Controversy Trails Abure’s Re-election as Labour Party Chairman

Controversy Trails Abure’s Re-election as Labour Party Chairman

National Chairman of Labour Party, Julius Abure, was recently re-elected  for a second term at a convention held in Nnewi, Anambra State. David-Chyddy Eleke reports that the convention was not without hassles and also remains controversial.

Grand Season Hotel in Nnewi, the venue of Labour Party national convention which held last week was like the proverbial needle’s eye, which would be much more easier for an elephant to pass through than a journalist. The venue was policed heavily by stern looking, gun totting security operatives who denied everyone entry, except those duly identified by party officials. As early as 7am, the venue has been cordoned off by the security men.

During the convention, journalists were barred from entering the Grand Seasons Hotel in Nnewi, Anambra State where the convention held. 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 was rebuffed. A source said it was deliberate that the party refused to allow journalists entry into the convention venue.

“As at the last minute, we were not sure if the convention will still hold after it was moved from Abia State to Anambra. We needed to take steps to ensure that the venue remained secret, and only known by all those who will participate”.

To underscore the security consciousness of the party at the convention, and vigilance to thwart any unforseen circumstances, five persons who were branded hoodlums were arrested at the venue and taken to the police headquarters for questioning. The men were arrested for simply distributing leaflets said to be inciting and critical of the leadership of the party and the convention.

Much later the same day, Julius Abure was in a voice vote by delegates re-elected as the National Chairman of the party for a second term. He was declared elected by the chairman of the National Convention who is also the Deputy Governor of Abia State, Mr. Ikechukwu Emetu.

Controversies have, however, continue to trail the convention. One is the absence of key stakeholders of the party during the convention, including the party’s presidential candidate in the 2023 general elections, Mr Peter Obi, Governor of Abia State, Dr Alex Otti, the two senators of the party from Anambra State where the convention was held; Senators Victor Umeh and Tony Nwoye and other elected officials.

Another is the denial by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), that it was not duly informed about the convention, and as such did not monitor it. This is one of the criteria for the convention to be deemed authentic.

INEC in reaction to the convention by the Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, said in Abuja that the conduct of the convention was not monitored by INEC, but declined to state further why it was not monitored.

INEC is not the only party opposed to the convention. The factional leadership of the party in Anambra, which is loyal to Alhaji Lamidi Apapa has also disproved of the convention. The chairman of the faction in Anambra, Mr Peter Okoye, dismissed the convention as a 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?” the state factional chairman wondered.

Despite the rancour and disapproval, the party has gone ahead with validating the outcome of the convention, which is recognizing Abure as the national chairman of the state.

A communique circulated after the convention, which was signed by Mr Julius Abure and Alhaji Umar Farouk Ibrahim, National Chairman and National Secretary respectively gave a long list of its party officials elected. They include Deputy National Chairman, Mr. Clement Ojukwu; Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Ayo Olunrufemi;  National Vice Chairman, North Central, Abraham Idoko; National Vice Chairman South East, Ceekay Igara; National Vice Chairman South South, Anthony C. Ezeagwu; National Secretary, Alhaji Umar farouk Ibrahim; Deputy National Secretary, Rotimi Kehinde Adekunle; Deputy National Secretary, Innocent Okeke.

Others are National Treasurer, Mrs Ngozi Doga; National Financial Secretary, Dayo Ekong; National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Ifoh Obiora; National Organizing Secretary, Comrade Yahuza Ahmed; National Legal Adviser, Kehinde Edun; National Women leader, Mrs. Dudu Manuga; National Youth Leader, Prince Kennedy Ihanotu; Assistant National Youth Leader, North  West, Abdulrahman Chindo;  Assistant National Youth Leader South South, Barry Auotu.

Three positions were however left unfilled. They include 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.”

In the communique issued after the convention, the party also said: “Based on the antecedents of the Presidential candidate before, during and after the 2023 General Election recommend that the 2027 Presidential ticket of the party be solely reserved for 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 continue 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 is session therefore call on the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Bola  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 party also assured its members across the country of an optimistic and bright future. They equally appreciated all forums, groups and others for the steadfast support in the 2023 General election and onwards.

It said: “Now that elections are over, the Convention in session encourages all groups to collapse their structure at the ward, local, and National levels into the already existing structure of the party.”

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