By Mumini Abdulkareem
Principal Officers of the senate who are members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were at the Abuja residence of former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday where they reportedly met behind closed-door.
The team, led by Senator Enyinaya Abaribe, the Minority Leader also had Senator Phillip Aduda, the Minority Whip, Senator Yau’ Sahabi, the Deputy Minority Whip, and Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, Deputy Minority Leader in attendance.
The former Kwara State governor apart from being named the PDP National Leader sequel to his return to the party last year also later served as the Director-General of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council.
Details of the meeting were still sketchy last night but it is believed that it may not be unconnected with the development in the party on the issue on selection of its principal officers at the National Assembly as the largest opposition party.
The party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) has set up a five-member committee, including three former senate presidents, to intervene in the dispute over the emergence of Ndudi Elumelu as the minority leader of the House of Representatives.
The chairman of the BoT, Walid Jibrin, announced the decision in Abuja on Tuesday after the board’s meeting at the party’s national headquarters.
Jubrin said that the committee, to be chaired by a former President of the Senate, Iyorchia Ayu, has seven days to submit its report,
“We have decided to wade into the fracas in the House of Representatives as regards the minority leadership. To that effect, a committee has been formed under the chairmanship of Ayu,
“Other members of the committee include Sen. David Mark, Sen. Ibrahim Mantu, Sen. Adolphus Wabara and Hon. Austin Opara as Secretary of the Committee. They have been given a week to submit their report to the BoT and National Working Committee (NWC). Thereafter, a decision would be taken”.
Messrs Mark and Wabara are also former senate presidents while Mr Mantu is a former Deputy Senate President. Mr Opara is a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Jubrin said that the BoT, as the conscience of the party, would always work with the NWC to avoid any form of conflict within the party.
He said the board passed a vote of confidence on the judiciary and expressed the hope that court decisions would deepen democracy in the country.
“We agreed again that our party will play the role of opposition. We are in support of the process going on at the Supreme Court and thirdly we congratulate the judiciary for a job well done.
“We are very encouraged with the judges and if they continue, our democracy in Nigeria will be better.”
He called on members of the party to remain law-abiding and work with the party’s leadership.
“So I call on all our members to be law abiding and to ensure that our party keeps moving and to play the role of opposition.
“We have to be very careful and obey the party because the party is supreme. We congratulate the new leadership of the Senate for coming out with the leaders and the minority leaders.
“I assure you that the issue of the House of Representatives will soon be solved by the party. We must ensure that we do not break this party. The party will continue and nobody will make any attempt to do away with our party.”
The party on Friday suspended Mr Elumelu and six other members of the House of Representatives for one month over their alleged involvement in the crisis.
Other lawmakers suspended members are Wole Oke, Lynda Ikpeazu, Anayo Edwin, Gideon Gwadi, Toby Okechukwu and Adekoya Abdul-Majid.
The PDP had nominated Kingsley Chinda as the Minority Leader in the House of Representatives.
The opposition party also nominated Chukwuka Onyema as Deputy Minority Leader, Yakubu Barde as Minority Whip and Muraina Ajibola as Deputy Minority Whip.
The House Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, however, announced Mr Elumelu as the minority leader. Mr Elumelu from Delta State was named alongside Toby Okechukwu as Deputy Minority Leader, Gideon Gwani as Minority Whip and Adesegun Adekoya as Deputy Minority Whip.
Although the PDP is by far the largest opposition party in the House, other minority parties also have representation. Mr Gbajabiamila of the ruling APC said he acted based on a letter from minority lawmakers that they had elected Mr Elumelu and the others as their leaders.