In the 2023 general election, the Labour Party won 35 federal constituencies to emerge the second opposition party with the largest number of seats, after the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP). After the inauguration of the 10th assembly, not a few are expecting that LP members in the House of Representatives would do things differently.

The leader of the LP caucus, Victor Afam Ogene, in this interview, with Daily Sun, speaks on plans by the party to provide a robust opposition, in the Green chamber, to the benefits of all Nigerians.

Ogene, who is the member representing Ogbaru Federal Constituency of Anambra State, also stressed the need for further amendment of the Electoral Act 2022.

What should Nigerians expect from the LP as the second major opposition party in the 10th Assembly?

Even before the inauguration of the 10th assembly of the House of Representatives, a whole lot of expectations have been placed on the lean shoulders of the representatives of Labour Party, which by the Grace of God, I am chair of its House of Representatives caucus. As you also know, we have eight members in the Nigerian Senate. Taken as a whole, we came here on the wings of the people’s mandate.

I dare say that more than half of the 35 man strong Labour Party representatives may not have come to the House but because of the desire for change as exemplified by the love of the people for the message of the Labour Party, especially as championed by its presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi.

So, we are quite conscious of these expectations. And we are poised to live up to expectations. But when you talk about opposition; opposition does not presuppose disagreement on every single item. Opposition means offering an alternate viewpoint.

Take for instance, the removal of subsidy. Our principal was one of those, who without blinking an eyelid, talked about the need to remove the so-called subsidy. Which we know in some respect is simply a scam, whereby people put in documents for fuel they do not import and claim money from the Nigerian authorities. So, in some respects, it is a huge scam.

But then to stop that drainpipe, Mr Peter Obi has talked about taking away that subsidy. But he also had another way that he would have done it. Not by mere fiat of a presidential pronouncement on the first day in office. The things they (APC led Federal Government) are currently trying to put in place, I am sure Mr Peter Obi would have put those things in place first before removing subsidy.

So, in the House of Representatives, if anybody is expecting that we will wear boxing gloves, to plenary, no that is not the way we intend to go. We intend to use our brains. To use our common ideology, which has put us together as Labour Party members to offer alternative viewpoints to any policy that we think is a no, no.

Let me also inform you that as soon as we resume(from recess), we shall be naming our political/ economic think-tank in the House. We have already discussed this and agreed. And this think tank will review policies that the executive sends to the legislature and we will come out with our position paper on how it should go. Also, keep in mind that the legislature is run on lobbying, voting and each individual has a vote.

So, for us, we may not immediately swing issues to our side. But when you present a credible alternative viewpoint, I know that everybody who has found his or her self in the House of Representatives is reasonable enough. And at such times, they will stand with the truth and jettison party loyalty; to say that, I think the Labour Party is offering a more credible way out of this issue . And in some instances, we will win. In some others, we may not. But be rest assured that our voices will not be muted.

There are fears that some members of the Labour Party might dump the party for the APC?

To go and do what? I was part of the formation of the APC. I joined the APC in 2014 as a member of the 7th Assembly. I was present in Lagos at the convention that chose immediate past President Muhammadu Buhari as candidate of the party. I remained in APC until some time last year, when the Labour Party movement began. And I felt after close to eight years, I had given my best to the APC and was going to be part of that movement; having also worked with Mr Peter Obi in the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), when he was governor of Anambra State.

What will a man like me, who contested (House of Representatives election) on APC ticket in 2015; offered the ticket in 2019, even when the form was close to N4million, I said I didn’t have money to buy. Party stalwarts bought the form for me, conducted the primary, I wasn’t there. I won. And I still refused to run on the platform of the APC.

So, for somebody who rejected the ticket to run for election(in 2019) and also rejected the ticket last year, offered to me gratis, what will I now go back to look for in the APC. I have since moved on.

But that is not to say that you can’t have one or two people who ran even the primaries on the APC platform last year and didn’t make it, and somehow because of the liberal policies of the Labour Party were allowed to participate, because the window was still open and they made it. For such people, well their hearts might still be in Labour Party and their mind in some other parties. But they will speak for themselves.

Don’t forget that when you cross carpet, it is a decided issue from the Supreme Court of Nigeria, that when you leave your party, you lose your seat. And some people in this republic, have lost their seats prior to now. So anybody, who is contemplating that, should be put on notice that as a party, we will demand for our seat.

Culled from Daily Sun


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