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March 23, 2024

Labour Party: Common Things that tie Obi and Buhari, by Emmanuel Aziken

Labour Party: Common Things that tie Obi and Buhari, by Emmanuel Aziken

The amusing tug-of-war between the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC and the leadership of the Labour Party, LP is undoubtedly one that enamoured supporters of President Bola Tinubu must find very interesting.

The reason why the BATists will be encouraging this crisis is simple: NLC and the Labour Party are potentially the remaining hindrances to the political hegemony of the ruling party.

It is, however, a distraction for the NLC which ordinarily at this time should be focused on addressing the prevailing deterioration in the welfare circumstances of the working class.

The fight between the NLC and the Julius Abure-led leadership of Labour Party has been brewing for some time. It is a fight primarily focused on who should control the Labour Party.

The NLC insists that the Labour Party is an offshoot of the labour centre and that given the multifarious crises around Abure, it ought to take over control of the party.

Abure, however, demurs. The face-off led to the invasion of the Labour Party headquarters in Abuja last Wednesday.

How the All Progressives Congress, APC failed to take advantage of the situation by staging the arrest of Comrade Ajaero and Mr Abure for causing public disturbance in the federal capital beggars belief.

Readers would recall that the two men were recently at the centre of controversy after they were embroiled in fisticuffs with security agencies.

Ajaero was pummelled and his face disfigured just before the Imo State governorship election last November in Owerri. The attack on Ajaero cast in the dark silhouette of the Imo State governorship election was an unprecedented attack that significantly diminished the reputation of the NLC.

Abure on his part was only last month molested by policemen in Benin City who bundled him to the ground in a humiliating experience just before the Labour Party primary election in Edo State.

Whatever, Abure and Ajaero, despite their leading roles in the Labour Party and the NLC have apparently not been able to weave their ideas into a common thread to winnow at the underbelly of the ruling government.

The fact that organised Labour acted as a facilitator in birthing the Labour Party is a fact that can hardly be opposed by facts on the ground.

Two of the eminent promoters of the political party were themselves two of the foremost leaders of the NLC, the late Comrade Paschal Bafyau and Senator Adams Oshiomhole.

According to facts projected by the immediate past president of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, Comrade Bafyau was given the task of pushing forward the formation of a political party to project and protect the interest of the working class. First conceived as the Social Democratic Party, SDP, it subsequently transformed into Labour Party during the leadership of the NLC by Oshiomhole.

But that is about the farthest that the NLC did in projecting the political scope of the political party it founded. Bafyau who died in 2012 and is best remembered for betraying the hope of the democratic class during the June 12, 1993 imbroglio, died as a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

Oshiomhole on his part could have well projected the ideals of the Labour Party by the time he was about starting his transformation from labour activist to political actor.

However, the labour leader shaped himself into the political configuration that was at that time being stoked in Edo State by Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu who though in the PDP plotted the emergence of Comrade Oshiomhole as the Action Congress, AC governorship candidate. Ize-Iyamu subsequently worked from the background to ensure Oshiomhole won the governorship election, albeit through the courts.

Frank Kokori who was the secretary-general of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG at the time of the June 12 crisis in 1993 won the popular approval of the masses, unlike Bafyau.

But that did not mean that he would join the Labour Party as he ended up in several opposition parties before ending in the APC.

Peter Esele, a former president of the Trade Union Congress, TUC has similarly found political space in the APC.

It is remarkable that virtually all those who have come out from the ranks of the labour movement to join the political fray have turned their back on Labour Party.

It was as such no surprise that those who were left to manage the party as with many other mushroom political parties used it to trade.

That was until the advent of Peter Obi in 2022 and suddenly the party transformed itself and became a major threat to the existing political formations in the country.

Whether Abure profited from the surge that came with the Obidient phenomenon has been the subject of much debate among his critics.

What is, however, troubling in the midst of all the contentions within the Labour Party is the loud silence by Obi on the issues.

It is the belief of many that Obi’s failure to stamp his authority on the contentions in the Labour Party mae him a weakling in the form of Muhammadu Buhari who has a famed notoriety for not calling subordinates to order.

Obi failed to call a meeting of Labour Party National Assembly members to charge them to differentiate themselves on the N160m imported SUVs.

Apart from some flashes of rebellion from the likes of Senator Tony Nwoye, Labour lawmakers have also failed to make an impact as an opposition.

Some who have worked with Obi claim that like Buhari he is only after his personal political objectives. If it is true, he must know that he needs a party to push through his ideas. He cannot afford to sit back and allow the party he brought into reckoning be devoured by wolves.