Labour Party And NLC Imbroglio: The Truth And Way Forward

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LABOUR PARTY(LP) AND NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS(NLC) IMBROGLIO: THE TRUTH AND WAY FORWARD

Innocent Sunday Okeke

The Labour Party, conceived by Nigeria’s organized labour union, was envisioned as a platform to involve both workers and non-workers in the nation’s political discourse. Its inception in 2002 marked a significant step towards democratizing participation in governance. The transition of leadership from Comrade S.O.Z Ejiofor to Barr. Dan Nwanyanwu signalled a shift towards greater efficiency and effectiveness in its operations, aiming to fulfil its intended role as a political vehicle for the masses.

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Innocent Sunday Okeke

However, the party encountered numerous hurdles along its journey. Despite its formal establishment, the core founders—the members of the labour union—failed to demonstrate the level of commitment mandated by the Nigerian constitution and electoral laws. This lack of wholehearted dedication from its originators posed a significant obstacle to the party’s growth and influence.

In the challenging landscape of Nigerian politics, financial sustenance emerged as a critical factor determining the party’s viability. The burden of financing its operations fell squarely on the shoulders of committed members who recognized the importance of their involvement. Contributions and donations from these individuals, registered within their respective wards and actively engaged in the party’s affairs, served as the lifeblood that sustained its activities.

These dedicated stakeholders, embodying the true spirit of grassroots democracy, emerged as the backbone of the Labour Party. Their unwavering support and financial contributions stood in stark contrast to a minority within the party ranks who, instead of contributing positively, caused internal disruptions and challenges.

Despite the hurdles and internal strife, the Labour Party remained a beacon of hope for those who believed in its principles and ideals. It stood as a testament to the resilience of ordinary Nigerians determined to have their voices heard in the corridors of power.

Over the past decade or more, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) members have conspicuously lacked meaningful contribution towards the growth and sustenance of the Labour Party. My personal involvement with the party dates back to 2005, spanning the tenure of Barr. Dan Nwanyanwu to the present day. Many of us devoted ourselves to the cause, even going to the extent of liquidating assets like lands and valuables to keep the party from deregistration and maintaining its relevance in Nigeria’s political landscape. Our efforts were tireless, undertaken with no expectation of reciprocal rewards from the party hierarchy.

As stated earlier, in spite of the fact that the organized labour initially registered the party, there has been a stark absence of financial commitment from their end to ensure its sustainability. Moreover, there was no mandatory requirement for their members, especially those aspiring for political positions, to align with the Labour Party at the grassroots level and contest under its banner. Instead, it became apparent that whenever members and leaders of the organized labour sought political office, they gravitated towards established parties like the APC, PDP, or others, neglecting the Labour Party entirely. Even if they were successful with other parties, they displayed no allegiance to nor provided financial backing for the activities of the Labour Party.

This unfortunate trend left a handful of dedicated party members, who still believed in its core ideology, to carry the burden of keeping the party alive throughout these years. The argument put forth by some labour leaders demanding free or minimally priced nomination forms for the public is inherently flawed. These same leaders, who are affiliated with other political parties, advocating for free forms, are being hypocritical and unjust. Such a demand fails to acknowledge the sacrifices made by committed members who have kept the party afloat through their financial and personal sacrifices.

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The ownership debate surrounding the Labour Party should not overshadow its primary purpose, which was established by the organized labour union to serve the interests of the Nigerian masses and individuals sharing similar ideologies. While I don’t intend to serve as a spokesperson for Barr. Julius Abure, his capability to defend himself against any allegations is undeniable. However, it’s essential to shift the focus to the success story of the Labour Party from its inception in 2002 under the auspices of the Nigerian labour union to the tenure of Julius Abure as Chairman, commencing in 2022. Within a span of just two years, the Labour Party underwent a remarkable transformation, evolving from a mere placeholder or transactional political entity into a formidable political force capable of securing electoral victories and poised to contend for central government leadership.

This transformation signifies a monumental shift in the political landscape, as the Labour Party transcended its previous status as a marginalized entity to emerge as a significant player in Nigerian politics. The party’s newfound success can be attributed to a variety of factors, including strategic leadership under individuals like Barr. Julius Abure, concerted efforts to broaden its appeal among the masses, and a renewed focus on grassroots mobilization and engagement.

The Labour Party’s evolution serves as a testament to the resilience and adaptability of political movements in Nigeria, demonstrating that with effective leadership, dedication, and a clear vision, even the most marginalized parties can rise to prominence and wield considerable influence on the national stage. As the party continues to grow and consolidate its position, its impact on Nigerian politics is poised to become even more profound in the years to come.

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In the collective endeavour to uplift the Labour Party and the masses, every individual plays a crucial role, and it is imperative that the labour union takes proactive steps to align itself with the Nigerian political framework. This entails actively engaging in the political process by mobilizing its members to register and contest from their respective political wards. Regrettably, as of the present moment, the labour union has yet to fulfil this essential obligation, instead becoming embroiled in disputes over ownership. The call for the constitution of the party’s Board of Trustees by the Nigerian Labour Congress, though appropriate, should never be a reason to disrupt a political party that is progressing smoothly.

The perceived conflict between the organized labour union and the leadership of the Labour Party is unwarranted, as both entities share a common goal of advocating for the welfare and rights of all Nigerians. Instead of engaging in internal disputes, it is imperative for all stakeholders to recognize the interconnectedness of their objectives and work collaboratively towards achieving meaningful progress for the nation as a whole.

By embracing unity and cooperation, the organized labour union and the Labour Party can harness their collective strength to effect positive change and address the myriad challenges facing Nigeria. It is only through concerted effort and mutual respect that they can truly fulfil their mission of advancing the interests of the Nigerian people and ushering in a brighter future for generations to come.

Chief Innocent Okeke(Duru Agumba) is the National Vice Chairman, South East, Labour party.

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