Home Politics Edo governorship: Of justice, equity, fairness and LP’s double standard

Edo governorship: Of justice, equity, fairness and LP’s double standard

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It provokes angry and hilarious laughter at the same time seeing the Labour Party (LP) exhibiting double standard in the Edo State governorship election. For the record, LP’s fortunes only changed dramatically after a long time in limbo in May 2022. It was never that much in the consciousness of Nigerians. However, it transformed into a formidable party that rode the nation’s political waves with zest and almost caused a historical upset in a matter of months. Achieving that unprecedented feat was courtesy of a nationwide sentiment anchored on justice, equity and fairness. It is, therefore, sad and condemnable to see the same LP engage in a ridiculous show of double standard in Edo State.

LP literally went into oblivion following the defection of former governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko to the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on 2 October 2014. Not long after that, LP’s pioneer National Chairman, Comrade Dan Nwanyanwu also dumped the party, issuing a resignation letter dated 13 February 2015, which was addressed to his successor, Abdulkadir Salam.

That political tsunami within a space of less than six months reduced LP to a mere political carcass as a party until fortune smiled on it eight years later. A disgruntled Mr. Peter Obi, dumped the PDP in a dramatic fashion and days later declared for the LP. Obi was considered one of the frontrunners to clinch the presidential ticket of the PDP, but suddenly announced his withdrawal from the presidential primary just as he dumped the party on 25 May 2022. Three days later he joined the LP and on 30 May, emerged as the presidential candidate for the 2023 general election as all the other presidential aspirants stepped down for him.

PDP’s loss became LP’s salvation largely because of the sentiment woven around justice, equity and fairness. The need to demonstrate inclusivity in the recruitment of our political leaders, especially the president, resonated far above anything else. It became the major undercurrent of the 2023 presidential campaign – the need to allow power rotate back to the South since the North was completing its eight years through President Muhammadu Buhari.

Today, Nigerians can testify to the implications of the failure of some major parties to properly manage that preponderance of opinion and sentiment that power should revert to the South for the sake of justice, equity, fairness and inclusivity. A never-seen-before political consciousness and awareness with the moniker – Obidient Movement took over the country.

Therefore, many people are surprised and have been asking, “why did LP in Edo State jettison the wide spread sentiment that power should shift to Edo Central”? The argument has been that after 16 years of Edo South by 12 November this year; eight years of Edo North and a mere 18 months by Edo Central since 1999, power should shift back to Edo Central. While the PDP and the All Progressives Congress (APC) complied with this unwritten agreement, the LP arrogantly and condescendingly ditched it.

It is for this reckless display of double standard by the LP in presenting Barrister Olumide Akpata, who is from the same Edo South Senatorial District with incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki, the same Oredo Local Government and contiguous electoral wards and even allegedly said to be cousins, that many Obidients in the state have vowed not to have anything to do with LP in the 21 September election. It is not surprising that many of them have dumped the party for trampling on the core values of the Obidient Movement – justice, equity, fairness, inclusivity, competence, capacity, character and compassion.

At a recent event in Benin City, the state capital, a strong Obidient voice, Prof. Chris Nwaokobia, expressed his total rejection of what the LP stands for in the state governorship election. And many Obidients adopted his argument.

The event, a symposium organised by the Align Movement with the theme: ‘Empowering Youth Participation in Politics and Decision Making Process’ held at the magnificent Thames Events Centre, along Sapele Road. The venue was filled to the brim by youths, many of them expressing disappointment and displeasure at the manner in which LP threw the zoning arrangement in the state out of the window. Those who spoke with this writer described it in unprintable words.

Nwaokobia’s message was clear and unambiguous. He charged: “Youths must rise above the banal fabrics of partisanship and eschew partisan obscurantism for the nobler values of building a society where competency, character, compassion, credibility and commitment to the common good denominate our politics.

“Young people must elect the pristine values of equity, fairness and justice over party loyalty and affiliation, as only a sense of belonging, inclusiveness, inclusion and mutual trust can guarantee peace and development”. The submission elicited loud applause across the hall.

Nwaokobia further declared: “You cannot be said to be truly Obidient when your main reason for supporting a candidate is partisanship, and when the chief reason for which he is ‘your guy‘ is because of a political party.

“The greatest number of Obidients, who supported Peter Obi in the 2022/23 campaign season were not members of the Labour Party, and still are not members of the party, so why the hypocrisy by some Obidients? Is partisanship the same as competency and capacity? Did they choose and vote for Peter Obi because of Labour Party? Why the present double face? Why”.

He further declared: “I have chosen to align with the values that are eternal… Parties will die someday but the values of competency, capacity, capability, compassion, character and commitment to the common good, and the values that work for justice, equity, fairness and inclusion will remain pristine and eternal. Make the sublime choice today, and pursue it, for such is the pathway to greatness”.

LP’s double standard in the state governorship election has also been further exposed by the fact that the Candidate Akpata rode to the office of the President of the Nigeria Bar Association in 2020 by virtue of a subsisting rotational policy, which made it an exclusive right of the South West to vie for the position to the exclusion of the rest of the geopolitical zones. And by the South West it is meant Egbe Amofin in today’s South West and the MidWest Bar Forum (MBF) of former Midwest (now Edo and Delta). With that arrangement, only three candidate vied for the position and they were: Babatunde Ajibade, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN); Dele Adesina, SAN; and Olumide Akpata. While Ajibade and Adesina were from Egbe Amofin and both SANs, Akpata was from MBF. If every part of Nigeria was allowed to present a candidate, the possibility of Akpata emerging as NBA President in 2020 would be remote.

In an article jointly authored by Barrister John Austin Unachukwu and Joseph Jibueze, titled ‘NBA Presidency: Row over Zoning’, published in The Nation newspapers of 6 May 2014, former NBA President and legal titan, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) was quoted as saying: “In life itself, our words should be honoured and respected. Honouring gentleman’s agreement does not need any rocket science aid; rather, all it needs is our resolve to honour our conscience”. The article is hereby recommended for all to read. Just Google the title.

LP’s refusal to honour a gentleman’s agreement for power to rotate between the three senatorial zones is a betrayal of the intrinsic values of the Obidient Movement, and in particular, the trust of Edo people. It is a crass display of double standard and must be totally rejected by the voters on 21 September.

Etakibuebu, a strategic communications expert, wrote from Benin City

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