By Kenneth Okonkwo

Social media is a relatively new invention that has given everyone the opportunity to maximise his reach in whatever he chooses to do. The advantage of this social invention is that whenever what you are doing is good, social media enables all men of goodwill to tune in to the good example shown. Unfortunately, whenever anyone chooses the wrong path of irresponsibility, the social media equally assists in the dissemination of the evil act. As usual, bad news travels faster and wider than good news. A picture of a naked woman will travel at a lightening speed faster and wider than a picture of a woman decently dressed, no matter how beautiful she may look within such apparel. Maybe because the holy scriptures admonished that such propensity to publish and enjoy corrupt messages come from the spirit of the prince of the power of the air which is satanic and operates in the children of disobedience. Ephesians 2:2 of the Holy Bible is very clear when it states that “Wherein in time past ye walked accord- ing to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:”

The scripture acknowledged that there’s always a past for everyone which was not in conformity with God’s ways and needed amendments, because the spirit of disobedience must perpetually work in children of disobedience. This is what is happening in Labour Party (LP) today. In the past, a lot of wrong things have occurred which can be ascribed as satanically motivated. A situation where the National Chairman of the political party, Julius Abure, was accused by his predecessor of forging some- thing; accused by his contemporary National Treasurer, Oluchi Opara, of forging something; accused by some candidates who ran under the Labour Party platform of forging something; accused by some renegade group of some suspended and expelled Labour Party members of forging something; and now majority of the Labour Party members are accusing him of forging a national convention, totally unknown to law, it’s obvious that his cup is full and he may need to purge himself of this spirit that operates in the children of disobedience and gently step aside from Labour Party and find one spiritual home to commence penance for his actions to attract spirit of forgiveness from God.

The so called Nnewi convention cannot be referred to as convention of any political party because it falls short of any convention by the most flawed political party in Nigeria talk more of Labour Party which prides itself as a party that is geared towards creating a new Nigerian personality who would be patriotic, altruistic, transparent and committed to due process, and rule of law in governance, industry and other spheres of our national life. (Article 8(c) of the Labour Party Constitution). Every Labour Party member knew about the convention on social media through a leaked letter written to the Independent National Electoral Commission by the former National Executive Council appointed National Chairman, Julius Abure, stating that the convention will take place in Benin, Edo State. No formal announcement or advert was placed in any media house intimating Labour Party members of the national convention. This alone voids the convention because it offends the fundamental right of every Labour Party member to vote and be voted for, into any elective posts, in any organ of the Party, subject to guidelines by the NEC or any organ so designed. (Article 10(ii) of LP). Political parties are not occultic societies where things are done in secrecy. No wonder his own home state rejected him and his social media convention. He ran to Abia and was rejected. When it was about six days to the convention, he surreptitiously ran to Nnewi to hold what will eventually turn out to be his valedictory speech on the affairs of Labour Party.

Unfortunately for these army of self deluders, there were no rules and guide- lines provided by the National Executive Council (NEC) to guide the conduct of the convention. This runs contrary to the Labour Party Constitution, Article 13(2)(B) (xviii), which empowers NEC “To have powers to make rules and guidelines governing conduct of elections into the organs of the Party”.

Section 82(1)(5) of the Electoral Act (EA) is very clear that every registered political party shall give the Commission at least 21 days notice of any convention convened for the purpose of electing members of its executive committees and other governing bodies, and failure of a political party to notify the Commission as stated in subsection (1) shall render the convention invalid. The social media convention organised in Nnewi was done without giving INEC 21 days notice and as such is dead like “dodo”. INEC was therefore correct in avoiding such leprous convention to avoid being contaminated, because even the 7 days notice it demanded in its rules for any alteration in the original notice of convention was not adhered to by Abure.

The ill-fated leprous convention was also done in flagrant violation of Section 83(3) of the EA which provides that “The election of members of the executive committee or other governing body of a political party, including the election to fill a vacant position in any of the aforesaid bodies, shall be conducted in a democratic manner and allowing for all members of the party or duly elected delegates to vote in support of a candidate of their choice.” All members of the Labour Party were not allowed to vote at the Nnewi convention, neither were there any elected delegates by them who voted for any candidate of their choice in the convention. The principle of representative elected delegates which can be deemed to have proceeded from all the members of Labour Party as envisaged by the Electoral Act meant that there would have been ward congresses, from were the delegates to the local govern- ment congresses would be elected, from where the delegates to the state congresses would be elected, and from where the delegates to the national convention will be elected. The Labour Party Constitution is clear in Article 13(1)(A)(xi) that “Delegates elected by the Congress of each State within the federation including the FCT”, are members of the National Convention”. It’s obvious that Abure did not conduct any ward, local government, and state congresses. Who then voted at the leprous convention at Nnewi? Little wonder why even the journalists were barred from monitoring the process.

In addition to the above unfaultable provisions that were breached by the army of perennial breakers of electoral laws, and Labour Party Constitution, Abure has ceased to exist as Labour Party Chairman, even before he erroneously conducted the leprous convention. The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended provided for a tenure not longer than 4 years for party executives. This tenure strictly does not admit of any elongation. Section 223(1)(a) of the Constitution provides that “The Constitution and rules of a political party shall provide for the periodical election on a democratic basis of the principal officers and members of the executives committee or other governing body of the political party”, while, 223(2) (a) concluded that “For the purposes of this section – the election of the officers or members of the executive committee of a political party shall be deemed to be periodical only if it is made at regular intervals not exceeding four years”.

Despite this provision, Abure was given a soft landing by an elongation of his tenure by one year on the condition of good behaviour to enable him con- duct unity convention that will embrace every member of Labour Party and produce peace. This was entered as a consent judgement between him and the Labour Party stakeholders in the statutory persons of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), brokered ironically by INEC. Abure still failed, refused, and neglected to conduct the convention until he was asked to step aside. He then, according to some Labour Party members, “forged” this Nnewi convention to illegally and unconstitutionality cling to power when the ship had already sailed. Abure should listen to common sense and step aside now he has his time before he finds himself in jail.

Let us chip in that the claim of Nigeria Labour Congress to the ownership of Labour Party runs contrary to the very nature of the corporate personality of political parties. No individual or corporate body owns any political party. Political parties are corporate persons on their own recognised by law and open for membership to all Nigerians, who proceed to elect their leaders as they choose, who will manage the Party for them. Section 77(1) of the EA states that “A political party registered under this Act shall be a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal and may sue and be sued in its corporate name”. Section 222(a)(b) of the 1999 Constitution stipulates that “No association by whatever name called shall function as a political party, unless the names and addresses of its national officers are registered with the Independent National Electoral Commission; the membership of the association is open to every citizen of Nigeria irrespective of his place of origin, circumstance of birth, sex, religion or ethnic grouping”. Once the political party is registered by INEC, it ceases to belong to any individual or corporate body, but belongs to all Nigerians who are members of the party. NLC can legitimately lay claim to be the founder of Labour Party, just as some persons found the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), but cannot legitimately claim ownership of it just like nobody can claim ownership of APC or PDP. As critical stakeholders of Labour Party, NLC is right to fight for the survival of Labour Party, but not on the false assumption that it owns the party. As things stand now, all good hands must be on deck to save Labour Party from collapse.

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