Labour Party Tickets Are Presently In High Demand Among Politicians
Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra State, becoming the Labour Party’s presidential candidate has unexpectedly transformed the party into a stunning bride, with numerous politicians vying for its ticket. The desire of Nigerians for a shift from “old and recycled leaders” is not unrelated to this conflict; in particular, those who view the Labour candidate as a “beacon of hope” who will bring about the desired change they long for in the nation.
Even though Dr. Olusegun Mimiko later switched back to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), where he was before joining LP, the 2002-founded LP had remained mostly unknown in the nation’s election process until it was elected as the governor of Ondo State on its platform.
The party held primaries for governor, National Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives), and Houses of Assembly across the states between May 26 and June 8, 2022, and uploaded the names of successful candidates on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) portal before the June 17 deadline before Obi emerged as the LP’s presidential candidate.
However, the party’s tickets, which are now the delight of lawmakers, have sparked a significant issue because it was claimed that the national leadership had switched the lists to make room for new candidates.
The national leadership of the party unilaterally replaced the names of candidates who had previously been submitted to the INEC with another set of names. Around six state chapters are currently in a crisis.
Lagos, Plateau, Imo, Ebonyi, Kaduna, and Enugu are the affected states. The national leadership’s decision to substitute the candidates’ names with placeholders who had voluntarily withdrew their nominations astonished the candidates, whose names had previously been submitted to INEC.
The national leadership of the party notified INEC in a letter headed “Notice of Withdrawal and Date of Primaries” that it intended to organize substitute primaries to select its candidates for the governorship, National Assembly, and State Houses of Assembly in the 2023 general elections.
The letter was jointly signed by the LP’s National Chairman, Julius Abure, and National Secretary, Umar Farouk Ibrahim.
Since then, some state chapters of the party have chosen new slates of candidates for the general elections, while others are now holding substitute primary in which fresh faces will be elected. The affected candidates, however, have vehemently opposed the action and charged the party with faking their letters of resignation.
Ifagbemi Awamaridi, one of theaffected candidates in Lagos State, has petitioned the Federal High Court to prevent the party and the INEC from recognizing Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour as their candidate for governor.
Rhodes-Vivour won the Labour Party’s nomination for governor in a substitute primary that was observed by the INEC. Abayomi Arabambi, the party’s national publicity secretary, then gave Rhodes-Vivour a certificate of results.
However, Awamaridi called the incident “comic.” Awamaridi roared,“to say that I am a factional candidate for Lagos State is a very wrong statement” Still enraged when he was referred to as the party’s factional candidate.
While claiming that the election that resulted in Rhodes-Vivour becoming a candidate for governor was “fraudulent,” The certificate of return granted to Rhodes-Vivour, according to Awamaridi, is ” a piece of paper” and “unconstitutional and irrelevant.”
He asserted that he is still the party’s “substantive governorship candidate of the party” and that no other candidates should be put forward by the party or the election body unless a candidate withdraws or passes away.
He words: “I have not resigned, I have gone to court to make a declaration when I got to know about the comedy and shenanigans. I went to court and made a declaration on oath that I have not withdrawn my candidature. I’m alive, I’m not dead.”
He added that he is still the candidate “until the final determination of the suit in court.”
In an affidavit of non-withdrawal by Awamaridi at an Abuja High Court, he said under oath, “I did not withdraw my candidature and I am not withdrawing my candidature and do not intend to withdraw my candidature and I shall not withdraw my candidature.
“I hereby state under oath that I am alive, I am not dead and do not consent to any obituary documentation whatsoever done in my name.”
Awamaridi pointed out that under the 2022 Electoral Act, his replacement is only possible by death or voluntary withdrawal.
Awamaridi stated that he had made the decision to speak out because he could not afford to be “complacent” following the announcement of another contender for governor.
He added that he joined the party through the congress and is the legitimate state chairman of the organization, saying the party works with the “constitution and not the imaginations of (some) individuals.”
Awamaridi refuted rumors that he had been promoted to the party’s national level and that Vivour had been given the gubernatorial ticket. Nobody had contacted him about that, he insisted. He insisted that he was still the legitimately elected state chairman of the LP in Lagos State, and that his term had not yet ended. He emphasized that there must be proof, including a letter, if he had had lost his position as chairman. He pleaded with party members to maintain peace in order to win the election in 2023, claiming that the National Executive Council (NEC) had not met in the previous two years to even reach such a fictitious decision.
“Delegates elected me across the state, from the ward to the local government officers as LP gubernatorial candidate in Lagos State.
