By NBF News

Labour Party as beautiful bride
Monday , March 08, 2010

Of recent, the Labour Party(LP) has assumed a new status, far from its original conceptional vision. It has become a veritable platform for the mass of disenchanted bourgeois politicians mainly from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

Globally, labour parties represent the traditional leftist political culture and often are the force for change. They maintain a tradition of hope for the toiling working class, towards the transformation of the old order to a new revolutionary rebirth of the society.

In Nigeria, the labour movement, which dates back to the 1940's has been still-born, and largely effete until 2003 when a group of young Nigerians from diverse backgrounds moved to change its circumstances into a concrete shape.

The new group succeeded in forming what was known as Party for Social Democrats(PSD) which was registered on December 17, 2002. In 2003, it metamorphosed into Labour Party, with an interim executive committee comprising Comrade Sylvester O.Z Ejiofor as National Chairman and Alhaji A.A. Salam as National Secretary.

Its first National Convention at the Women Development Centre, Abuja on February 28, 2004, where the name 'Labour Party' was formally adopted, produced the current set of leaders with Dan Nwanyanwu a lawyer, as National Chairman and A.A. Salam as National Secretary.

It contested for various positions nationwide during the general elections that year, but its impact was not felt.

However, in 2007, it blossomed into full maturity, vying in a total of 16 states across the nation. In Ondo, Edo, Plateau, Anambra and Adamawa states, made serious impact. Deputy National Secretary appraised its performance along the line of filling a vacuum for the 'toiling Nigerian working people'

According to him, 'the LP as conceptualized by its founding fathers, was expected to be different from other political parties in Nigeria in terms of its dreams for the future of Nigeria.' But has that vision been realized, given the character and ideological bent of most of its titans?

The metamorphosis
Apart from Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, whose natural political habitat is widely known to be the LP, other new major players in the party are incompatible with everything that the party stands for. Echoing this view, the Deputy Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC), who is also a member of the party, expressed deep worries at the development. 'I am genuinely worried that all sorts of people are coming to Labour Party especially from those we regard as coming from the 'nest of killers,' that is the PDP.

In Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, whose political profile began in the PDP, served in various positions as Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Commissioner, Minister etc, and eventually defected to the LP in 2006 and contested and won the seat of governor of the state. It was the same situation in Anambra last month when Chief Andy Uba, a hard core liberal ideologue in the PDP, defected to the LP to run for the February 6, 2010 Anambra elections. His defection to the LP underscored the emerging new status of the party in Nigeria.

Last week, former Ekiti State governor Ayo Fayose made a grand entry into the party from his PDP base and of course, this sent tongues wagging. Comrade Ade Ajayi, who represents the NLC in the party has joined others in expressing worries at the new image of the party, as a front for cronies of the PDP. 'I shall find it difficult as a responsible and committed member of the organized labour in Ekiti to identify with the party that has lost focus and also derailed from its main objectives of providing democratic culture and good governance'

However, Nwanyanwu, in a telephone chat described the movement into his party as 'the new direction.' He said the LP has become a mass movement. He said the mass movement of people was influenced by the pro-labour and people-oriented policies of the government of Ondo State which it presently controls, and the hope that the party holds out for millions of Nigerians. He exuded confidence that the LP will be the party to beat in the 2011 polls.

In 2007, the party was unable to field a presidential candidate, despite the fact that it held a special national convention at the Merit House in Abuja in December 2006.

The evolving party
Since its formation, the growth pattern of the LP has been in the main predictable. Decampees from other parties have always seized the structures in their home states, and at all times flown the governorship banners. In Lagos in 2006, the then deputy governor, a dye in the wool business tycoon, Mr. Femi Pedro came from the AC after failing to clinch its governorship ticket and flew the LP's banner. Today, he calls the shots in the Lagos chapter of the party and is rumoured to be warming up for an 'encore' in 2011.

In Anambra State, Uba, had to supplant the governorship candidate, without regards to extant electoral rules and decency. The same scenario played out in Enugu State in 2006 when Chief Okechukwu Ezea overnight became the party's governorship standard bearer to the consternation of existing aspirants in the fold.

Fayose's movement to the LP had been heralded by uproar and seething storm. A caretaker committee set up by the National Secretariat of the party is generally believed to be made up of Fayose's people.

Defending his choice of LP to contest for a position in 2011, Fayose had this to say: 'I am not with this party that is fond of imposition and oppression. I am not with this party that lacks decorum. I am not with a party that left all the federal roads unattended to. I am not with a party that does not believe in social justice, equity, freedom of expression, transparent internal democracy.

'If I go to any party and they don't do internal democracy, I will leave. The energy we exert on election is too much and this is because they don't allow internal democracy to take its course. When you allow people to line up behind people, there will be no problem.' If these are Fayose's motivation in embracing the LP, the influx is then situated within the prism of its ideology and manifest working philosophy.