Comrade Kelly Ogbaloi, Chairman of the Edo State chapter of Labour Party, (LP), has been a key head in the Obedient Movement struggle clamoring for a better Nigeria and Edo State respectively. In this Interview with The9JaTREND, he dwells on lessons learnt from the General Election and how Labour Party has reposition to meet up with election challenges ahead of the 2024 Governorship Election. He further clears the air on the stand of LP on zoning. He posited that the Constitution of Labour Party do not contain zoning. Excerpts.
What lessons did your Party drew from the last general election?
Well, as Edo State Chairman of Labour Party, my executive and l, even members of the party did had a very bitter experience in the last general election. The election was a replica of the old ways of conducting elections in this country. Though, we were expecting a more better election wishing, the electoral law as assented by the former President, Mohammadu Buhari and passed into law by the National Assembly would have taken care of the loopholes characterized in previous elections, but the reverse was the case. Our hopes were indeed crashed at the abysmal performance of INEC and other Agencies mandated to ensure that election is credible and transparent.
Despite the cash crunch, politicians deployed massive funds which were used to buy votes in the last election, thugs were seen scaring voters and in some cases shot some to death. They were glaring evidences that election was marred with violence but this did not deterred Edo people who were already fed up with APC and PDP. Some of them stood their ground and ensured they voted, reason why Labour Party had 79% in the Presidential election, having seen all the tactics that were deployed by APC and PDP during the House of Assembly Election and even our recently concluded LGA Elections, As a Party, we have also learnt that we need to upgrade ourselves to meet up with the rigours that comes with elections in the present day Nigeria even as we prepare for the 2024 Governorship election.
The painful part was the LGA election while we were preparing, thinking we were going to have an all inclusive election, we never knew that the State actors have already masterminded how to rig other Party out. It was a painful experience as we also discovered that there were duplication of result sheets. Some polling units were deserted completely, yet results were announced in such areas, yes our party Candidates who could have contested the announced LGA results in the court can not proceed because the application made to EDSIEC to provide the certified true copy of the election materials were not approved, a situation where EDSIEC is asking those expected to contest the outcome of the election results to pay 99Million or something to procure the CT is ridiculous. These were the very horrible experience that we had that is discouraging. As a matter of fact, we are thinking of putting up severe advocacy and seminars to reorient Edo people on some of the measures we are going to take as we move to the next election.
Every sad experience we had in the last election, we are working hard to ensure that in subsequent election, such will not occur.
From your point of view, has the role of Election Tribunal been impactful to our electoral process?
Well. to be sincere, I have not seen any impactful role Election Tribunal is playing in our democratic process because unnecessary technicalities are being introduced into glaring evidence provided in court and these are worrisome situations as far as the growth of democracy is concern in this Country. So, is difficult to say that the Tribunal has adjudicated justice in the manner that is devoid of partiality. To me the consequences are that nobody has taken anything reasonable from the judgments. The last Tribunal case that my Party lost, you can see that the Judgment were delivered on the basis of anger merely because they were not comfortable with the utterances made in the court, and if a Judge gives a Judgment based on his feelings abinitio, not based on evidence, it means that judgment is tinted towards partiality. Trying to discuss it in a rigmarole manner and come up with judgment that ordinarily couldn’t have been. Really, their role has been tragic and is nothing to write home about.
How ready is your party to provide a level playing ground for all the Governorship Aspirants in the upcoming primary election?.
What we have agreed is that we are going to do the right thing as a party because that is the pillar our mantra stands on. Labour Party will do things differently in comparison to what obtains in the past. So, no matter how many Aspirants we have, we are going to provide a level playing ground for all of them because we want to get the best Candidate, somebody who is disposed to the challenges of Edo People and one who will not detach the people from his government if elected, someone who will regard the participation of the people in his government by creating a very integral structure. So, trying to get the right candidate, the persons who will superintend the primary election must follow all the modalities the party will put in place and ensure the screening process is credible enough to produce a competent Candidate to flag the ticket of our Party.
What is your Party doing to revive the Obedient Movement ahead of 2024 Governorship election?
Well, that is the opinion of some people that the Obedient Movement fire has gone down, but has it really drop? We don’t think it has dropped. If we participated in an election and lost in the tribunal, we need to go back and check what the issues are, what we did right or wrong, with the review, we can come out with more robust measures to ensure we don’t repeat same mistakes again.
What is your call to Edo people who were disappointed with the outcome of the last election?
First of all, what happened is a general phenomenal and is not a management issue, and I believe that the people’s anger is not against Labour Party on what they could not do but is against those in power and the apparatus they deployed to achieve their aim. My call to Edo people is that we cannot afford to stop pushing because if we do, then we shall be shooting ourselves on the foot. Because we are not where we want to be yet.
My advice, is that we should not be discouraged, because in trying to change the odd ways, there will definitely be challenges. So, we are not going to let go, we need to push more until we get things right. On the part of our party, we are going to set up groups, committees to visit people at their various wards to sensitize them, not to give up at the stage that we are, because we cannot allow ourselves to be discouraged. We need to take governance from those who have impoverished us and run it the way everyone will benefit from it. Remember, our National Chairman, Barr. Julius Abure has been visiting the State every two weeks now to ensure those who were disenchanted in the party are encouraged and motivated as well as to set up measures that can help to ensure the upcoming 2024 Governorship election is seamlessly carried out.
Is your party working on zoning or allowing her primary process to produce a Competent Candidate?
There is nothing like zoning in the Constitution of Labour Party. Zoning is a convenient term used by some politicians to say a particular senatorial district should be given a chance to produce a candidate, but I am shock why some persons are bringing it to our party. I begin to wonder, even if Labour Party wants to design a system to produce its Governorship Candidate, will it be an outright zoning really? Are we not going to look at a system that will work for us than the zoning that is so much abused by the PDP and APC? In fact, it is their term and not Labour Party terms. I can assure you that our Party as at today are yet to meet in terms of how the election will go and how its Candidate will emerge. What we are looking at is that, Edo State is one and whoever comes out through the credible process, we are going to deploy and would be the flagbearer of our party, and if elected as Governor would be the Governor of Edo State and not of any particular senatorial district . So, for us in Labour Party, we are going to search for an eligible candidate who will put the people first above his personal interest, a man who can transform our infrastructural setbacks and bring the dividends of democracy to the people and this kind of candidate can only emerge from a credible process and could be from anywhere in the State. The drive is to get somebody who has the eligibility to govern the State.
Ahead of 2024 Governorship Election, what is your call to Edo People?
My call is that, we have seen it all in the previous and present government and nobody can say what we are seeing is the best for us and because of that, Edo people should be ready to champion the change of power to Labour Party as it is the only party presently ready to deliver good governance to the people of the State. Labour Party is the party that has existed without blemish and therefore, Edo People should be ready to vote its Candidate who will be ready to bring participatory government to the people.