“I was elected state chairman and my tenure has not expired. Nobody can take over the party’s position from the backyard. The NEC meeting was held about two years ago. You can’t come through the backyard and claim to own the party or be the gubernatorial candidate.
“We are going into elections, and we don’t want division in LP. The party is one in Lagos State.”
Rhodes-Vivour, who last month switched to the LP after failing to win the PDP primary, said that the INEC has received his paperwork.
He affirmed that INEC officials were present at the substitute primary where he was elected, and “INEC officials will not come to witness a substitution primary if the person that was there had not withdrawn.
“There are processes that the party went through to create that substitution primary, which was followed and INEC approved it. And my name has been submitted to INEC as a candidate of the party.”
He continued by saying that when the party’s national officials traveled to Lagos to provide him with a certificate of return, his candidacy gained additional credibility.
According to Rhodes-Vivour, the party used Awamaridi as a stand-in because they desired a “credible” candidate to “come and use their platform.”
“These placeholders do not pay the premiums that candidates paid for those nomination forms.
“You also find that these placeholders sign withdrawal letters before their names are submitted,” he added, that the party has not received any petition from Awamaridi.
Awamaridi has been warned by Arabambi, the LP’s national publicity secretary, to stop posing as the party’s candidate.
Arabambi said the party is unhappy in Awamaridi’s “unscrupulous and dubious politics,” adding that the party had completed the essential paperwork with INEC concerning its new candidate.
“Awamaridi was the Chairman of the LP Lagos Caretaker Committee at one point. He was made a placeholder for the governorship primary election. His name was submitted as the governorship candidate since Lagos LP was yet to finally conclude all the required processes.
“The placeholder status given to Awamaridi was one from which he formally tendered official resignation. His letter of resignation was willfully, voluntarily and clearly signed and tendered. Documents don’t lie.”
Arabambi emphasized that Awamaridi’s stint as the head of the caretaker committee has come to an end before saying that if he felt wronged in any way, he might go to court to seek legal remedy.
“We officially and very strongly re-affirm with all authority that the winner of the substitution election on the platform of the LP as the governorship candidate for 2023 for Lagos State is Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour,” he said.
According to Arabambi, the National Working Committee’s newly chosen 24-member interim executive committee of the party in the state has been officially inaugurated by the party (NWC).
The Labour Party’s candidate for the Agege 1 Constituency, Lagos State House of Assembly, Sunday Achurefe, one of the affected candidates in Lagos, also stated that he was shocked to see a letter written by the state chapter announcing another round of primaries to produce its governorship and House of Assembly candidates. Achurefe had won the Labour Party’s primary on May 26.
“I was preparing for the election proper, when I suddenly learnt that our names had been replaced by the national leadership of the party.
“How is that possible? I spent several millions of naira to get to this stage. And out of nowhere, the party is announcing that I am no longer its candidate.Where is that done?
“What even baffled me is that they (party leaders) claimed that I signed an oath before a competent court of jurisdiction to withdraw from the race.
“Please, help me ask them when and where I signed the affidavit. This is a clear case of forgery. It must not go unpunished. We are already in court to correct the anomaly,” said Achurefe, who spoke on behalf of affected candidates.
The Labour Party chapter in Imo State is also in difficulty. Dr. Okorondu Nwachukwu, who had on June 9 been named the party’s senatorial candidate for Imo North, filed a petition with INEC protesting the party’s leadership’s withdrawal of their support for him.
Nwachukwu insists he is still competing and refuted reports that he had quit.
Nwachukwu expressed disbelief that his party had notified the electoral commission of his alleged resignation in a petition to INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu sent by his attorney, Emmanuel Adedeji, headlined “Re: Purported withdrawal as candidate of Labour Party for Imo North Senatorial Zone.”
“It was brought to the notice of our client that the Labour Party wrote a letter to the commission, informing the commission of his withdrawal as the candidate of the Labour Party for Imo North Senatorial Zone, and also informing the commission of the party’s intention to conduct a fresh primary election.
“Our client hereby informs the commission that he did not at any time withdraw as the candidate of the Labour Party for Imo North Senatorial Zone, and that he never wrote any letter of withdrawal nor deposed to any affidavit in support of any letter of withdrawal.
“Our client was shocked when he discovered that some persons concocted plans to mislead the commission into believing that he has withdrawn as the candidate of the Labour Party for Imo North Senatorial Zone.
“Our client states unequivocally that the purported letter of withdrawal and accompanying affidavit (if any was submitted by the party to the commission) were forged.”
