Home Politics Anxiety over Labour Party unending crises – The Sun Nigeria

Anxiety over Labour Party unending crises – The Sun Nigeria

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By Daniel Kanu

The failure  of the leadership of the Labour Party (LP) to proactively provide stringent measures to address deep rumbles threatening the soul of the party has become pathetic.

 

The soul of LP currently held by Comrade Julius Abure as national chairman has been in serious dispute since the conclusion of the 2023 general elections in which the party made a good showing.

There is no doubt that the strong inroads made into Nigeria’s politics in that election have given way to disorder, confusion, and crises upon crises.

It must be recalled that the crises started with a faction led by Mr Oshodi Apapa who claimed to have taken over the leadership of the party after the FCT High Court issued a restraining order for Abure to stop parading himself as national chairman of the party.

In March, the crisis assumed a new dimension when the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) leadership under Comrade Joe Ajaero called for the resignation of Àbure. This was after members of the Labour Union picketed the national sectariat of the party and passed a vote of no confidence in Àbure.

NLC had during their picketing action brandished different banners and chanted solidarity songs, accusing Abure of  “financial rascality” and contempt of their president, Ajaero. They were, however, prevented from gaining access into the party secretariat by security operatives drafted to the area to maintain peace.

There is no gainsaying that the national convention, held in the penultimate Wednesday at Nnewi, Anambra State by the party has surely worsened the internal crisis among various tendencies and factions in the party, instead of providing an opportunity for all the stakeholders to resolve their differences.

Expectedly, the convention ought to go into record as the first major gathering of the members of the party after the 2023 general elections where stakeholders will address the future of the LP amid leadership crisis, defection rumours and merger talks, among others.

But lack of consensus about holding what some members described as a “”secret  and social media” convention will no doubt, subject its outcome to another round of crisis as the public has started to witness.

Emerging scenario points to the fact that the national convention held by the Àbure faction has further widened the scope of its internal crisis.

Aggreived major stakeholders are now threatening to pull out, making the goodwill of the party to wane with its future looking bleak.

The question on the lips of political analysts is which direction the LP is heading after the national convention that returned embattled Abure as national chairman for a second term.

It was one gathering whose mission was already known before it started – to return the entire Abure-led executive.

Except positions of the Deputy National Chairman to be produced by the NLC and Trade Union Congress (TUC), all other positions were returned with Abure.

Nothing on the contrary was expected or entertained.

It was gathered that aside from barring certain interests into the venue, at least five persons, who reportedly sneaked into the arena to distribute inciting leaflets believed to be critical to the leadership of the party, were arrested and handed over to the police.

Since then, the convention has been visited with stiff opposition from the various factions within the party. Many of the stakeholders had wanted the exercise to be put on hold to make room for wider consultations, as well as broker peace among the contending interests.

However, irrespective of the views of the wider spectrum of the members of the party, those loyal to Abure cared less, gathered in Nnewi, where they returned him and other members of his committee.

This was in the absence of Dr Alex Otti, the only governor produced by the party;  Mr Peter Obi,  the 2023 presidential candidate of the party, members of the National Assembly, as well as some state legislators on the party platform.

As the crisis has continued to degenerate, not less than five House of Assembly members in Enugu State last week decamped to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) with more LP members planning to join the defection jamboree sooner or later.

Reports from the Nnewi convention showed that most chairmen of the party across the states of the federation were absent at the event.

The NLC has vowed not to accord Abure any form of recognition following his re-election.

NLC spokesperson, Benson Upah, told Sunday Sun that the Abure re-election is an “illegality, a nullity. The entire exercise was a charade. Nothing can legitimise such brazen impunity.’’

Upah urged the public to wait on its next line of action.

The Apapa”s faction, who claimed it was in court with the Abure executive over some anomalies in the party, also said that Abure’s convention was a sham.

Peter Okoye, a faction chairman for the Apapa group in Anambra State told Sunday Sun that “this indeed is not a convention. We are on top of the matter. There was no ward congress, no local government congress, and no state congress and now, who elected the delegates that went to Nnewi?

“The NLC was not there, TUC was absent and these are the owners of the party. We were not there either, not to talk about INEC and BOT members. We already have a matter in court coming up on April 4. That’s all I can say for now.”

