LP BoT Ignores Outcome of National Convention, Takes over Running of Party

•Abure re-elected at controversial exercise  

•Obi, Otti, others boycott Anambra convention  

•NLC: It’s illegal, nullity

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja and David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka

The Board of Trustees (BoT) of Labour Party (LP), yesterday, stepped in to steer the affairs of the party, following the expiration of the tenure of the National Working Committee (NWC) headed by Mr. Julius Abure.

The party said, in a statement by Chairman of the BoT, Comrade S.O.Z. Ejiofor, that the step was to avoid leadership vacuum.

By that development, however, the BoT ignored yesterday’s national convention of the party in Nnewi, Anambra State, which re-elected Julius Abure as its national chairman for a second term through unanimous affirmation by delegates.

The convention was held in the absence of key members of the party, including the party’s presidential candidate in the 2023 general election, Mr Peter Obi; governor of Abia State, Dr Alex Otti; and senators of the party from Anambra State, Victor Umeh, and Tony Nwoye.

But the BoT said in consultation with major stakeholders in the party, it would soon communicate the processes for the conduct of an all-inclusive and expansive national convention. It claimed this was in line with the March 20, 2018 Federal High Court consent judgement delivered by Justice Gabriel Kolawole, which recognised the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) as the owners of LP and mandated that an all-inclusive and expansive national convention of the party be held.

The BoT stated, “The decision of the Board of Trustees is also in furtherance of the agreement signed between the former National Chairman of the Labour Party, Mr. Julius Abure, and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) on 27th June 2022, which was mediated by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“While we commend members of the Labour Party, especially workers, students, youths, market women and men, Obidients, and candidates on the platform of the Labour Party, for their contributions and fidelity to the ideals of the party, the Board of Trustees promises to quickly set in motion processes for the conduct of an all-inclusive and expansive national convention.

“Unlike the charade that took place today in Nnewi and in tandem with the principles of popular democracy, the all-inclusive national convention will start with grassroots congresses at ward, local government, state and, ultimately, at the national level.

“This process will not leave any genuine member of Labour Party out and will be held in the full view of the Independent National Electoral Commission, media, civil society, security agents and the general public.

“We commend the leader of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, and key stakeholders in the Labour Party for declining to deodorise the malfeasance that took place in Nnewi with their presence.

“The BOT assures all stakeholders that we are committed to reclaiming and repositioning the Labour Party as the vehicle for the socio-political emancipation of our dear country, her working people and populace.”

Meanwhile, Abure was declared re-elected yesterday at the Nnewi convention by Chairman of the National Convention and Deputy Governor of Abia State, Mr. Ikechukwu Emetu.

During the convention, journalists were barred from accessing the Grand Seasons Hotel venue in Nnewi, the Anambra State capital.

There was heavy security presence at the venue, and attempts to get the spokesman of the party, Obiorah Ifoh, to identify and usher journalists into the venue were rebuffed.

About five persons branded as hoodlums were arrested at the venue and taken to the state police headquarters for questioning.

The hoodlums were said to be distributing inciting leaflets critical of the leadership of the party.

A party source said the intention of the arrested persons and their sponsors was to destabilise the convention.

A communique circulated after the convention, signed by Abure and Alhaji Umar Farouk Ibrahim, National Secretary, stated that the party had reserved its ticket for the 2027 presidential election for Obi. It called on President Bola Tinubu to tackle the rising insecurity and inflation in the country.

The communique said, regarding Obi, “Based on the antecedents of the presidential candidate before, during and after the 2023 general election, (it) recommend that the 2027 presidential ticket of the party be solely reserved for His Excellency, Mr. Peter Gregory Obi, the national leader of the party.

“The national convention reviewed the state of the nation and concluded that it is not grabbing power that matters but what you do with it.

“After the 2023 general election, the security situation of the nation has not improved as there is a geometrical increase in numbers of lives lost and the economy has worsened, as the standard and conditions of living of the Nigerian populace has continued to deteriorate.

“Inflation is sky-rocketing, unemployment rate is high, this has led to massive hunger and poverty in the land. This is a result of the continuous devaluation of the currency and increase in petroleum product prices.

“The convention-in-session, therefore, called on the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to quickly take drastic and proactive steps to save the economy from total collapse, to revive the economy and put it on the path of growth and development.”

The communique assured LP members across the country of an optimistic and bright future. It appreciated all forums, groups and others for their steadfast support in the 2023 general election and onwards.

“Now that elections are over, the convention-in-session encourages all groups to collapse their structures at the ward, local, and national levels into the already existing structure of the party,” communique stated.

A list of national officers elected alongside Abure included Deputy National Chairman, Mr. Clement Ojukwu; Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Ayo Olunrufemi;  National Vice Chairman, North Central, Abraham Idoko; and National Vice Chairman, South-east, Ceekay Igara.

Equally elected were National Vice Chairman, South-south, Anthony C. Ezeagwu; National Secretary, Alhaji Umar Farouk Ibrahim; Deputy National Secretary, Rotimi Kehinde Adekunle; and Deputy National Secretary, Innocent Okeke.

Others were National Treasurer, Mrs Ngozi Doga; National Financial Secretary, Dayo Ekong; National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Ifoh Obiora; National Organising Secretary, Comrade Yahuza Ahmed; and National Legal Adviser, Kehinde Edun.

Mrs. Dudu Manuga was elected National Women Leader; Kennedy Ihanotu emerged National Youth Leader; Assistant National Youth Leader, North-west, was Abdulrahman Chindo; and Assistant National Youth Leader, South-south, Barry Auotu.

Three positions were, however, left unfilled. They were Deputy National Chairman (NLC), Deputy National Chairman (TUC), and Deputy National Chairman.

The party said, “The convention-in-session empowers the National Working Committee (NWC) to fill existing vacancies in the NWC and NEC.”

NLC: Convention is Illegal, Nullity

Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), however, described as illegal and a nullity, yesterday’s national convention of LP.

Head of Information at the NLC, Comrade Benson Upah, said, “It’s an illegality, a nullity. The whole exercise was a charade! Nothing can legitimise such brazen impunity.”

The Alhaji Lamidi Apapa faction of the party also boasted that the convention would not stand.

Anambra State factional chairman of the party, who heads the Apapa faction in the state, Mr Peter Okoye, dismissed the convention as sham.

Okoye, who spoke to journalists in Anambra, said, “This is not a convention. We are on top of the matter. It’s purely illegal.

“There was no ward congress, no local government congress, no state congress, and now who and who elected the delegates that are electing the NWC members?

“The NLC is not there, TUC is not there, the owners of the party and members of the NEC and BOT members are not there, too, so who is holding the convention?”

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