PDP lawmakers nominate, elect Rivers Assembly’s minority leader
• It can’t stand, APC insists
It was a mother of all intrigues yesterday as Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lawmakers yesterday nominated and elected a pliant All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Benibo Frederick Anabraba, as Minority Leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly. The legislature is currently made up of 23 PDP and seven APC members with representatives of Etche I and II still being awaited.
Traditionally, the opposition parties nominate a candidate for the post.
The drama, however, began when the only female lawmaker and representative of Port Harcourt Constituency I, Victoria Nyeche, nominated a fellow APC member, Josiah Olu (Eleme Constituency) for the position. Hastily, a PDP member, Sam Ogeh representing Emohua Constituency, rose and nominated Anabraba with swift secondment from another PDP lawmaker, Edison Ehie (Ahoada East II).
Attempts by Nyeche to stop the move using Order 10 Rule 1 of the House Rules failed as the House Leader, Matins Amaewhule, also citing same law as well as Order 5 Rule 1 and Order 6 Rule 1 said they both held that “at all times the Speaker shall interpret the Standing Order of the House,” arguing that Order 10 Rule 1 did not specify who to nominate, rather, it only states that minority and deputy minority leaders must come from the opposition party.
Also, efforts by Olu to raise further objections failed as the Speaker, Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, ruled that the said law was crystal clear and consequently put the argument to vote. Anabraba eventually polled 15 votes against the eight got by Olu.
Further calls by the speaker for the nomination of a deputy minority leader did not yield response as the APC members present staged a walk out.
Ibani, thereafter, congratulated Anabraba on his emergence, reiterating that he would continue to be fair to all parties and uphold the nation’s constitution.
In an interview with reporters later, Olu accused the speaker of imposing a leader on the opposition, saying it was the first time in history of the country’s democracy for the majority members of an Assembly to nominate and elect its minority leader.
Meanwhile, the state chapter of the APC described the incident as an aberration which would not stand.
Its Publicity Secretary, Chris Finebone, said: “It is the prerogative of the minority party (APC) to present its officers in line with parliamentary conventions. Whether the majority (PDP) members in the Assembly like it or not, it shall be addressed accordingly. I can assure you.”
Anabraba, however, pledged to exercise his functions in the overall interest of the state.