“Those that win elections today are majorly people with baggage. Labour Party never stole any money from our common resources…”
Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Labour Party (LP) chairman, Abdulkadir Abdulsalam, speaks on the chances of the party ahead of the 2019 general elections. He argued that money politics has made it possible for persons with baggage to win elections in Nigeria.
Has peace returned to the fold of Labour Party now?
There has not been crisis in Labour Party. What people saw was pseudo crisis and self-imagined crisis. There has been beehive of activities at the national secretariat of this party. We have conducted our primaries and submitted all our nominations for the National Assembly and the presidential elections to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Our presence is felt in every aspect of the current electoral process. To say the least, we are on course. We have some rabble-rousers involved in anti-party activities that have been suspended by the National Executive Committee (NEC). They are the people sponsored by the opposition party jittery of our pedigree and success in the upcoming elections. The summary is that we have no crisis in the Labour Party.
How do you feel seeing the ‘rabble-rousers’ accuse you of embezzlement and fraud?
In a political party, we have platform to resolve any allegation of embezzlement or crisis. No responsible loyal party member or official will go public to announce that his/ her party will not be fielding any candidate. Their actions proved that they are either political jobbers or agents of other political parties.
I assure you that there is no crisis in the real Labour Party. We are not joining issues with them because some of them recently confessed that they have discovered that the allegations are not true representation of the situation in the party.
We did not want to make them popular and feel important by joining issues with them. We will not bother about them, knowing our focus, vision and target. The preparations for the 2019 general elections have been going on seamlessly.
They are people of no consequence, otherwise, what are their constituencies; ask Calistus Okafor the same question? And he knows that he was an errand boy in Lagos. Ask Ebere Ifendu her constituency and whether she can win it in her home state, Abia?
We don’t care about them because they constitute nuisance and we can describe their exit as good riddance to bad rubbish. Even if you want to look at the crisis, you should understand that no political party is crisis-free. The difference is how the crisis is managed, handled and resolved.
Can you itemise the challenges Labour Party had or may encounter preparing for the 2019 general elections?
I can conveniently tell you that we don’t have problem because we are prepared for it. We went through our constitution to prepare for the primaries for our presidential aspirants and National Assembly in every state of the federation.
We have submitted the forms of the candidates in the 36 states of the federation to INEC. We are about to submit the governorship candidates forms to INEC. We are not facing any serious challenge. The aspirants did not also face any challenge because our expression of interest and nomination forms is very cheap. The aspirants confessed that our forms are far much cheaper than other political parties. They could not complain of much challenge.
We gave waivers to the newcomers depending on their dispositions. We ensured that aspirants don’t just pick our form because they were rejected by other parties.
How much of a threat is the Zenith Labour Party to your party?
We don’t even know that they exist. Some states are already calling them Zero Labour Party. What influence have they been able to make? It was ridiculous hearing one of them announced recently that the party is comfortable with the owner of Accord Party joining them. The question they should answer is, where is the secretariat of the new party? We even need to investigate the registration of the party. In which part of the world do we have an acronym attached to Labour Party?
In Israel, Great Britain, it is always Labour Party except in Nigeria where we duplicate things. We are not aware of the existence of Zenith Labour Party but Zero Labour Party.
How can Zenith Labour Party with Olusegun Mimiko be inconsequential?
Mimiko was here and wants to take over the party structure but we resisted it. He has been moving from one party to another which does not portray him as a responsible politician. He is a nomadic politician, grazing from one end to the other. His membership of Zenith Labour Party does not bother us at all. The exit of Mimiko was good riddance to bad rubbish. We have enough prominent personalities in our party and they have shown interest from the presidential to the legislative elections. Of what importance is Mimiko even in Ondo State?
He cannot make any headway because the Ondo people are wiser and responsible people who cannot be used anyhow by any individual.
Is Labour Party ready for the 2019 general elections?
