Opeyemi  Salau


Some lawmakers in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have questioned the non-inclusion of one of them in the National Assembly delegation that recently visited President Buhari in the UK.

According to the lawmakers, there was a decision to exclude members of the PDP from the visit even though one of them, Ike Ekweremadu, is the Deputy Senate President.

This was disclosed by the House Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, in an interview with Premium Times.

Although, Ogor admitted he was happy to learn from the media that the visit was productive and the president was in good health, he believes that at least one member of the opposition party should have made the trip.

His reaction comes a day after Senate President Bukola Saraki travelled to the United Kingdom with Speaker Yakubu Dogara and Senate Majority Leader, Ahmed Lawan, to see President  Buhari in London.

However, Ogor likened the visit to a similar one paid by APC leaders, Bola Tinubu and Bisi Akande.

He said: “You’re aware that the first visit was done by Tinubu and Akande.

“There was no PDP member that participated in that visit, so you can clearly see that it is more of a political party thing.”

Ogor, from Delta state, said he got wind of the visit early enough and was elated to see the president in good spirit.

“I have a hint of the visit much earlier. I saw the president smiling. I saw the Senate President smiling. I saw the Speaker smiling. And when I saw that picture, I also smiled.

“We thank God for his live. We wish him well,” Ogor said.

But he insisted that those who made the journey did so in their own personal capacity because there was no consensus amongst lawmakers delegating any group of persons for the journey.

He said: “But I am convinced that that visit was purely based on political colouration. So, it is totally inconsequential because we were not invited.

“It is at the discretion of the president to invite whoever he wants to see him.

“It is not a National Assembly delegation. It is like a private visit to see the president. First, you know we’re not in session. Neither was there any resolution of the House or that of the Senate to go and see the president.”

Ogor’s position was echoed by another lawmaker from Kogi state, who chose to remain anonymous so as not to be seen criticising the House leadership.

He said: “I did not hear about this visit before.

“I read it last night on Premium Times and I was initially shocked, but then said to myself: ‘no need to be surprised about anything these people do. 

“Since we weren’t told ahead, I think it’s very clear that they weren’t making the trip on our behalf.

“And they’ve clearly expressed that in the manner they picked those who went on the trip.”

Also, a source in Ekweremadu’s office claimed the Deputy Senate President was not informed about the trip.

“They didn’t invite the Deputy Senate President on the trip,” the source said, refusing to be quoted.

“They bypassed him down to the Senate Leader for reasons we still don’t know.”

The source said Ekweremadu just returned from a trip abroad but would have followed them to London if invited.

He said: “Yes, he just returned from abroad, but that could not have hindered him from being part of the delegation if they had extended him the courtesy.

“If only to make him be the representative of the southern part of the country instead of all the northern politicians that made the trip.”

But on his part, Nicholas Ossai, a PDP lawmaker from Delta state said he had no reservations about the makeup of the delegation.

Ossai said even though adding a PDP member would have been good, it would not make much difference since the delegates were duly elected by all lawmakers to represent the National Assembly as an institution.