The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Thursday disowned one Calistus Okafor who claimed to be factional Presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP).
President of the congress, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, in a statement said both NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) recognised the primary that held in Asaba Delta state which produced Peter Obi as its candidate.
Comrade Wabba urged Nigerians to disregard what he described as ‘the recruitment of one Calistus Okafor, a mischievous petty trader, to advance their evil plot of distraction.
The statement reads, “It has been brought to our attention that a so-called faction of the Labour Party recently conducted what we can describe as a “beer parlour” presidential primary and supposedly elected a presidential candidate.
“There is only one Labour Party in Nigeria. For the purpose of public education and clarity, we will take a recourse to history. The Labour Party is the creation and offspring of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
“The decision to give birth to the Labour Party was taken by the statutory organs of the NLC and affirmed by the decision of the National Executive Council of Congress at its meeting in Bauchi in 2003 when it approved the formation of the Party for Social Democracy (PSD).
“It was at the inaugural convention of PSD in 2004 that NLC decided to change the name of PSD to the Labour Party and it has remained so since then.
“The Labour Party has since then gone through both bright and blight times. Yet, the ownership of the Party by the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress has never been in doubt.
“As a matter of fact, the original certificate of the registration of the Labour Party is domiciled in the national headquarters of the Nigeria Labour Congress. Also, a Federal High Court judgement by Justice G.O. Kolawole in March 2018 clearly establishes that Labour Party belongs to workers.
“The point is that the Labour Party is what the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) say it is. The leadership of the NLC and TUC recognize the leadership of the Labour Party led by Barr. Julius Abure, a former trade union leader and workers are part of the leadership.
“The NLC and TUC are aware of only one presidential primary which was held in Asaba, Delta State on 30th May 2022 and produced HE Peter Obi as its presidential candidate and standard bearer.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) monitored the presidential primary that produced HE Peter Obi. INEC recognizes only the Labour Party leadership led by the Chairman, Barr. Julius Abure and the National Secretary, Alhaji Farouk Umaru Ibrahim.
“They are the only Labour Party officials whose details are provided on INEC website. The leadership of the NLC and TUC gave our full support to the processes that produced HE Peter Obi as the presidential candidate of the Labour Party.
“Nigerians especially workers, youths and women attended the presidential primary of the Labour Party in their thousands and were thoroughly satisfied with the outcome of the same.
“We understand that with the current repositioning of the Labour Party as the party for workers, youths, students, women, traders, farmers, professionals, physically disabled persons, the unemployed and the downtrodden, the Labour Party has become the albatross of establishment political parties who have suddenly become jittery and are devising all forms of conspiracy theories and subterfuge to distract the Labour Party from ongoing mass mobilisation efforts for sweeping electoral victory in the 2023 general elections.
“The recruitment of one Calistus Okafor, a mischievous petty trader, to advance their evil plot of distraction is a new low and should be disregarded by the public.
“This, therefore, serves as a public disclaimer on Mr. Calistus Okafor. We warn the general public to steer clear of Calistus Okafor and characters who might want to cash in on the popularity of the Labour Party to hoodwink, extort and swindle unsuspecting members of the public.
“We, hereby, direct Nigerian workers and all the structures of the NLC and TUC to completely disregard the impersonation by Calistus Okafor who has a teacup stand to speak for Labour Party. Workers and millions of members of the Labour Party who desire a New Nigeria should regard tantrums by characters like Calistus Okafor as a mere storm in a tea cup.
“We encourage workers, youths, women, traders, farmers, professionals and all who seek the survival of Nigeria to continue to register for their Permanent Voters Card (PVC) and to safeguard their PVCs. We will answer all those who have held Nigeria down with our PVCs in 2023.”
Meanwhile, INEC on Thursday also confirmed Peter Obi as Labour Party presidential candidate for 2023 general elections.
The Commission’s National Commissioner for Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, who disclosed the development, said INEC is unaware of any faction in the party.
Okoye said the commission only identifies Julius Abure as the chairman of LP.
It was Abure that conducted the 30 May 2022 primary that produced Obi as the presidential candidate of LP for the 2023 General Election.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission has in its docket the list and verified signatures of all the national chairmen and national secretaries of all the registered political parties in Nigeria.
“As (at) today, the commission is not aware of any faction in the Labour Party.
“The person whose name is on the docket of the Independent National Electoral Commission as the National Chairman of the Labour Party is one Julius Abure.
“He’s the one that the commission recognizes as the National Chairman of the Labour Party.
“It was the same Julius Abure that utilized the provisions of Section 82 of the Electoral Act 2022 to give the Independent National Electoral Commission the statutory 21-day notice of their intention to conduct congresses and primaries for the purposes of electing their candidates at various levels.
“Now the same Julius Abure was the one that gave the commission the notice to the effect that the Labour Party was going to conduct its presidential primaries in Asaba and the Independent National Electoral Commission sent monitors to go and monitor the presidential primaries of the Labour Party that held in Asaba.
“As of today, the Commission does not have any information relating to the person who is claiming to be a factional chairman”, he said.
Obi emerged as the presidential candidate of LP at its national convention and presidential primary in Asaba, Delta State on 30 May, after other aspirants, including Pat Utomi, stepped down for him.
However, another faction of LP held another primary on Wednesday, 8 June in Abuja, producing Jude Ezenwafor, a former Senior Special Assistant on Political Matters to Obi as its presidential candidate.
INEC has now clarified that it has had no association with the new faction, led by Calistus Uju Okafor.
“We have not had any form of communication from him or from any of the members of his faction.
“So, to that extent, and as far as the commission is concerned, the Labour Party is not factionalized.
“The National Chairman that the commission recognizes is Julius Abure, and it is Julius Abure that the commission has given the access code to the Candidate Nomination Portal for the 2023 election.
“That access code will be the only code that will lead any individual to the portal where the personal particulars of nominated candidates will be uploaded for this election”, Okoye said.
Meanwhile, amid the controversy, Jude Ezenwafor, has renounced his bid for the 2023 presidential race.
“I hereby withdraw from the forthcoming Presidential Election in 2023,” he wrote in his withdrawal letter addressed to the party’s factional leadership on Thursday.
“After consulting my supporters Nationwide, I decided to withdraw for personal reasons. I regret any inconvenience my withdrawal might cost our great Party.
“I thank the leadership of our great Party for giving me the opportunity to serve Nigeria”, he said.
With the development, Peter Obi will be facing Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Adewole Adebayo of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and Kola Abiola of the Peoples’ Redemption Party (PRP) among others for Nigeria’s top job in 2023.