No  sooner had the meeting ended than several members condemned it, including the electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

INEC speaking through its national chairman’s Chief Press Secretary, Rotimi Oyekanmi stated that the conduct of the convention was not monitored by INEC, even as he declined further comments on why the commission failed to show up at the venue.

Section 82 (1) of the Electoral Act states that political parties shall give INEC at least 21 days’ notice of convention, congress, and conference or meeting.

National Legal Adviser of the party, Kehinde Edun, however, clarified that the commission was informed about the venue and date.

It would be recalled that Umuahia had earlier been mooted as the venue of the convention but was “secretly’’ changed.

Apparently worried by what is going on in the party, its presidential candidate in the 2023 election, Mr Peter Obi, had said that if the crisis in the party continues, he and his massive supporters may have a rethink about staying in LP, despite the party offering him its 2027 presidential ticket.

Obi in his verified official X while engaging his supporters said: “Our engagement is about Nigeria, they are trying to change our focus, what we want to do is not about LP, it is about what the Obidients want to do about Nigeria.

“We are thinking about water, we are thinking about power, we are thinking about development, thinking about security that should be our focus. The other matter we will deal with. We were somewhere, we didn’t start with Labour.

“I am a Christian. Jesus said, when you go into a city try to change them, live with them, fast with them. If in the end they don’t change you come out and even wash the sand that is on your shoes.

“He didn’t say go there and die with them. I tell you, I’m making spirited efforts to change them (LP), but I am not going to die with them.

“That will not stop what we set out to do. We will try to change them ( LP), if we can’t, we will leave them, we will not die with them”.

Comrade Yunusa Tanko, Obi/Datti campaign spokesperson told Sunday Sun that Mr Obi asked the party leadership to consider shifting the contentious national convention to a later date for all aggreived parties to have a meaningful and wider consultations.

Party sources alleged that executive members of the party led by Abure were bent on returning themselves, hence the secrecy and the stringent measures like the rule that a member must have spent two years in the party before he or she can contest.

A highly reliable source told Sunday Sun that stakeholders are angry that the consultation was not properly done.

The source disclosed that people were not carried along, pointing out that it was the leaked letter of INEC that brought the convention to the attention of members and the public.

The National Publicity Secretary of the Apapa faction, Abayomi Arambabi told Sunday Sun that their anger against Abure was attributed to some of fraudulent activities, including forgery, which he added was already verified by the police.

Arambabi said that it was based on that he was restrained by the FCT High Court before the April 5, 2023 convention.

He said with the “INEC’s disclaimer on the convention, the only recognised authority of the LP now is that of Lamidi Apapa as the leader of the party.”

Kenneth Okonkwo, a vocal and staunch member of LP, described Abure’s Nnewi convention as “Social media convention,’’ which was illegal and unconstitutional.

Okonkwo harped on the burden of crisis of credibility hanging over Abure, advising him to resign without further delay or he may end up in jail.

Okonkwo in an opinion article published recently, argued that “a situation  where the National Chairman of the political party,  was accused by his predecessor of forging something; accused by his contemporary National Treasurer, Oluchi Opara, of forging something; accused by some candidates who ran under the Labour Party platform of forging something; accused by some renegade group of some suspended and expelled Labour Party members of forging something; and now majority of the Labour Party members are accusing him of forging a national convention, totally unknown to law.

“It’s obvious that his cup is full and he may need to purge himself of this spirit that operates in the children of disobedience and gently step aside from Labour Party.

“The so-called Nnewi convention cannot be referred to as convention of any political party because it falls short of any convention by the most flawed political party in Nigeria talk more of Labour Party which prides itself as a party that is geared towards creating a new Nigerian personality who would be patriotic, altruistic, transparent and committed to due process, and rule of law in governance, industry and other spheres of our national life.

“Every  Labour Party member knew about the convention on social media through a leaked letter written to the Independent National Electoral Commission by the former National Executive Council appointed National Chairman, Julius Abure, stating that the convention will take place in Benin, Edo State. No formal announcement or advert was placed in any media house intimating Labour Party members of the national convention.

“This  alone voids the convention because it offends the fundamental right of every Labour Party member to vote and be voted for, into any elective posts, in any organ of the party, subject to guidelines by the NEC or any organ so designed.”

What is certain is that the Nnewi convention, no doubt, has opened a new vista in the many crises ravaging the LP.

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