It has become crystal clear that Nigerians across party lines have thrown their weight behind Peter Obi (PO), the presidential flag bearer of the Labour Party (LP) for 2023 general election to enable him clinch the number one seat of the country.
This potential decision by Nigerians is informed by their hunger for effective leadership in the country which they believe neither of the two candidates of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu respectively cannot help to actualize.
Unfortunately, Benue State that as one of the major strongholds of the LP in Nigeria is likely to fall apart owing to lack of coordination by the state and national hierarchies of the party. There is no gainsaying the fact that Benue State is instrumental in the Nigerian politics given her centrality as the Middle Belt right from the time of the legendary Joseph Sarwuan Tarka of blessed memory till date. So, it will not be an overstatement to say that any anomaly in Benue LP will impair the party nationwide.
A Chieftain of the Labour Party in Benue State who pleaded anonymity cited the litigation between Engr Benjamin Iorlumun Akaakar and Hon. Barr Herman Iorwase Hembe as of the possible causative factors for the disintegration of the party. According to him, the court case itself is not the matter of concern but the manner in which it is being handled coupled with the way Rt Hon. Hembe has been given free hand by the party’s leadership to hijack LP affairs including the ongoing court suit.
On the 22nd day of June, 2022, the LP Gubernatorial Aspirant, Engr Benjamin Iorlumun Akaakar dragged his co-contender, Rt Hon. Herman Hembe to the Federal High Court Abuja, challenging his (Hembe’s) emergence as Guber candidate of the party for 2023 general elections on the grounds of multiple nomination. The suit argued that Hembe had participated fully in the gubernatorial primary election of the APC including its rerun before he defected to LP and cunningly sued the APC for featuring him on the ballot despite his defection.
It was on the same grounds of multiple nomination that Herman Hembe was disqualified among 9 other Gubernatorial contenders in Nigeria by the New Nigeria Party, NNP, on the 4th June, 2022 as contained in the reports on the governorship screening signed by the National Secretary of the party, Dipo Olayoku. The stand of the NNP was that Hembe did not show evidence of resignation from APC among other internal requirements of the NNP that were not fulfilled. It was therefore expected that LP would follow the same steps of the NNP if they had any room for integrity and justice.
It’s essential to note that although the Akaakar’s petition with suit no. RTC/ABJ/CS/973/2022 was responded to by the defendant, Herman Hembe, and Engr Akaakar filed a counter affidavit, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the state and national levels of the Labour Party did not reply even as the plaintiff filed a counter affidavit which according to the LP Chieftain was an indication that INEC and the LP were satisfied with the plaintiff’s petition.
In spite of the silence of INEC and the LP, Hembe went ahead and hired a lawyer, claiming it was the decision of the Labour Party which was not true because the National EXCO of the party did not consent to that. It was surprising that the party’s national Chairman did not intervene in this negative development and the LP’s Legal Adviser was not authorized to do his job. Let it be known that under normal circumstances, letters for such petitions are served to the National secretariat of the party for response.
Findings however revealed that Hembe had engaged the services of his personal lawyer without the knowledge and consent of the national EXCO and responded back to Makurdi instead of Abuja. This act has been overlooked by LP at both State and National levels and consequently, LP in Benue is shaking owing to the fact that Hembe has been allowed to be a Judge in his own Court
It’s also learnt that Hembe is now running the affairs of the Benue LP in his house rather than the state secretariat. He is also making plans to reshuffle the state EXCO of the party.
In all these, the National Chairman of the Labour Party, Barr Julius Abure, has folded his hands to watch the party collapse in Benue State even as some aggrieved aspirants from other political parties are making moves to join LP which is considered as a platform for Nigerians to elect PO as the next president of Nigeria.
If Barr Abure cannot pilot the affairs of the LP successfully in order to guarantee victory for PO come 2023 general polls, it’s advisable for him to quit the position for a competent person to take over.
The earlier the shortcomings of the LP national Chairman are addressed, the better for the party and the entirety of Nigerians.