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Labour Party Makes Inroad into 10th N’Assembly

Labour Party Makes Inroad into 10th N’Assembly

Udora Orizu writes that Peter Obi’s popularity and acceptance has paved way for Labour Party to clinch several Senate and House of Representatives seats in the February 25, 2023 National Assembly elections

The unending popularity, acceptance and love of the citizens for former Anambra State Governor and Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi, has brought the party into national reckoning and consciousness, turning it into one that’s feared by members of the ruling All Progressive Congress and main opposition, People’s Democratic Party.
The just concluded 2023 Presidential and National Assembly elections came with shocking, unprecedented dynamics never before witnessed since the return of democratic rule in 1999.
While this election witnessed seven serving governors who usually use national assembly as their retirement home, losing out their bid to be elected into the 10th Senate, the most shocking outcome of this election is the fact that Labour Party unseat so many serving lawmakers, including principal officers.

Brief History of Labour Party
Labour Party was created in 2002 and was previously known as the Party for Social Democracy (PSD) before changing to its current name the following year. Built on the ideology of social democracy, the party aims to promote and defend social democratic principles and ideals for the purpose of achieving social justice, progress and unity.
Until now, the Labour Party was an obscure party, with little or no presence in the 36 states and FCT.
Although Olusegun Mimiko broke the jinx in 2009 to become the first Nigerian governor to be elected on the Labour Party platform, the party had no stake at the National Assembly until the defection of a Senator out of the 109 senators and two out of the 360 House of Representatives members.
But in May 2022, the party’s membership and support increased drastically as the former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, joined the party shortly after leaving the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in a bid to run for the 2023 presidential election.

Obi’s Emergence and Birth of Obi-dients
Obi’s entrance into the presidential race on the platform of the LP changed the narrative, bringing the party to national consciousness ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Unlike in the past when the presidential poll was a straight fight between the candidates of the two major parties, the APC and PDP, the reverse appears to be the case this time around, with the entrance to the race by Peter Obi, on the platform of LP.
Obi’s defection to LP, also gave birth to the ‘Obidient’ movement. The movement driven mostly by youths, leveraged on the good image of Obi to create a third force. Obi is perceived as the candidate that can take the country out of the economic and security crisis bedeviling it.
As the obi-dient movement continues to gather momentum, members of the ruling APC and main opposition PDP tagged labour party as a party without structure and obi-dients as social media noisemakers.

The PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, said the Labour Party lacks the structure required to win the 2023 presidential election in the country.
Atiku during an interview on Arise TV, said although the Labour Party claims to have over one million votes for Osun governorship election on social media, the party’s votes after the counting didn’t justify the claim.

He said, “I really don’t expect the Labour Party to take as much votes from the PDP as people are suggesting, we have seen it in the last election in Osun State. What’s the performance of the Labour Party? This is a party that doesn’t have a governor, doesn’t have members of the National Assembly, and doesn’t have state assembly members. And politics in this country depends on the structures you have at these various levels at the local, state and at the national level, so it is very difficult to expect a miracle to happen simply because Peter Obi is in the Labour Party. After all they were saying through the social media; they have more than one million votes in Osun State but how many turned up to vote for Labour Party? In the North, 90 percent of the people are not on social media.”
As opponents mocked Obi supporters, they surged on and paid no attention, insisting that, structure or no structure, the movement will deliver President Peter Obi on May 29, 2023.

The LP Tsunami in National Assembly
Back in October 2022, LP vice presidential candidate, Datti Baba-Ahmed said Nigerians should expect political Tsunami in 2023.
He said he had been to some states and seen movement for a new Nigeria and thirst of many young, poor and underprivileged, to have a better country.
“What is happening now is phenomenon. What happened in 2019 was limited to the North West and North East, and obviously Buhari won. Nigerians should expect political tsunami. The tsunami will happen across the six geo-political zones. What is happening now is not about state of origin, traders, artisan, youths, professionals, farmers, all in the same movement and there is safety in this because you won’t find a farmer in Sokoto fighting another farmer in Lagos because they are united by one common factor,” he said

True to his words, though Obi, was adjudged by INEC to have lost the presidential election after having won 12 states, including Lagos and other former strongholds of the two previously dominant parties with a total 6,101,533 votes, it was a tsunami indeed as Obi’s supporters secured several seats in the 10th National Assembly for candidates who contested on the platform of LP.

As at Saturday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, at a meeting with the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja, said in the Senate, the All Progressives Congress won 57 seats; the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won 29 seats; Labour Party won six, New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) won two; Social Democratic Party (SDP) also won 2; the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and Young Peoples Party (YPP) won one each.

Also, in the House of Representatives, APC won 262, PDP 102; LP 34; APGA four; African Democratic Congress (ADC) and SDP won two each while YPP won one.
This would make the incoming 10th Assembly the most diverse since 1999 in terms of party representations. Some of the notable LP wins include, defeat of the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu who was seeking re-election for fifth term.
He was defeated by the Labour Party’s candidate, Ngozi Okolie, in Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency of Delta State.
Elumelu polled a total of 33,456 votes, while the LP candidate polled a total of 53,879 votes to emerge winner as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission, Returning Officer, Kenneth Ibe, in Asaba.

Also, the ambition of the Deputy Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Hon Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, (APC) to return to the House for a fifth term did not materialise afterall as Chief Amobi Ogah of the Labour Party coasted home to victory. Announcing the results, the returning officer, Barr. Nneoma Nnochiri declared that, LP scored 11,769, PDP 6760, APC 8752, APGA 1,198.

Another notable win for LP, is the defeat of Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu North) Governor of the Coal City State, member of the 5th, 6th and 7th House of Representatives. He lost his Senatorial bid to the candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Okey Ezea.
Aside Ugwuanyi’s loss, Labour Party won every other National Assembly position in Enugu, leaving out only two spots which were clinched by PDP candidates for Enugu West Senatorial District, Osita Ngwu and Hon. Nnolim Nnaji, representing Nkanu East/West in the House of Representatives.
In Anambra, Labour Party won majority of the National Assembly seats in the state. The Party won two out of the three senatorial zones of the state, and also won almost all the Federal House of Representatives seats.

LP supporters retired many political actors in the state, especially two of the incumbent senators Uche Ekwunife of the People’s Democratic Party (Anambra Central), and Stella Oduah of the People’s Democratic Party (Anambra North), both of whom lost to their Labour Party opponents.
In Lagos, Thaddeus Attah of LP defeated incumbent Jide Obanikoro in Eti-osa federal Constituency while in the Federal Capital Territory, LP candidate Ireti Kingibe garnered 202,175 votes to defeat incumbent Senator Philip Aduda of PDP.

As the Labour Party wins trickle in, the “Obi Effect” can’t be denied and not letting up anytime soon. Labour Party has become the new political pride in the country and Elites are shocked, and admitting to the “Peter Obi Effect”.
An example was seen last week, when the PDP presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar who earlier described LP as a party without structure, said that the PDP is open to an alliance with Obi’s labour party.

Also following LP Tsunami in Anambra State, the governor, Charles Soludo has appealed to indigenes to vote for APGA in Saturday’s state assembly’s election.
While LP supporters have vowed to win governorship and states houses of assembly seats come March 11, the INEC Chairman has disclosed that certificates of return will be presented to Senators-elect on Tuesday 7th March 2023 by 11.00am at the National Collation Centre (the International Conference Centre), Abuja, while members of the House of Representatives-elect will receive theirs the following day, Wednesday, 8th March at the same venue.

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