The crisis rocking the Labour Party (LP) may soon be a thing of the past as its presidential candidate at February 25 national Mr. Peter Obi has reached out to some of the principal actors to sheathe their swords.
The acting National Chairman of the party, Mr. Lamidi Bashir Apapa, has also debunked speculations that he was being sponsored by the All-Progressives Congress (APC) to hijack the party’s leadership and withdraw its petition before the presidential election petition tribunal.
He declared that as a founding member of the party, there was no way he could betray the party or its presidential candidate, Obi.
However, the 36 state chairmen have insisted that the embattled National Chairman, Julius Abure, who was sacked by the court remains the substantive National Chairman of the party.
But Apapa has insisted that only the court can reinstate Abure.
Following the fears that the crisis could affect the party’s election petition, THISDAY gathered that Obi will for the first time intervene to resolve the differences between the warring factions to prevent external elements from infiltrating the party.
Obi’s aloofness from issues concerning the running of the Labour Party is believed to be responsible for the lingering crisis which started in July 2022.
“Obi didn’t want to be caught in the crossfire, especially when his eyes were fixed on winning the presidential election. He didn’t want to get involved in an internal party crisis”, a member of the party’s NEC told THISDAY.
He said with the current circumstances, Obi “is already in talks with both factions of the party to address the situation and allow for a smooth running of the party’s affairs. This period is critical, he will not allow things to get out of hand.”
According to him, Obi has reached out to the warring factions and prevailed on them not to escalate the crisis.
Acting Chairman Denies Being Sponsored by APC
Meanwhile, the acting chairman of the party, Apapa has debunked the speculations that he was being sponsored by the APC to frustrate Obi and his petition at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
Apapa said he took over the affairs of the party to avoid a vacuum.
Apapa said he and other members of the party’s NWC, were not out “to witch-hunt anyone but to work in line with the provisions of the law.
He explained that they didn’t want to engage in illegality.
“If a leader of a party has been accused of forgery, it’s incumbent on us to do what is needed so that all of us would not be regarded as such. We are in charge because we want things to be done the right way,” he added.
Speaking with THISDAY in an exclusive interview yesterday, Apapa said they “became annoyed when an Abuja High Court ruled that Abure, the national secretary, and one other officer who were signatories to the party’s account should not parade themselves as officials of the party because of the offence of forgery and perjury”.
“There was no limitation to that order and we cannot allow a vacuum. We can’t allow a vacuum when he is unable to play his role.
“We are all there in an acting capacity. If he is able to resolve his problem to vacate that order, then we have no problem. That is his first assignment,” Apapa added.
Debunking his alleged link with the ruling APC, he said, “It’s not true at all. I have no business with the APC presidential candidate. I want to tell Nigerians, if anybody has facts about that case, let them come out with them. Peter Obi is our candidate. I have been in the party for over 20 years. I am a pioneer member of the Labour Party,” Apapa explained.
Apapa said he had held several positions in the party in all of these years before he became the deputy national chairman and now the acting chairman of the party.
“I have never been in any other party apart from the Labour Party. I was among the first set of officers in the party. Why will I build a house and turn around to destroy it? I cannot. Obi is our candidate and we are prepared to do whatever is possible in his favour and the favour of the party.”
He expressed confidence that things would bounce back better and stronger for the party.
He said: “I want Nigerians to be patient. This is just a crisis that will soon be over. Labour Party being a party to beat right now, everybody is willing to join us.
“They should not be carried away because the crisis is normal in a political party. Some people are out to build while others are there to destroy. We are there to build the party, not to destroy it.”
Meanwhile, the 36 state chairmen of the Labour Party, including its youth wing, who gathered in Abuja at the party national headquarters during the weekend have maintained that Abure remains Labour Party’s national chairman.
In a communique issued by the 36 chairmen of LP across the federation, including FCT yesterday, the Chairman of the Chairmen Forum, Chief Rotimi Kehinde, said they had resolved that Abure remains the National Chairman of LP.
The chairmen condemned the action of Apapa and his group, which they said cannot stand.
The chairmen said those “who grossly violated the provision of our party’s constitution and take internal matters of the party to the court without exhausting all the appropriate instituted channels to resolving disputes and went ahead to court are by the dint of this communique directed to immediately effect withdrawal of the matter from the court and return to the path of rectitude for due process”
They recommended that a meeting of the party’s NEC should be called without further delay.