FORMER Anambra State governor Peter Obi has emerged the presidential candidate of the Labour Party amid a leadership crisis rocking the political party.
Obi emerged as the party’s flagbearer for the 2023 presidential election at the national convention and presidential primary held in Asaba, Delta State capital, on Monday, after Pat Utomi stepped down.
The former Anambra State governor had joined the LP shortly after he resigned his membership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and withdrew from the party’s presidential primary.
Obi’s emergence as presidential candidate is coming amid a leadership crisis that is currently rocking the LP.
The party’s former deputy national chairman Calistus Okafor is laying claim to the position of national chairman, and the conflict has been a subject of litigation since 2018.
According to ThisDay, Okafor is insisting that he is the authentic national chairman of the party following the demise of the substantive national chairman Abdulkadir Abdulsalam in 2020.
Okafor is arguing that he got the post by virtue of his position as deputy national chairman of the party when Abdulsalam died.
He added that the man currently recognised as national chairman, Julius Abure, was acting national secretary at the time Abdulsalam died but subsequently announced himself as the chairman without recourse to the provisions of the party’s constitution,
“The decision of Abure to make himself chairman, with the active collaboration of some members, actually led to the current leadership crisis in the LP.
“I, Calistus Okafor, approached the court to get a pronouncement to force Abure out and the case has been pending.
“The matter will come up tomorrow (today) at the Federal High Court. There is no way we would allow an acting national secretary to forcefully take over the party and replace the late national chairman against the provisions of the Constitution of the party,” Okafor said.
He said the LP Constitution stipulated that the deputy national chairman should act and/or replace the chairman in the event of death or resignation.
Okafor therefore urged Obi to thread softly, stressing that the LP, under which he intends to realise his presidential aspiration, was in a deep crisis that might not be resolved before the 2023 general elections.