Proceedings were almost stalled at the House of Representatives on Tuesday after a move by the majority Peoples Democratic Party to sack All Progressives Congress House leaders resulted in rowdiness.
It took the presiding Deputy Speaker, Mr. Emeka Ihedioha, a few minutes to restore order as PDP and APC lawmakers disgreed over the matter.
It was the Deputy House Majority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor, who took APC members by surprise when he raised an order of privilege to draw attention to what he considered an anomaly.
Citing relevant House rules, Ogor, a PDP member from Delta State, said the rules provided that “all minority parties” in the House should nominate candidates to occupy minority leadership positions in the House.
He recalled that before the ACN, the ANPP and the CPC merged to form the APC, they existed as independent minority parties and shared the minority leadership positions.
The minority positions are Minority Leader; Minority Whip, Deputy Minority Leader and Deputy Minority Whip.
All the positions are currently occupied by APC members.
Ogor added that, following the merger, the parties had relinquished their independence to become one political party.
He argued that, to comply with the House rules, the APC, APGA, Labour Party and Accord were now the minority parties in the House.
Ogor told the House that the minority positions should have been shared between the APC, APGA, LP and Accord, being that they are “minority parties” in keeping with the House rules.
He stated, “The APC is now a single party; one of the minority parties. They cannot continue to retain all the seats of minority parties.
“The leaders should therefore vacate their seats.
“Labour, APGA and Accord are also minority parties; we need to have nominations from them to occupy the minority leadership positions.
“It is only in this way that justice can be seen to have been done and to comply with our House rules.”
He had hardly rounded off when the Minority Leader, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, rose to reply Ogor.
Gbajabiamila, an APC member from Lagos State, queried how the internal affair of minority parties breached the privilege of Ogor, a PDP member.
“He has no locus in this matter; if the point of privilege had been raised by a member of the minority parties, it would have made sense”, he noted.
Gbajabiamila informed the House that the minority parties had long submitted the names of their nominated leaders to the House.
“Instead, it is even the PDP that has no record of their nominations.
“Our rules book does not spell it out the way Ogor has put it; that party this or party that must produce this position.
“It is not stated that way. This is a matter for minority parties”, he added.
But there was more drama when APGA, LP and Accord caucus leaders took turns to disagree with Gbajabiamila and back Ogor’s position.
APGA caucus leader, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife (Anambra State), described his party (APGA) as “a very strong party in this country.”
She observed that as one of the minority parties in the House, APGA had expected the APC to invite the members to opposition party meetings, but said this had never happened.
“We, as opposition parties, have never met to decide who will be our leaders.
“At the moment, only the APC has produced all the minority positions; it will not stand”, she said.
As she spoke, some APC members shouted her down, saying, “APGA is PDP annex, so sit down please!”
LP leader from Ondo State, Mr. Debo Ologunagba, praised Ogor for coming to the rescue of other minority parties by bringing their frustration to the fore.
“There is APC and there are other minority parties.
“We have to nominate our own leaders as well. APC cannot keep all the seats; there is no justice in doing so”, Ologunagba said.
Mrs. Bukola Ajaja, an Accord member from Oyo State, drove home the message harder, “We have a share in the leadership of the minority seats.