I earlier said that we are ready and on course. We are on the move and we have hit the ground running, we are set to go and we will make it. The problem we have in contesting elections in Nigeria is not the acceptability of the party but the party in power. Nigerians don’t want to build party to stardom, they prefer the party I can call ‘food is ready’ and ‘already made’. Many Nigerians are nomadic politicians ready to leave a party at the slightest provocation. There is no basis for ideology, programme and manifesto. There is no politician that wants to use a party platform who will ask about the party’s manifesto. Nigerian politicians don’t bloody care about party manifesto. In that regard, they can move from one party to the other.
But you have also not been able to nurture Labour Party to be among the five biggest political parties in Nigeria. So what is happening?
People usually want to cause confusion. Before now, the party was in the marketplace, today we are in a serene atmosphere. That is an achievement in itself. We have produced members of the House of Representatives and a senator who defected to the APC and he is even a crisis-ridden person in the APC.
Before now, we have never fielded a presidential candidate but we have done that for the 2019 general elections. We are moving forward and nobody can say that the Labour Party is not moving forward. We are yet to conduct the 2019 general elections to ascertain the number of elective positions we will get.
It is wrong to judge us with the past elections. I took over the mantle of leadership in 2014 and the nomination of candidates for the 2015 general elections had been conducted at the time.
We participated in all the staggered elections but could not win any. In Osun, our candidate tried his best but could not win because he has no money. In Kogi, the former deputy governor contested on our platform, but could not win because he has no money. In Ekiti, the person who contested on our platform was a former civil servant, but could not win because of money. Those that won the staggered elections are either the APC or the PDP. PDP used our stolen commonwealth for 16 years while the APC is using our collective fund to rig elections. If there is balance and equitable distribution of the resources, many parties will produce governors.
But as it is in Nigeria today, it is impossible for smaller parties to win because the two parties use state resources to manipulate things and win elections by rigging massively. We all saw how it played out in Osun State recently. My submission, which is the stark reality, does not mean that Labour Party has given up winning the 2019 general elections. But as I earlier said, we have submitted the candidates
for all the elective positions in the 2019 general elections. We will participate and do the best we could. In politics, you cannot win the election before they are conducted. Before one talks of 2019 target, one has to be sure of the resources. It is not even easy to pay for the agents during elections. Parties spend as high as N15,000 to N20,000 on an agent.
Money has so much influence in Nigeria politics. It has been monetised and unless you have it in abundance, you won’t make any headway. Even when credible people, people that have no baggage contest, they won’t win because they have no money. Those that win elections today are majorly people with baggage. Labour Party never stole any money from our common resources, but we will try our best to emerge victorious among all of them.
Some are already saying that 2019 election is pregnant with some uncertainties. What do you think?
Politics is full of uncertainties the world over. Look at small Gambia, the former president never imagined he would lose the election. There was also uncertainty when a young man emerged winner in France.
What is your take on the legality or otherwise of your tenure which appears to have been extended?
We don’t do things here off hand. We do things based on our guidelines and constitution. When Dan Nwanyanwu was here, we extended his tenure for over one year. My tenure expired this year, precisely October 11, but after our NEC meeting on October 9, the entire NEC members agreed to extend it by one year.
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Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump – CAN fumes
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s revelation of his conversation with United States President, Donald Trump, on the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, saying President Buhari was economical with the truth.
President Buhari had on Tuesday, revealed that at the heat of the bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, the United States President, Donald Trump, unequivocally accused him of killing Christians.
Buhari said these in his closing remarks at the two-day ministerial performance review retreat held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.
At a point, the President digressed from his prepared speech and narrated his encounter with Trump on the bloody clashes.
He said he managed to explain to the American leader that the clashes were not about ethnicity or religion.
He said, “I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of United States invited.
“When I was in his office, only myself and himself, only God is my witness, he looked at me in the face, and asked, ‘Why are you killing Christians?’
“I wonder, if you were the person, how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion, so I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and farmers, I know is older than me not to talk of him. I think I am a couple of years older than him.
“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any root, to your water point, then they will follow it. It doesn’t matter whose farm it is.
“The First Republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle route where they used meager resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department.