Nwachukwu urged INEC to send the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) his supposed letter of withdrawal and the affidavit that accompanied it for review.
Similar circumstances are shaking the state branch of the party in Plateau State. In place of Ambassador Yohanna Margif, who won the August 7 replacement primary and was chosen by the LP as its governorship candidate for the 2023 election, Dr. Patrick Dakum’s name was substituted. Margif won’t go down without a fight, though.
The former ambassador claims that he is still the party’s legitimate flag bearer in the state.
He also encouraged residents of the state to ignore anyone posing as the party’s new candidate.
Margif reported that a few people had approached him “requesting that I relinquish the hard earned ticket to them, but being the serious minded politician that I am, I felt it will be unwise to toy with the party’s mandate and the peoples’ trust hence my stern refusal to grant their wishes.
“Surprisingly, while I was strategically going on with my campaigns, my attention was drawn to a purported and illegal primary election by some disgruntled political elements who disguised themselves as members of the Labour Party in Plateau State at which one Dr. Patrick Dakum emerged as my replacement.
“While I find that Kangaroo arrangement, which is obviously borne out of desperation laughable, it is imperative I set the records straight. I wish to state clearly that I am the only and authentic governorship candidate of the Labour Party in Plateau State.
“I wish to state clearly that I have not in any way contemplated withdrawing from the 2023 governorship election in Plateau State and I will not withdraw from the race.
“I am in the contest to win the election and give Plateau people good governance that will enthrone development.
“I am not in the contest to withdraw, and the ticket of the Labour Party in Plateau State is not for sale. Therefore, those who are clamouring for the ticket and misleading gullible people and Nigerians that I have withdrawn from the race should desist forthwith,” he said.
Margif was expelled from his party for engaging in anti-party activities because of his insistence on maintaining his position on the ticket.
The party told the public in a statement that Amb. Yohanna Margif, a former candidate for governor of Plateau State on behalf of the Labour Party, had been expelled.
Eze Oko Splendour, the party’s troubled governorship candidate for Ebonyi State in the general elections of 2023, has promised to stand his own regardless of the strong pressure from the party’s national leadership.
The candidate for governor asserted that the party’s national leadership may have impersonated him to sign his letter of withdrawal from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Therefore, he threatened legal action, saying that he would do everything in his power to protect his ticket while also outlining circumstances that could force him to give it up.
He claimed that the delegates who took part in the State primary election, which was observed by INEC, duly nominated and voted for him. On June 9, the primary was held at the Ebonyi State party headquarters.
“NEC wrote a report and sent it to the national headquarters in Abuja and my name was uploaded as the rightful governorship candidate of the party. But after the successful primary, some power brokers, particularly Edward Nkwagu, who contested the governorship election in Ebonyi State APC and lost, suddenly developed an interest in joining Ebonyi State Labour Party through the national instead of joining through the state.
“As I speak now, the national leadership has sent a dissolution letter regardless of the fact that my tenure has not expired. I was appointed the state chairman of LP, Ebonyi State in May 2022. It is an appointment that will expire in the next three months’ time. But because the national leadership was desperate for everything, especially to take away the governorship ticket from me and hand it over to the moneybag, they decided to terminate our tenure.
“I disagreed with them because the new Electoral Act stipulates that if a candidate emerged from a validly conducted primary, there must be a written withdrawal letter with a deposed affidavit by the candidate. As I speak with you, I have not written any withdrawal letter, and I am not ready to withdraw for anybody.
“I have strong feelings that they must have forged my signature to write a withdrawal letter to INEC. But I am not disturbed because everybody knows that it is a criminal act. I am not ready to step down for anybody or bow to their threat or antics to give up my ticket. If I didn’t conduct LP primary then, there would not have been anything like the party existing in the state.”
Peter Hassan, the party’s state chairman in Kaduna State, has opposed the substitution primary that resulted in Jonathan Asake, the former leader of the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU), becoming the LP’s candidate for governor.
After Shunom Adinga, the party’s first governorship candidate, reportedly resigned in the name of brotherhood and unity, Asake was confirmed during a substitute primary.
For the third time, the party will, however, run a different candidate for governor after Hassan claimed that the party’s top brass had no control over the substitute primary.
The significant governorship candidate will be presented at a later date, according to Hassan, who claimed that the party leadership was unaware of people who participated in the primary process.
In a related development, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman of INEC, has indicated that the final list of presidential candidates will be released on September 20 and the list of candidates for governorships will be released on October 4.