ColumnsNigeria ElectionsOpinion2023: Labour Party, Peter Obi and the Nigerian Public

There is absolutely no doubt that Peter Obi the candidate of Labour Party is the most talked-about presidential candidate in the 2023 General Election in Nigeria. It would appear that the most suitable conversation about 2023 centres on Peter Obi and Labour Party. Many supporters of PDP and APC have been giving unsolicited advice to Obi’s growing support base on social media, on how to behave well while supporting Obi. Some say Obi’s supporters should take it easy because in the end, it will be a wasted effort, while others say that 2023 is still squarely between APC and PDP.

In response, Obi’s supporters insist that they are willing to ‘waste their votes’ on Obi in 2023. The reality is; that there is apparently an ongoing ‘bloodless coup’ by the Nigerian public to take back their country. Hence this might not be about Peter Obi. For good or bad reasons, the people, it would appear, want something different and it is not going to be uncontested by the traditional order.

A few days ago, the report of faction in Labour Party received wide publication and was gladly shared by those who think Peter Obi/Labour Party has no chance. Perhaps, they feel obligated to spread the report that suggests that Obi has no real chance at the polls. So many news sources without a simple verification went on to publish the news report which has now died a natural death. Fact is, a faction can only exist in a political party if the Independent National Electoral Commission – INEC recognizes it based on court proceedings.

Lawyer and Political Adviser to Labour Party for nearly a decade has reacted to the claims of faction in Labour Party, describing it as ‘criminal claims’. The claim by Callistus Okafor of being a Zonal Chairman of Labour Party and recently the substantive National Chairman is not only infantile, delusional but absolutely and outrightly criminal… the details of Callistus Okafor’s expulsion from Labour Party is in the custody of INEC’. Nwosu further insists that Mr. Okafor risks a jail term if he continues to distract the party. A certified copy of the report of Labour Party National Executive Convention showed that Callistus Okafor and others were expelled from the party in 2019.

Similarly, the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress – NLC has reacted to insinuations of factions in Labour Party in a three-page press statement. The NLC leader stated unequivocally thus, “The point is that Labour Party is what the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress says it is. The leadership of NLC and TUC recognize the leadership of the Labour Party led by Barr. Julius Abure.”

Although Jude Ezenwafor has since withdrawn as Labour Party factional presidential candidate, yet, his withdrawal did not receive as much publicity as his acclaimed emergence. The puzzle then remains, if Peter Obi is not a serious candidate and Labour Party is too small to successfully pursue a presidential campaign, why is Peter Obi and Labour Party at the centre of all conversations about who becomes Nigeria’s next president?

We might recall that this was the mood in 2014 when the PDP was disowned by the Nigerian public and completely decimated both online and offline by millions of Nigerians who felt they have had enough of PDP’s excesses and blatant disappointments. It was then like a sweeping wave. This was what the APC rod on to win the 2015 General Election.

Today, apparently, we are back to that wave again. Millions of Nigerians are tired of the APC already after its very poor performance in the past 8 years and the PDP does not appear as a better alternative. If scaled, Peter Obi the candidate of Labour Party has more going for him than Gen. Buhari had in 2015. This is not to sound overly optimistic, but there is a real chance for Peter Obi and Labour Party. If there is sufficient fund mobilized to finance Peter Obi’s presidential aspiration in 2023, the next thing will be for Labour Party to rely on Obi’s support base to build its structure across the country. When done in the next eight months, no one can honestly dismiss Labour Party’s stake in 2023.


Ebuka Onyekwelu (Staff Writer)
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