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The Labour Party crisis has taken a new turn.

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The Labour Party crisis has taken a new turn.

The Labour Party crisis has taken a new turn.

The Labour Party (LP) emerged as the third force during last year’s general election, winning one governorship seat and many state and national legislative seats. But, the success of the party has again thrown up another round of crisis leading to an alleged takeover of its administration by the Board of Trustees (BOT). Will the party survive this crisis or will it disintegrate? TONY AKOWE reports
The recent national convention held in Nnewi, Anambra State, by a faction of the Labour Party (LP) led by embattled National Chairman, Julius Abure has further widened the scope of the internal crises in the party.

The LP, which was formed by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and its sister Labour Centre, the Trade Union Congress (TUC), has been embroiled in one internal crisis after the other since its formation. Incidentally, all the crises have always had one thing or the other to do with its national chairman. After a successful stint as national chairman, Dan Nwanyawu left the party to establish the Zenith Labour Party and return the certificate of registration to the NLC.

However, the NLC has had to intervene in the crisis in the party at every instance through its political commission. It is an open secret that the nation’s two Labour centres, NLC and TUC are responsible for the registration of the party, but has left its management in the hands of politicians. Interestingly, the LP constitution gives the two-labour centre due recognition in the composition of its leadership. President and General Secretary of the NLC and TUC are automatic members of the National Executive Committee, and the Board of Trustees of the party. The Labour Centres also sit on the National Working Committee of the party with the President and General Secretary as well as the Chairman of the Women Commission being members.

The exit of Nwanyawu paved the way for the emergence of Abdulkadir Abdulsalam as National Chairman of the party. But his tenure was dogged by lots of crises and controversies. While the crisis with Abdulsalam lasted, Dr. Mike Omotosho, backed by the NLC emerged as factional National Chairman of the party. The emergence of Omotosho as National Chairman in 2018 also had the backing of some state Chairmen of the party who accused Abdulsalam of financial impropriety. He was accused of embezzling N1.3 billion belonging to the party. While the crisis lasted, Abure was in the background serving as the National Secretary of the party. Incidentally, while Abdulsalam died in 2020, Dr Omotosho died in 2022, after stepping aside from his factional chairmanship position to pave the way for Abure to emerge as National Chairman in 2021. Shortly after the emergence of Julius Abure as National Chairman, the LP found itself in another leadership tussle with Lamidi Apapa claiming leadership of the party and alleging that Abure was not duly elected as National Chairman. while suspending the Abure-led executive. But Abure had the backing of the NLC having emerged after a peace process brokered by the Labour Centre and the Independent National Electoral Commission. So, when Apapa claimed leadership of the party, the NLC led a protest to the party secretariat in support of Abure. In addition, the Political Commission of the Labour Centre lashed out at Apapa, describing his actions in the party as shameful, especially when he went to the tribunal as national chairman. Secretary to the political commission said “The shameful conduct of Mr. Lamidi Apapa at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal today, 17th May 2023, has once again brought to the fore the desperation of certain elements in the political class to deploy all manner of subterfuge and criminality to divide and despoil the massive goodwill currently being enjoyed by the Labour Party all over Nigeria. It is very unfortunate that Mr. Lamidi Apapa who continues to act lawlessly as an impostor ascribing to himself a vague status as the Chairman of the Labour Party and on the claims of representing the Nigeria Labour Congress, is receiving protection from institutions of the state whose mandate is the preservation of law and order. This perfidy by Mr. Lamidi Apapa and his cohorts has been sustained by interested political actors in Nigeria whose abiding wish is the death of the Labour Party. Mr Lamidi Apapa is a meddlesome interloper who is being used by reactionary forces to deny Nigerians the benefit of alternative political thought and organisation geared towards genuine national redemption and transformation. The NLC Political Commission wishes to reiterate its earlier statement disowning the so-called factional leadership of the Labour Party led by Mr Lamidi Apapa. Any attempt to allow Mr Lamidi Apapa to foist the show of shame he and his minions exhibited today at the sitting of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal would be strongly resisted by Organised Labour.”

The latest crisis in the party has led to a series of name-calling and accusations against each leader. For example, when the House of Representatives caucus of the party called for the postponement of the Nnewi convention to allow for wider consultation, the leadership of the party described them as unknowledgeable in the working of the party.

They went ahead with the convention, even though some major stakeholders stayed away from the convention. It also elected leaders without putting in place proper modalities for such. Some stakeholders in the party said there was no convention or electoral committee put in place for the convention which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it did not monitor.

 

It was the erstwhile National Treasurer, Oluchi Opara that ignited the latest crisis when she accused Abure of fraud, alleging that he could not account for about N3 billion of the money the party got from the sale of nomination forms for the 2023 general elections.

In June 2022, the NLC gave credence and recognition to the Julius Abure-led leadership of the party. The then NLC President, Ayuba Wabba said in a statement that “the point is that the Labour Party is what the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) say it is”. The leadership of the NLC and TUC recognize the leadership of the LP led by Abure, a former trade union leader and workers are part of the leadership. INEC recognizes only the LP leadership led by the Chairman, Barr. Julius Abure and the National Secretary, Alhaji Farouk Umaru Ibrahim. They are the only Labour Party officials whose details are provided on the INEC website. We understand that with the current repositioning of the Labour Party as the party for workers, youths, students, women, traders, farmers, professionals, physically disabled persons, the unemployed and the downtrodden, the Labour Party has become the albatross of establishment political parties who have suddenly become jittery and are devising all forms of conspiracy theories and subterfuge to distract the Labour Party from ongoing mass mobilization efforts for sweeping electoral victory in the 2023 general elections.

Ironically, the Abure-led LP has continued to deny ownership of the party by the NLC, even though it acknowledged the fact that the Labour Centre registered the party. It argued that the electoral act does not confer ownership of political parties on any individual or organization as it of registered as a body corporate. But acting on what the party called pressure from the NLC, its Board of Trustees said it was taking over the running of the party, promising to reposition it and conduct an all-inclusive national convention.

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