In a tumultuous political landscape, several opposition parties in Rivers State have raised objections to the recent rescreening and confirmation of nine commissioner-designates by the state House of Assembly. The move, described as “illegal” by spokesperson Gogo Welington of the Labour Party, has ignited a debate about the constitutional legitimacy of the Assembly’s current composition.
Welington insisted that the House is not properly constituted, emphasizing that the issue of the 27 lawmakers who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) is now a constitutional matter. He urged a judicious approach, stating, “It is a constitutional matter, and you know some of these matters are before the courts of competent jurisdiction. They should allow the courts to take their decision.”
Backing recent protests demanding the vacation of seats by defected lawmakers, Welington pointed out that the law is explicit about defections, asserting, “The law is very clear that if you defect to another party, you are ready to vacate your seat if there is no internal wrangling in your party. And in the PDP, there is no wrangling. So the 27 members of the Assembly should know that their seats are already vacant because, constitutionally, they have already left the PDP.”
Echoing similar sentiments, Ben Ogbobula, the state chairman of the Zenith Labour Party, emphasized the need for the courts to adjudicate on the matter, as several suits are already in progress. He criticized the Assembly’s actions, stating, “For them to continue to sit and act as though they are unaware of the laws that they are supposed to protect and make is something that calls for us to wake up as a people and demand that these people stop insulting our sensibilities as citizens of the state.”
The controversy stems from the screening and confirmation of nine commissioner-nominees linked to Minister Nyesom Wike, who resigned from Governor Siminalayi Fubara’s administration amid a political crisis. The commissioners were swiftly approved after a brief introduction, further fueling tensions within the state’s political arena.