Ahead of Edo election, internal struggles in LP put 2023 gains at risk

Ahead of Edo election, internal struggles in LP put 2023 gains at risk

 interest of party members and this has badly affected the momentum the party gained in the state through the “Obidient Movement” in the build-up to the 2023 election.

It was so good for the LP in 2023 in the state that it was able to win the Edo Central senatorial seat with Neda Imaseun emerging as the winner. The party also won two House of Representatives seats with Esosa Iyawe and Osarodion Omoruyi, representing Oredo and Egor/Ikpoba Okha federal constituencies.

While the feat may have been unexpected at the beginning of 2023, the “Obidient Movement” which appealed to the youth, worked wonders for the party in the state. Most of the LP candidates did not have to spend much on the election as the masses, especially the youth, who felt left out by the more established political parties, the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress, pitched their tent with the LP.

Expected to build on the gains of 2023, the LP seems to be pressing the self-destruct button with one issue after another dragging the party backwards in an election year in the state. Though there have been discordant tunes within the party, the trouble became full-blown in the run-up to the primary election.

There was an agitation by some members of the party to have a candidate from Edo Central in line with the need to give Esan people the opportunity to taste power after the unceremonious exit of Prof. Oserhiemen Osunbor, who was sacked by the court in 2008 after spending 18 months in the saddle, to give way for Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. However, the party ticket was eventually won by a former President of the Nigeria Bar Association, Olumide Akpata (from Edo South), a new entrant who just made a foray into the murky water of politics.

Akpata’s nomination may not have gone down well with some party members, but having won the ticket, the members were expected to rally behind him. Instead, he was given a full dose of political bickering as almost every issue that went wrong in the party was ascribed to him. He had to come out with a statement to warn people peddling those unpleasant tales about him to desist, promising to take such matters to the court.

Also, a seasoned campaigner, Kenneth Imasuangbon, who lost the party’s ticket to Akpata, is still in court to contest the result of the primary election, while the Lamidi Apapa-led faction of the party was also on hand to rock the boat and compound the problem by producing another candidate. However, the faction’s resolve seems to have fizzled out.

As if these problems were not enough, the youth leader of the party in the state, Ken Imusi, with other youths, took over the party secretariat at Ogbelaka on May 9, announcing the dissolution of the state party exco. It was a surprise move by the youth leader, who was arrested alongside the National Chairman of the party, Julius Abure and the State Chairman, Kelly Ogbaloi by the Nigeria Police, Zone 5 on February 21, over a petition in a case of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit dangerous harm.

Imusi told The PUNCH that the state exco was not interested in building the party, hence the need to dissolve it and chart a new course for the party.

He said, “I, Ken Imusi, is now the acting chairman of the Labour Party in Edo State and the exco has been dissolved. The former exco is not interested in building the party. The party is supposed to be for the masses but it is obvious that moneybags have hijacked the party.

“A certain aspirant spent thousands of dollars during the primary election. This is not the LP of our dream, so the exco has to be dissolved. We have a three-man committee from the state to the ward level that will conduct free and fair congresses. We are only waiting for ratification by the national body to announce the date for a new congress.”

Imusi has since gone under, claiming that some people in the party were after his life because of his stance to move it in a better direction.

Ogbaloi, however, said he remained the substantive chairman of the party and that the state exco remained. He stated that the grievances of the youth leader and his group would be looked into and resolved to bring unity back to the party.

He said, “The youth leader cannot take over as the chairman. I, Kelly Ogbaloi, remain the substantive chairman of the LP in Edo State, the state executive council remains intact and it has not been dissolved. The legal competence to dissolve a state exco lies in the National Working Committee of the party.

“This is a critical time in the electioneering process and that is why I said we will find a solution and not pursue issues that can disintegrate the party. This is an important time for us as a party and we must unite ahead of the election,” Ogbaloi added.

However, the mess took a new dimension as the relationship between former ally, Ogbaloi and Abure became strained. There was news that the national chairman of the party was bent on dissolving the state exco, despite a gentlemanly agreement at the re-election of Abure as national chairman in Anambra State on March 27, 2024, that Ogbaloi and his team should be allowed to stay till after the election.

In an attempt to outsmart Abure, the state exco ratified the suspension of the national chairman by his Ward 3 in Arue-Uromi, in Esan North-East Local Government Area of Edo State, for alleged high-handedness and anti-party activities.

