I'm not sponsored to destroy Labour Party - factional leader, Apapa declares
Says NEC is committed to pursuing presidential petition to logical conclusion
By Mukaila Danladi
As controversy over the leadership of the factionalized Labour Party (LP ) rages on, factional leader of the party, Bashiru Lamidi Apapa, has denied insinuations that he is being sponsored to destroy the party.
Consequently, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Labour Party (LP) led by him has reiterated its commitment to pursuing to a logical conclusion, the petition of the party before the Presidential Election Tribunal.
The National Acting Chairman of LP, Bashir Lamidi Apapa who addressed members of his faction's NEC in Bauchi on Wednesday at Sulgad Hotel, said that the Party was solidly behind the Presidential candidate, Peter Obi and will continue to support him to reclaim the mandate.
He declared: "Nobody is sponsoring me to destroy the LP; how can I even do such a thing to a party I helped develop for over 20 years ago. I am a founding member of the LP and since I joined, I have never for once leave (sic) it for another party."
Going down memory lane, Lamidi Apapa said that, he just laughed when it was reported that the party's Presidential candidate, Peter Obi, was said that he did not know him. "Well, he just joined us about one year ago, but we went round for his campaigns in same plane across the country."
Apapa further said that there has never been a plan to withdraw the petition saying, "We believe in the mandate and we will do everything possible to reclaim it no matter how long it takes to do that."
On the faction within the party, he said it is a normal thing in democracy stressing, however, that it was only a few fragment that was talking about faction because according to him, "There is no faction in the Labour Party, we are all one as you can see here. Everyone who matters in the LP is here in Bauchi for the NEC meeting."
He said that Labour Party remained the strongest and most followed political party in Nigeria today as was seen in the results of the last general elections assuring that the party would continue to grow and wax stronger.
He advised those parading themselves as factional leaders of the party to desist from doing so having been barred by a Federal High Court in Abuja until the determination of the substantive case before the Court.
"Barr Julius Abure has since continued with grave impunity in contempt of the FCT High Court restraining order by conducting illegal National Executive Council meeting on 28th April, 2023 in Asaba, Delta state, which resolutions have been declared null and void and of no consequences to the extent of its inconsistency with the FCT High Court Restraining order.
"Abure also indulged in the conduct of illegal gubernatorial primaries in Imo, Kogi and Bayelsa states which outcomes have been declared null and void and of no consequences to the extent of its inconsistency with the FCT High Court Restraining order."
Apapa also called on the Presidential candidate of the party, Peter Obi, to watch his words in order not to create an unnecessary tension within the party stressing that what was needed now was to collectively fight the legal battle of reclaiming the presidential mandate.
Apapa commended NEC members from across the country for finding it expedient to attend the meeting which he claimed was the authentic meeting unlike the one held in Asaba. .
He said: "The recent events in our party, with the advent of the 2023 general election, propelled the Labour Party (LP) as the third most influential political party in Nigeria by reason of the gains in our electoral victory in the 2023 General
elections in Nigeria."
According to him, "while the outcome of the 2023 presidential and national elections are commendable, we are also certainly challenging the outcome of the presidential and some national and state elections in the presidential election petition tribunal and other election petition tribunals in Nigeria.
"Let me state categorically, that the Labour Party LP under my leadership is committed lawfully to pursue the matter in the presidential election tribunal to a logical end, contrary to the wide-spread speculations that I wanted to withdraw the matter from the courts.
"Labour Party under my leadership recognizes Mr. Peter Obi, Presidential Candidate but will not support any move by any member of our great party to undermine the unity and peace of our country. Labour Party under my leadership shall not support any unconstitutional change of Government by anyone no matter how highly placed. Labour Party under my leadership shall accept the outcome of the presidential election petition tribunal up to the Supreme Court."
Earlier, the National Legal Adviser of the LP, Barr Akingbade Oyelekan had said that Labour Party would not be distracted by those elements who were bent on destroying the good movement for emancipation started by the party many years ago.
Oyelekan insisted that the Lamidi Apapa led faction is the authentic leadership of the party as recognised by the Constitution of the party stressing that anything to the contrary is a nulity.
According to him, "All of us in this hall are members of the LP, nobody from the PDP, NNPP or APC, therefore, there is no faction. All we are doing is to ensure that the due process is followed and adhered to by all."
He also assured that the leadership of LP under Apapa was ever ready to pursue the ongoing legal battle at the presidential election tribunal to its conclusion saying that there is no truth in the insinuation that the petition would be withdrawn.
He urged members of NEC to ensure that they remained united behind Apapa, urging them also to support him in order to take the party to greater heights in the country.