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LP leadership crisis, another opposition party drowning 

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Alhaji Abdulkadir Abdulsalam

Labour Party (LP), arguably the second most viable opposition party in Nigeria, is currently enmeshed in leadership crisis, which definitely is weakening its ranks ahead the next general elections.
  
The LP imbroglio is coming amidst the unending crisis of leadership surrounding the national chairmanship that is currently plaguing the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). 
   
Nigerians are already expressing concern that the manner in which opposition parties are being muzzled allegedly by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) might push the country to a state of one party system as it moves towards 2019.
  
Recently, some officials of the LP claimed that they have sacked their national chairman, Alhaji Abdulkadir Abdul Salam, purportedly over highhandedness.

Besides, chairmen and secretaries of the party in the South South geo-political zone have expressed dissatisfaction over the supposed suspension of Salam and two others.

The unfortunate development was followed by yet another blow to the party, when the only member at the country’s upper legislative chamber, the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who represents Delta central senatorial district, defected to the APC.Until his defection on Tuesday, which threw the ruling party members into joyous mood, Omo-Agege was the only LP lawmaker in the Senate.

But prior to the lawmaker’s decision, the embattled Abdul Salam had accused him of stoking the crisis that led to his (Salam’s) removal, to justify his planned defection from the LP to APC.
   
A communiqué signed by some aggrieved members of the party, including Gbenga Daramola, deputy national youth leader, South-West; Lami Ahmed, deputy national woman leader, North East; Hosanna Samuel, deputy national woman leader, South South; Mrs. Olujumoke Awodeyi, deputy national woman leader, South West; and Alhaji Ali Abatcha, national deputy chairman, North; accused Abdul Salam of diverting the party’s funds into a bank account of his private company.

They claimed that since the October 11, 2014 national convention that was held in Akure, Ondo State, the affairs of the party have been mismanaged.
Although Omo-Agege denied any involvement in the party’s leadership crisis, he however tendered it as an excuse for his action while announcing his defection on the floor of the Senate, saying: “In response to the unfounded accusations, threats, and libelous allegations arising from irreconcilable divisions in the National Working Committee (NWC) and National Executive Council (NEC) of the LP and consequent legal disputes between the opposing factions, which have rendered the administration of the party ineffective and having regards to section 68(g) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), may I humbly notify Mr. Senate President and my colleagues of my decision to switch my party membership from the LP to APC.”

He added that the decision to move from the LP to APC was overwhelmingly supported by leaders and constituents of his senatorial district; and in consideration of the troubling facts of the divisions within the national leadership of LP, with Comrade Bobo Atare Adou and Alhaji Abdul Salam now simultaneously laying claim to the national chairmanship.Incidentally, the excuse given by Omo-Agege appears to be a justification of the allegation made against him by the embattled chairman of the LP.

But the senator insisted that he has nothing to do with the Leadership crisis, and that he did not in any way instigate any aggrieved member to remove the national chairman.

He disclosed that sequel to the resolutions reached by the NEC, Adou became the acting national chairman, while Akingbade Oyelekan, a lawyer emerged the acting national secretary of the party.

According to him, it was the NEC of the party, which once held sway in Ondo state under governor Olusegun Mimiko that removed the chairman. Although, the senator concurred that the approach to the crisis was grossly irresponsible and diversionary, he refused to take responsibilities or accept blame, saying: “What happened was the collective decisions taken by over 15 members of the NWC and NEC and that they only lay emphasis on poor leadership Salam offered to their party.

“Let it be very clear that Senator Omo-Agege did not instigate the division in LP. It is Alhaji Salam’s very questionable and poor leadership methods that have thrown the party into this factional crisis.”    

The senator maintained that Salam had persistently prevailed on him, before he defected from the LP to dissuade the NEC members from removing him as national chairman, which he turned down.

Omo-Agege further justified his action by saying Salam’s chairmanship was characterised with serious injustices, alleging: “LP candidates’ election petitions across the country were arbitrarily withdrawn because they could not afford to give bribes.

“Indeed, Salam once personally threatened to withdraw my election petition from the Election Tribunal in Asaba, after the 2015 general election because I refused to be blackmailed to satisfy his personal desires.”

With his defection, LP does not have any member in the Senate. Omo-Agege was sworn-in late 2015, following his victory at the tribunal, which sacked Chief Igboyota Amori of the PDP.

With this development, APC has a dominating in the Senate with 66 members, from 59 when the 8th Senate was inaugurated on the 9th of June 2015 as against 42 members for PDP from the initial 46.

Four members of the PDP had defected to the ruling party. They are: former governor of Plateau state, Joshua Dariye (Plateau); Yele Omogunwa (Ondo); Nelson Effiong (Akwa Ibom); and Andy Uba (Anambra).

Meanwhile, the chairmen and secretaries of the LP in the South South have denounced the purported suspension of Salam and two others.In a statement issued in Asaba after a meeting they described the suspension as null and void, insisting that those who championed it were already serving indefinite suspension slammed on them in May last year by the national leadership for various party breaches.

The leaders from Delta, Edo, Bayelsa, Rivers, Cross River and Akwa-Ibom states, asserted that those who orchestrated the suspension of Salam and two others were wrong as they violated relevant sections of the party’s constitution.

“Prior to the purported suspension of the top officials, Mr. Andrew Ukpebitere who spearheaded the suspension had been suspended from the party and as such lacked the powers to make such pronouncement.

“Those involved in the purported suspension of the national chairman and two others necessarily violated the constitutional provisions on such matter like they raised in their publications as article 20(A&B)/2A 2014 as amended, is clear on it,” they argued.

  
While affirming the leadership of Salam as the national chairman of the party, they contended that the suspension was intentionally crafted by those involved to create a situation of instability in the party to pave way for the hidden motives of some erstwhile members of the party.

Also, they maintained that the party does not have any issue with Omo-Agege, contrary to the defected senator’s claim before the senate, and urged him not to artificially cause disaffection in the party.

“That the chairmen and secretaries, South-South zone resolved and recommend Bobo Adoy and his cohorts should be made to face disciplinary actions, as it is our view that these ambiguities were put together by them and their master to create a situation of instability in our party,” the South South leaders of the party added.



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