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LP is being repositioned to win 2019 general elections, says Omotoso


Dr. Mike Omotoso,

Mike Omotosho’s recent election as the National Chairman of Labour Party (LP) caused some ripples within the party hierarchy. But in this interview with ABIODUN FAGBEMI in Ilorin, he said the election has opened a new chapter of progress and development for the party.  

Some of your critics said your emergence is not good for the Labour Party
I do not share that opinion and neither do majority of my party members. Yes, there is an aggrieved minority but like in any organization that chooses to restructure and cut out mediocrity, there is tendency to contend with opposition. My emergence is an intervention to restore peace and dignity to a party that hitherto has been consumed in disunity, mismanagement, mediocrity and that is the reason why we followed due process, conducted a proper election that was monitored by INEC where I emerged as chairman. 

INEC was part of the process?
The INEC monitored the convention that brought me in as the National Chairman and it was all captured on camera in the presence of the media. It was a transparent process although some mischievous members have rumored that we forcefully took over.

It is completely untrue. I am a man of principle and that was why I followed the constitution to the letter. I do not get myself tangled in sensationalism. I have a party to restructure and bring back on its feet. I was invited to the National Working Committee (NWC) meeting where they wanted me to express my willingness to serve and discuss my vision for the party. I did and also gave a condition that though I was ready to be part of the leadership but everybody must agree to work hand-in-hand with us and must be ready to uphold the constitution of the party always and they said yes.

On that basis, I said I was ready to move ahead and that is it. Then we moved to the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, the same thing applied and then we had a National Convention and due process was followed. INEC was duly notified for 21-days, and it was present to monitor. Security agencies were present and it was a very peaceful convention.

Will this not affect the chances of the party in the forthcoming elections?
I don’t think so. Funny enough, I think people deserve to know the truth and exactly what has been happening. On the corruption and forgery charges against the past chairman we shall follow due process. The NWC has written to the Police and other law enforcement agencies to investigate the matter. We are already thinking towards 2019 and developing our strategy. I don’t think it’s going to affect the chances of the party at all.

Labour Party has a new Chairman and for that to change, due process must be followed. We will not tolerate any form of lawlessness in the party anymore. There is a new sheriff in town. We are already at work building a strong party that can bring about a revolution in these hopeless times and we will not be deterred. 

We are aware of the corruption toga on a party and the non-performance toga on another party, so this is a huge opportunity for LP to take its rightful position as the party of the people- the ordinary man and woman on the streets. We offer equal opportunities and social justice for everybody; the opportunity to be the best you can be starting from the smallest unit of society- that family.  
What are your visions for the LP?
We intend to unveil our vision and work plan in few weeks. Of course, we hope the media will give the necessary support. But first, we must give people the opportunity to know that this is their party and become part of us. Gone are the days when moneybags can hijack the party and true owners are relegated. Sincerely, governance is for the people and they deserve to take ownership. So you can say that Labour Party is back and the interest 0f the common man will reign supreme in all our steps.

What do you intend doing to make organised labour find their voice in the party?
Before now, the party has been operating like every other political party. But, it is about time we show Nigeria why we are above par, stay tuned for the New LP, watch how we evolve now and see how each organ, including the organized labour fit into the puzzle. We have ideologies, which translate to equal opportunity for everybody.

The welfare of the masses is part of our prerogative as we strive for social justice so we can continue to shout ‘Forward Ever, Backward Never.’ We seek avenues to give everyone a voice and opportunities they need to be the best they can be and that equal opportunity is what we are promising our people. We have created the Nigerian dream. We are going to roll out strategies that will allow so called ordinary people contest without the huge financial bottlenecks. We are going to give priority to women and youths. We are not just going to talk; we are going to walk the talk and we intend to take the political space in Nigeria by storm come 2019.  
Is there any plan to reconcile all aggrieved members of the party? 
Incidentally, our members are happy across the country. People have been yearning for this change. Messages of support have been coming in from individuals, groups, unions and affiliates. In any case, we are having consultative meetings to bring all aggrieved members back to team but we are also working on attitudinal change. Politics is a number’s game but then, for us it is not an all comers affair and for us as a party, you must have the ideology of equal opportunity and social justice.

Yes, we want everybody to be part of us but if your ideology does not tally with what we stand for in the LP, of course, you will not be welcomed. We are reaching out to those who ran or wanted to run under the platform but were treated unfairly or unsatisfactorily. We are reaching out to people whom we know are interested in the Nigerian Project but cannot fit into any of the existing political parties and looked away from LP because they are not able to align with the previous leadership. It is time to come back home to join hands with us to forge a way forward for our country this great party.
What would you say has been the shortcomings of the LP in getting to power?
That is exactly the narrative that we need to change. We must avoid people coming to borrow the LP as platform to run. We need people who are sincerely interested in the welfare of the people.

In the past, people come in and use the platform of the LP. However, we are already putting in place parameters to seek out people that are genuinely interested in towing the line of the ideals of the party. We want people who will work with us, build the party and not just use the platform then dump it.

That has been the problem and all that is going to change. We are not just going to sit down and wait for people that are unable to get tickets in some other political parties to come in and borrow the platform, no; we are going to work with people who are genuinely interested and believe in the ideology of the party so that we can all work together to build and entrench the structures especially in the hearts and minds of the people, that way, when they eventually win, which I believe, they will have no choice than to stay back and defend the mandate that they have been given.
What are your plans for 2019?
We are optimistic that the LP is repositioned to produce the next president of Nigeria and in a situation where we see a presidential candidate whose ideology is in sync with the ideology of LP, then we will work with the person. It’s not about forcefully taking over, it’s not about agitation, it is a movement and one that will be a revolution. We want to revamp Nigeria and the nation called Nigeria shall rise again.
How would you assess the APC government?
It is obvious that a lot of people are not happy with non-performance in critical sectors. People want things to happen faster than its happening. We cannot continue to hear good intentions because good intentions do not amount to much without efforts and real impact.

People now want to see the dividends of all of those good intentions. People want more. They may be putting in their best, but people are saying that their best is not good enough. Additionally, people need truth, Justice and accountability. We are listening and we are working to deliver these needs

How do you fund the party?
The LP belongs to the masses and we intend to fortify our ideals, integrity and values against the antics of the moneybags, so that we do not fall into the quagmire of other parties. So for now we receive funding from ordinary men and women on the streets. Imagine if a million people donated just N1000 each, it would amount to N1 billion.

However, we are not averse to bigger donors, we just won’t allow them to overrule the ideals we stand for. So please honorable moneybags are welcome to fund us. We are getting there. If you truly want to revive and revamp our country via equal opportunity and social justice, Labour Party is the place to be and people are buying into it.

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