber of the National Assembly.

His nomination and adoption, according to inside sources, was predicated on his ranking status and very robust legislative experience, garnered from two previous terms in the 6th and 7th Assemblies consecutively, where he headed the powerful House Committees on Health and Power, in successive terms and was well integrated as a key and trusted team player, whose contributions to the legislative agenda greatly helped to sustain and consolidate the independence and constitutional authority of the collective National Assembly.

The Delta Reps member, beloved by many colleagues for what they describe as his patriotic bipartisanship stance, especially in consideration of matters of national interest, is also said to enjoy the goodwill of both his PDP party members and those of the ruling opposition APC, who see him not only as a bridge builder across party lines, but also as a seasoned legislator who wealth of experience will impact positively on the House by guiding new members in House conducts and adding his considerable influence to those of the older members, in steering the affairs of the House and maintaining the balance between party and policy as the 9th National Assembly unfolds.

Elumelu’s nomination, which at first seemed unanimous, was however countered by the surprise challenge from Hon. Kingsley Chinda, who represents Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency, Rivers sate, in the House and whose nomination, according to reliable inside sources from within the PDP Assembly caucus, was orchestrated by the National chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus.

The sources further claim that while members at the enlarged PDP caucus meeting had anticipated a consensus in favour of Elumelu for the House of Reps Minority leader position, the PDP national chairman had however arranged some members to nominate his kinsman, in what insiders claim was part of a clandestine plot to strengthen the strangle hold of Rivers state in the control of the PDP, as Hon. Chinda is also the member representing Governor Nyesom Wike’s home constituency of Obio/ Akpor, in the Lower Chamber.

Feelers from the enlarged PDP caucus meeting revealed that the nomination of Hon. Chinda threw the gathering into a stalemate as members of the House caucus notably Hon. Oluwole Oke, representing Obokon/Oriade Federal Constituency in Osun State, Hon. Patrick Asadu, representing Nsukka/Igbo-Eze South Federal Constituency in Enugu State and Hon Beni Lar, representing Langtang South/Langtang North Federal Constituency of Plateau State, called for an election since two candidates had now emerged.

They were however overruled by the National Chairman, who informed the meeting that the National Working Committee of the party would look into the matter, with a view to making what he described as the best choice for the party amongst the two;  a suggestion which was decried as anti-parliamentarian and raised suspicions over what they see as an attempt by the PDP chairman Prince Secondus to influence the NWC as its head, over the nomination and imposition of his kinsman, Hon Kingsley Chinda as minority leader of the House of Reps.

Inside sources equally hint that the stalemate in the PDP over nominations for principal offices in the House may have taken a further dimension with most members kicking strongly against the nomination of members from both Nasarawa and Rivers states, with the argument that the PDP BOT chairman and Second Republic Senator Walid Jibrin, who has been on the seat since 2013, comes from Nasarawa, while National Chairman, Uche Secondus, who emerged after the PDP Port Harcourt convention in 2017, largely influenced and muscled with some strong arm tactics by Governor Wike, after he had served as acting chairman of the PDP National Working Committee from 2015 to 2016, comes from Rivers state too.

As it stands now, the PDP appears to be in a fix in selecting who should be their Minority leader in the Federal House of  Representatives, as the battle for the position, which has been conventionally zoned to the South-South, since that of the Senate has gone to the South East, is finely poised between Hon Ndudi  Elumelu of Delta State, who has already been adopted by the Delta PDP Caucus and is said to enjoy the goodwill of majority of the House members across party lines, and Hon Kingsley Chinda, whose nomination as arranged by the PDP National Chairman, has not gone down well with many House members and indeed a section of the PDP governors forum, on the grounds that not only is it seen as an attempt to impose a candidate on the House and meddle with the independence of members to chose a candidate of their choice for the minority leader position, but also another covert ploy by the PDP national chairman, who many have accused of trying to foist the decisions of Rivers PDP on the party.

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