LP’s battle of many fronts: Who bails the cat?

EMEKA NZE takes a look at the different wars confronting the Labour Party (LP) and ponders whether the party will sail through the troubled waters before it faces the 2027 general polls.

When viewed from the prism of ordinary, the Labour Party ought to have been busy putting its house in order to prepare for 2027 general polls giving its impressive showing in the last general elections. But this is not so. Rather it is confronted by a monstrous internal battle threatening its existence from a multiple sides.

State of LP before 2023 polls 

The party, hitherto the general elections, was a mere formality which narrowly escaped the label of a ‘mushroom’ party, courtesy of Olusegun Mimiko, whose popularity then earned it the governorship seat of Ondo state. Besides that, there was no other known feat recorded by the party back then.

But six months into the 2023 general polls, with the entry of Mr Peter Obi into the party, it sprang from oblivion to become a new sensation or what many people preferred to call the ‘Third Force,’ which took the country by the storm and officially grew to the third position in the presidential and National Assembly elections last year. 

Ask the minders of the party and its zealous supporters known as the Obidients, they will not fail to harangue you that the party won the presidential polls, and in some states robbed of victory in the governorship contests which is why the party now controls only one state- Abia.

This is, however, not surprising because prior to the elections, many, especially, surveys, had tipped Labour Party as the would-be-winner of the presidential election due to its acceptance in many states of the federation. 

LP nosediving?

Now the in-fighting in the party has left many wondering if it would survive till the next general polls. The sensation that heralded the party prior and during the general elections has begun to die down. 

Observers attributed this to seemingly  conspiracy from multiple fronts waging war against the party to bring it to brink or at best whittle down the popularity it enjoyed among the citizenry in the last general polls.

These factors, according to analysts, are internal as well as external, if not nipped in the bud before the next power contest in the country may succeed in their intent. 

For the external factors, many party faithful point fingers to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) who they say see the LP as threat to return to power in 2027, and hence sponsors willing tools to cause distraction within its fold.

Factional chairman Lamidi Apapa’s onslaught, boosted by the former National Publicity Secretary Abayomi Arabambi and ex-youth leader Ansalem Eragbeh, have severally been explained in this light.

Suits were filed in Court and Abure won in the Court of Appeal, but that did not end the intraparty wrangling.

Apart from Apapa’s actions which momentum seems to have died down, the estranged national treasurer, Oluchi Opara, also accused Abure of allegedly diverting N3.5billion belonging to the party and challenged his continued leadership.

As if that is not enough, the Abure incurred the ire of the House of Reps Caucus and yet confronted by another behemoth, as the Nigeria Labour Congress joined the fray.

Both fronts – House of Reps Caucus and NLC- are bent on ending the leadership of Abure on the accusation that he is running the party unilaterally. The House of Reps Caucus chided Abure and his team for fixing a national convention without carrying stakeholders along.

The NLC lays claim of party ownership and resolved to take it back owing to the ‘whimsical leadership’ provided by Abure.

The situation had escalated to the point where the NLC accused the LP national chairman, Julius Abure, of running the affairs of the LP as a sole administrator. As a result, the NLC passed a vote of no confidence in the leadership of the national chair of the party and consequently called for his resignation.

While the conflict subsisted, the party under the leadership of Abure, against the wish of many stakeholders, planned and executed a convention in Nnewi Anambra state where Abure returned. This heightened the feud between it and the NLC which maintained its stance to take over the party, terming the Nnewi convention illegal.

LP/NLC tussle

Just last Friday, the party through its National Publicity Secretary Obiora Ifoh took a swipe on the former Presidential Campaign Council spokesman, Dr Tanko Yunusa, who Ifoh said was blinded by ambition, not mandated to speak for Obi

While urging Yunusa to “stop constituting public nuisance, the party said 

there were “numerous media reports in which Dr. Tanko Yunusa has been quoted as speaking for the party’s National Leader, Peter Obi at the illegal, unconstitutional meeting convened by the Political Commission of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). 

“We have also watched Tanko Yunusa’s recent media outbursts where he has ferociously attacked the leadership of the party, particularly after the successful National Convention of the Party, where he had schemed with the NLC’s Political Commission with the assurances that he will drive the new leadership of the party. We must state here that Yunusa Tanko cannot surreptitiously in connivance with the NLC hijack the leadership of the party through the back door.

“On Tuesday, Yunusa also attempted to twist the well intentioned visit of our National Leader to the Labour Party headquarters in Abuja on a solidarity with the newly elected National Working Committee where he pledged to support the party leadership and work for the reconciliation of the aggrieved members of the party.

Yunusa Tanko in his usual way of concocting lies also said that Peter Obi had met with the political arm of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), and that of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), on that Wednesday morning. We have fact checked and found out that this was another blatant lies by the self appointed spokesperson of Peter Obi.

“I must state it here clearly that we have it on good authority that Yunusa Tanko does not have permission of our Presidential Candidate, Peter Obi to speak on his behalf and that the expressions he made at that Stakeholders meeting and that of the Press Release were his personal views and not the views of our principal.

“Tanko Yunusa and his Co travellers should stop dragging the name of the Trade Union Congress into their illegal and unconstitutional actions. The leadership of TUC has made their terms clear. TUC is working closely and are in alliance with the party hence they attended the party’s National Convention and have also been interfacing with the party leadership on every actions we have been taken.

“We must also state clearly here, just as Peter Obi has taught us that any person aspiring to any office must tell us who he is and his trajectory. 

The current leadership of the party without sounding immodest has shown capacity and political sagacity by producing a state governor, seven Senators, 35 House of Representatives members and numerous members of the state Assembly members and today Labour Party has assumed the status of a major opposition party. We have remained the voice of the voiceless and have represented the people of Nigeria effectively. 

“We would like to warn Tanko Yunusa to stop dropping the name of Peter Obi everywhere he goes and be man enough to stand on his pedigree when attending illegal meetings such as the one conducted by the NLC’s Political Commission.

“We are also calling on the NLC’s Political Commission to wake up from their slumber and stop constituting public nuisance with their so called Interim Leadership. They must realize that Nigeria is a country with law and that the law does not support their actions. Since they have chosen to dance naked in the market square, we have refused to go low with them but we only want to assure them that for every action there will certainly be a reaction.” 

Obi factor and the future

The crisis in the party has left many wondering if it would retain the crowd it commanded in the last general elections and whether Mr Peter Obi would run on the same platform. 

For Obi though, what is important is for him now is how citizens would find food on their table and for the insecurity in the country to be abated, which forms the fulcrum of his opposition to the ruling APC.