A letter of suspension dated May 14, 2024, and another letter of ratification dated May 15, 2024, both of which were ratified at a meeting of the state executive committee on May 25, 2024, in Benin, stated that the suspension is with immediate effect and advised Abure to restrain from holding out or parading himself as a member of the Labour Party, Ward 3, Arue, Uromi in Ean North-East LGA, Edo State.

The national leadership of the party, however, rejected Abure’s suspension and wielded the big stick by dissolving the Ogbaloi-led exco on May 27. On the same day, the NWC constituted a 17-man caretaker committee to oversee the running of the party in the state.

Ogbaloi told The PUNCH that due process was not followed in the dissolution of the state exco, alleging that the suspended national chairman of the party, Abure, was behind the crises rocking the party in the state.

Ogbaloi said he was not aware that there had been a change in the leadership of the party in the state, noting that his exco remained committed to working with the party candidate, Akpata, to emerge victorious at the September 21 poll.

He said, “We have a situation in the state now as created by the former national chairman of the party, Julius Abure. You know that a member of an association can claim to be an officer of that organisation only if he is a member. As of today, Abure is no longer a member of the party, having been removed as a member from his ward in Uromi.

“Having said that, the National Working Committee, along with the national chairman, has the right to dissolve a state exco and the right to check the tenure of an exco that has expired or not. But in doing this, there must be due process, which entails that the NWC must have a meeting to discuss the issue after which a position is taken.

“I am asking the NWC and the former chairman to present the minutes of the meeting where the decision was taken that the state executive council in Edo State should be dissolved. There is nothing like that, I think.

“The understanding the previous time was that because there is an election in Edo State, the normal legal congresses should be put on hold till after the election. So, at what time did that now change to give the former chairman the power to unilaterally dissolve the state exco?”

However, the 17-man committee set up to coordinate the affairs of the party in the state and headed by Elizabeth Ativie, a former Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, had the backing of Iyawe and Omoruyi, the federal lawmakers, who were present at the inauguration of the new exco.

Ativie, after the inauguration, promised to move the party to a higher level in the state, vowing to constitute a team to reconcile all aggrieved parties in the party.

However, her efforts at reconciliation seem to have failed as the incident at the stakeholders’ meeting hosted by the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, on May 28, suggested. Ogbaloi and Ativie were present at the venue and they both introduced themselves as the chairman of the party in the state, to the amazement of other people at the meeting.

Ogbaloi and his team were not done yet, as Ativie was suspended on June 1 over alleged gross misconduct and insubordination. The decision was taken at an enlarged meeting of the State Working Committee which was attended by local government chairmen and secretaries of the party.

At the meeting, the chairman of the LP in Ativie’s Uhunmwonde Local Government, Aghedo Okhiongbamwonyi, said the leadership of Ativie’s ward 4 had handed out the suspension.

He then presented a letter dated May 4, 2024, which conveyed Ativie’s suspension to the leadership of LP in the local government.

The letter was endorsed by Charles Usiesefe and Mike Ighile, the ward chairman and secretary respectively and, in the letter, the party leadership cautioned Ativie to restrain from holding out or parading herself as a member of the LP.

Responding, Ativie said she remained the authentic state chairman of the party and was not aware of any meeting suspending her.

She said, “They should know that by the constitution of the Labour Party, no ward or local government chairman has the authority to suspend anybody or the chairman. It is dead on arrival, I am the current state Labour Party chairman in Edo State.”

Speaking on the development in the state chapter of the party, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Obiorah Ifoh, told The PUNCH the party was aware of what is going on in Edo State and would come out with a statement soon to address the situation.

He said, “The party is already working on that and very soon, it will come out with a statement to ensure that everything is fine and the party is moving ahead towards winning the election with a united front.

“Tell me, which of the other two parties does not have their internal crises. Politics is all about contestation and the ability to resolve those crises. We are all working towards resolving the crises. I can assure you that the followership we have in Edo and every other place is organic, they have nothing to do with who is the leader of the party in the states.

“It is about the candidate who is a good choice and every Edo person is backing him to become the governor. The most important thing is that we have a candidate and we are supporting the candidate to emerge as governor in the election.”

However, with all the warring factions still unwilling to sheath their swords but continuing to engage in blame games, the next few weeks are crucial in the direction the party will move as the election draws near.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

copyright 2020, Africa Giant news Magazine || Contact: info.africagiantnews.com.ng
error

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)