After weeks of intrigues and speculations, eight principal officers of the 9th House of Representatives emerged yesterday.
The Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Gbajabiamila said, “In line with Order 7, Rule 4 of the House Standing Rules, and in accordance with communication from the majority party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), I wish to announce the following as principal officers of the 9th House of Representatives.”
The names announced yesterday were Alhassan Doguwa (APC, Kano), House Majority Leader; Tahir Monguno (APC, Borno), Chief Whip; Peter Akpatason (APC, Edo), Deputy Majority Leader; and Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (APC, Abia), Deputy Chief Whip.
Daily Trust reports that the speaker had on Wednesday announced Ndudi Elumelu (PDP, Delta) as Minority Leader; Toby Okechukwu as Deputy Minority Leader; Gideon Gwani (PDP, Kaduna) as Minority Whip; and Adesegun Adekola (PDP, Ogun) as Deputy Minority Whip.
Although the announcement of Elumelu and others as minority leaders sparked protest from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lawmakers loyal to a rival claimant to the position, Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers), the speaker insisted he acted in accord with the House Standing Rules.
According to him, Order 7, Rule 8 empowers lawmakers of the minority parties to “elect from among themselves” their leaders, “not from any one minority party in the House.”
Perhaps living up to his vow to upturn what he called “arbitrary decision”, the intransigent Chinda, yesterday, proceeded to take the Minority Leader’s seat in front of the chamber, contrary to Gbajabiamila’s warning that he should vacate the seat for Elumelu.
As such, the speaker ignored several points of order raised by the Rivers lawmaker, sending strong signals that any “mischievous element who tests the will of the House” must be dealt with according to the House Rules.
That followed a motion by Ben Kalu (APC, Abia) asking that some pro-Chinda lawmakers who attempted to snatch the mace the previous day should face disciplinary action in order to serve as deterrent to others.
To that effect, the speaker constituted a seven-man ad hoc Committee on Ethics and Privileges, chaired by Deputy Leader, Peter Akpatason (APC, Edo), to determine the merit or otherwise of subjecting the “erring lawmakers” to disciplinary measures.