By Chidi Ebere
It is usually said that history has a way of repeating itself. It has been proved over and over that politicians hardly learn from the experiences of others or events before their time.
Information has filtered through that the Imo State chapter of Labour Party has got a serious matter to contend with in the choice of its governorship standard bearer. If no effort is made to nip the challenge in the bud, there are strong chances that what happened in Imo chapter of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, in 2018/2019, may repeat itself here if facts emanating from the LP are anything to go by.
Today, the APGA in Imo is a shadow of its former self and is struggling to find its feet. It became a victim of greed when it saw numerous candidates vying for same position and adopting the economic principle of demand and supply, it raised the governorship fee for aspirants to eliminate those who cannot afford the high price.
At the end, the party smiled to the banks while the aspirants gnashed their teeth in regret as the party allowed the ticket to be hijacked at the highest bidder by a candidate who was never a party member and who had many questions to answer.
It is a known fact that huge financial war chest is needed to run a political party at the state level but it should also be understood that exploiting the party’s candidate for such purposes portends an inherent risk that can collapse that party.
It has been reported that the sum of N25m was staked for all aspirants wishing to vie for governorship as cost of Expression of Interest Form. This has been described as killing for a party that is just making waves and warming itself into the hearts of the people.
Certainly, this runs foul of Peter Obi’s political philosophy, slogan and dream of a new Nigeria anchored in prudent management of resources as well fiscal discipline.
This has not gone down well with many, majority of who are not speaking out publicly on the issue. Some lines sighted in a petition made out by a group dissatisfied with the development ran thus:
“Whereas we the Obidients see ourselves as the main drivers and backers of Mr. Peter Obi, and therefore critical stakeholders, we cannot stand by and watch the hard earned movement scuttled by few insensitive officials
“Whereas the exercise of rushed sales of gubernatorial form by the Labour Party is aimed to accrue and line their pockets as much as possible before Mr. Peter Obi can emerge as president-elect and wade into the party’s nefarious activities, knowing that at present, his hands are tied with the ongoing hectic presidential campaign
“We the entire support groups, interested parties-especially the youths, stand together, in condemnation of this evil and malevolent act. We, by this petition, demand that the sales of gubernatorial forms should halt immediately until we have completed the process of presidential election.
“Conversely, we shall mobilize, occupy, scuttle, and reset the Labour Party to their default position in all states, all local government areas and even in all wards. And this petition shall be followed by a world press conference to expose the evil and their doers’’
The last paragraph above is exactly what happened to APGA which caused the aspirants to leave in droves and brought the party to its knees. Can LP afford the cost of these consequences as a third force seeking to assert a leading position among others? Would it not erode the modest success it has acquired so far at the just concluded presidential and national assembly elections?
It is expected by now that the state office and indeed all other members should by now have acquired the philosophy of its leader whose modest life style abhors all manner of exploitation. Obi is always seeking balance, equity, fairness and a level playing ground in all he does.
It is imperative to state it clearly that Obi has fought and has continued to fight inequity and injustice. It is dangerous and hypocritical to find the same vice he is fighting outside within his own circle, in this instance, LP. That will amount to misrepresenting him.
Seeking to use money to whittle down the number of aspirants may rub the party of its best hand if that is the purpose. Labour Party is widely acclaimed as the winner of the just concluded election and it is too early in the day to start having squabbles within its fold especially in Imo State that is in dire need of resetting the leadership of the state.
Imo people have suffered terribly with huge human and material resources wasted. The potentials in the state are at sub-optimal levels. The other two major parties have been reckoned to have failed the people and a redeemer is needed. If this issue is not tactfully and maturely handled the LP may be missing in this redemption role.
The huge implication is, if this faulty foundation of making money to be the guiding principle of LP, the Obi mantra built on character, competence and capacity, will flop and our collective survival must have suffered a severe setback.