By Henry Omunu, Abuja
The tussle for the position of House minority leader among the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) House of Representatives members has heightened with no less than six aspirants are eyeing the post.
So far, House members who have indicated interest in the post and are known to be lobbying the PDP caucus are mainly from the South South and South East geo-political zones of the country with one contender emerging from the North Central.
While three aspirants, Rep. Nkem Abonta, Rep. Pat Asadu and Rep. Chukwuma Onyeama are from Abia and Enugu states respectively in the South East, Rep. Ossai Ossai, Rep. Tony Elumelu and Rep. Kingsley Chinda are from Delta and Rivers states respectively in the South South.
Rep. Tajudeen Yusuf is the only House member aspiring for the minority leader’s position from Kogi state in the North Central.
In the quest to sway members of the House PDP caucus to back their aspiration, the lawmakers are flouting their legislative credentials and ranking status as positives that should earn them the plum position.
Presently, in terms of ranking, the oldest PDP House member is Rep. Nicholas Mutu from Delta state, but sources have confirmed his lack of interest in becoming leader of the opposition caucus. He has been in the House since 1999.
However, if the post is to remain in the South South zone since the Minority Leader in the 8th House, Rep. Leo Ogor hails from Delta state, then the struggle for the position can be narrowed down to the four contenders from the zone.
Among the four aspirants from the South South, Rep. Elumelu is the most ranking member having been elected to the House in 2007 as against his two opponents, Rep. Kingsley Chinda (2011) and Rep. Ossai Ossai who was elected to the House in 2011.
PDP House members from the South South and South East zones in separate interactions explained that the issue at stake is not necessarily who should get it from amongst the aspirants, but which aspirant is capable of leading the opposition in the House.
According to a South East caucus member on condition of anonymity, what the PDP needs is to strengthen the opposition bench, affirming that all the aspirants have the potentials and capacity to achieve this set objective.
He added however, that “if they (caucus members) choose to apply sentiments and pick a weak bench, the APC will run us over and make a mockery of us.”
This sentiment was echoed by another member, from the South South, who acknowledged that “if we get it wrong now, we’ll all regret our actions later. If the PDP decides to do it in the order of ranking well and good, but if it is based on legislative experience, all the men presently gunning for the position are very capable hands.”
Other positions to be filled by the minority in the House are the deputy minority leader, minority whip and deputy minority whip.
The APC however, having elected produced the speaker and deputy speaker respectively, is still expected to fill the positions of House leader, deputy leader, whip and deputy whip respectively, with two lawmakers from Kano state, Rep. Alhassan Doguwa and Rep. Aminu Suleiman eyeing the position of House leader.