“So, any cattle rearers that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm would be arrested, taken before the court. The farmer would be called to submit his bill and if he couldn’t pay, the cattle would be sold, but subsequent leaders, the VVIPs (very important persons) encroached on the cattle routes. They took over the cattle rearing areas.
“So, I tried and explained to him (Trump) that this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing.”
However, CAN’s Vice President and Chairman of the association in Kaduna State, John Hayab, was not impressed with Buhari’s submission, saying “Buhari and his government will never stop from amusing us with their tales by moonlight because what is happening in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Birnin Gwari, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau and others cannot be described as a cultural thing.
He told Punch correspondent in an interview: “President Buhari’s weak story about his conversation with President Donald Trump further confirms why his government does not care about the killings in our country by calling them cultural things.
“Just this (Tuesday) evening, I received a report from the Kaduna Baptist Conference President about the number of their members that have been killed by bandits in Kaduna State from January 2020 to date to be 105 and our President will call it a cultural thing? All we can say is may God save our Nigeria.”
CAMA: Bishop blasts Christian lawmakers
The Catholic Bishop of Nsukka, Most Rev. Godfrey Onah, has blamed Christians in the National Assembly (NASS), for the passage of the 2020 Companies and Allied Matters Bill (CAMA), signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari recently.
Bishop Onah, said in a remark during the Sunday Mass that if Christians in NASS had opposed the bill, it would not have been passed into law.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Aug. 7, signed the CAMA bill into law, giving provision for religious bodies and charity organizations to be regulated by the registrar of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and a supervising minister.
“The question many Christians have been asking is, where were Christian legislators during the debate of this bill and its passage in the National Assembly?
“Because, if they had opposed this bill on the floor of the house, it would not have been passed and sent to the president for assent.
“I blame Christian legislators for doing nothing and allowing the passage of the 2020 CAMA Act,” he said.
“When I say that Christians are too divided and too selfish, don’t forget that the second in command in this country is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a professor of Law and a pastor.”
Onah, however, wondered what the Federal Government wanted to achieve in monitoring how the finances of churches in the country are managed when it contributed no dime to the church, NAN reports.
“Government should focus and monitor its ministries, agencies and other government institutions where it budgets billions of Naira annually and not church offerings.
“Had it been that the government gave allocations to churches and decided to monitor its usage, nobody will question the government,” he said.
Nigerians spit fire over fuel, electricity prices hike
Anger and condemnations, across the country, have continued to trail last week’s take off, of new increases in pump price of petroleum products and electricity tariffs, as directed by Federal Government.
Recall that the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) official, D.O. Abalaka announced on Wednesday September 3, on behalf of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that the new price of petroleum is now N151.56k per litre instead of N149 – N150 per litre which it was previously.
The new electricity tariff which the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) tagged “Service Reflective Tariff” has also come into effect. It requires consumers to pay N53.87 – N66.422 per kwh of electricity.
Outraged consumers of fuel and electricity have therefore warned government to get ready for collision with the masses if it fails to rescind these new prices.
Those who have expressed outrage over the new prices regimes include, the Organized Labour, Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Nigerian main opposition political party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) and the Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN).
Others are: Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce (NACCIMA).
The NLC said, “The frequent fuel price increase will no longer be accepted. We will not allow Nigerians fall victim of government ineptitude and negligence to make the country self-sufficient in terms of refining petroleum products at home.”
On its part, the PDP has described the price hike as “callous, cruel and punishing” and demanded an immediate reversal to avert a national crisis.
The All Industrial Global sees the incessant increase as a confirmation that deregulation means just price increase.
“This is unacceptable! Under a pandemic, we should put money in the pockets of citizens to revive collapsed livelihoods and preserve lives.” In its reaction, NECA said it has always urged Federal Government to adopt deregulation policy in the oil and gas downstream sector.
The MOMAN in its statement insists that monthly price variation of fuel was no longer sustainable. It urged PPRA to adopt quarterly price mechanism which would save the market the hassles of price volatility. The statements by IPMAN and NACCIMA also followed along the same line that the hike “…serves only to increase the severity and duration of the looming economic recession.”
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