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Controversial Convention: Why LP May Not Field Candidate In Ondo, Other Elections



Except the crisis trailing the March 27 national convention of the Labour Party is quickly resolved, the party may not field any candidate in the November 16 governorship election in Ondo State, or any other subsequent elections to be conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

This is because, in the eye of the law, Labour Party has no validly elected national chairman.

Labour Party held a disputed elective national convention in Nnewi, Anambra State last week, where Julius Abure and other National Working Committee (NWC) members were elected.

The Electoral Act gives the party’s National Chairman and Secretary, the power to sign every correspondence with INEC, including nomination forms of candidates for elections.

Section 29 of the Electoral Act, says every political party shall, “submit to the commission, in the prescribed forms, the list of the candidates the party proposes to sponsor at the elections, who must have emerged from valid primaries conducted by the political party.”# INEC gave political parties wishing to field candidate in the November 16 Ondo governorship between April 1 to 27, to conduct primaries and between April 29 and May 20, to submit list of nomieach other.

At some point, even the presidential candidate of the party, Alhaji Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and some of his close allies were sacked from the party.

The factions are doing everything possible to safeguard the interests of the those behind them.

While the faction opposed to Kwankwaso had told the world that the Governor of the Kano State, Abba Kabir Yusuf, was not a member of the NNPP, the Kwankwaso loyalists have accused them of being used by the APC to destabilise the party.

These opposing forces contending for the structure of the party appear as if they were designed to keep the party and its members busy squabbling without a plan for the future.

However, the APC has distanced itself from the allegations of decimating other political parties, insisting that it was not responsible for the crisis in those political parties.

National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Felix Morka, who defended the party yesterday, said there was no basis for anybody to say so or believe so since the parties were not decimated.

Morka also argued that the allegations should be tied to names or group. “I don’t understand. There is no context to your question; who is making the allegation; what is the basis of the allegation: and are the parties mentioned decimated? Morka queried. soul of the LP came shortly after its National Convention held at Nnewi, Anambra State.

At the said convention, Abure was re- elected as the National Chairman but the victory was short lived as the forces against him showed up almost immediately.

At the last check, the Lamidi Apapa faction of the party and the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had jointly rejected the outcome of the convention. Similarly, the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC) has rejected the outcome of the convention, on the excuse that it did not monitor the exercise because the LP did not inform it of the change in venue. The Board of Trustees ( BoT) of the party has reportedly taking over the running of the party.

But the NWC of the party insist that the party has not had any Board of Trustees since its inception in 2002. The case of the NNPP is not different as the party became factionalised shortly after the 2023 General Election.

The leadership tussle is between the National Working Committee (NWC) led by Alhaji Abbah Kawu and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the party, Dr. Temitope Aluko.

These two factions had taken turns in suspending and expelling nated candidates.

Apart from failing to meet the needs of its stakeholders, the convention was not monitored by INEC, in accordance with the Electoral Act, 2022.

Section 82 (2) of the Act, said INEC “may, with or without prior notice to the political party attend and observe any convention, congress, conference or meeting, which is convened by a political party for the purpose of: (a) electing members of its executive committees or other governing bodies…” Subsection (3) also states that, “The election of members of the executive committee or other governing body of a political party, including the election to fill a vacant position in any of the aforesaid bodies, shall be conducted in a democratic manner and allowing for all members of the party or duly elected delegates to vote in support of a candidate of their choice.”

There were protests by some members of the party, including the Political Commission of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), that no congresses were conducted for the purpose of electing party delegates to the convention. In the 2019 general election, INEC disqualified all the governorship, as well as the National and House of Assembly candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC), for invalid nomination.

Then INEC’s acting secretary, Okechukwu Ndache, in a memo to the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, said the party conducted its primaries for the election of candidates for the 2019 election, outside the timeframe allowed by the Electoral Act. Said Ndache, “…report received from our office in Zamfafa State shows that no primaries were conducted by your party in the state, notwithstanding that our officials were fully mobilised and deployed.

“For clarity, our position is that the APC will not be fielding candidates for the governorship, National Assembly and State Assembly elections in Zamfara State for the 2019 general elections.”

Mary Nkem, Director, Voter Education and Publicity of INEC, admitted in telephone interview with Sunday Telegraph, that INEC did not monitor the Labour Party convention. she said: “INEC did not monitor the convention. That is what I can tell you now.”

When asked why the commission was absent and whether its failure to monitor the convention invalidated the election of the party’s national officers, Nkem said it was not within her powers to determine that, but promised to find out from the election monitoring department why it didn’t monitor the convention. However, Labour Party said it gave the electoral