The National Youth Leader of the Labour Party (LP), Prince Kennedy Ahanotu, Has Given Reasons Behind The Iingering Crises Rocking The Party.

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  • The National Youth Leader of the Labour Party (LP), Prince Kennedy Ahanotu, Has Given Reasons Behind The Iingering Crises Rocking The Party.
prince kennedy ahanotu national youth leader labour party
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In this interview with Sunday Sun, he also looked at issues surrounding the party’s recent National Convention in Nnewi, Anambra State, its rift with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), as well as the challenges he faces as youths leader, among others. Excerpt:

Why have the crises in LP continued to linger?

Most crises linger because of interest and you know we are in a country where everything is about personal interests most times. If it were to be where public interest is being considered, with reference to consistency, track record, participation and contribution to national building, the crises would not have persisted. The issue is that we are in a country where many people will sit on the fence and wait for you to finish building so that they will come and start enjoying. Why the problem has continued is because there are people that feel that now is the time for them to be at the leadership positions of the party and not those who have stayed on the line moving the boat to where it is today. So, it is all about personal interests.

The NLC, which is the custodian of the LP has declared your recent national convention in Anambra null and void, saying that it was not properly consulted ahead of time. What do you have to say on this?

It is It is not in the position of NLC to declare a convention null and void because we are not talking about workers’ welfare. We are talking about political engagement that talks about membership of political organisation. It is only members of Labour Party that have sufficient interest and stake in that party that are in position to say that the convention is invalid. So, it is out of point for the NLC to even imagine that they can say that the convention is null and void. In fact, NLC cannot be an institutional member of the Labour Party. There is no institutional membership of a political organisation. There can only be individual membership. NLC, yes has interest in the Labour Party, because when the Labour Party was formed, it was formed by largely workers who were members of the NLC and some were members of other unions as at the time. They came together to form Labour Party. But also mind you that once an organisation is formed, it has a life of its own.

But the NLC claims to have an agreement with the party which mandates an all-inclusive national convention, among other things?

Yes, there was an agreement signed with the NLC. When Abure came as the National Chairman, he said that the issues with the NLC could not continue, so he went to NLC and engaged them to begin to share ideas on how to work together and that was when they said that there should be an inclusive convention and that their members have to be incorporated into the NWC, as well as the party’s board. We accepted. But they nominated people who were members of other parties. For instance, Isa Aremu, one of the people appointed to be incorporated into the LP BoT is a member of the APC, he ran election in APC; Adams Oshiomhole was a governor under APC and is Senator under APC. Some of these people they norminated, have not even participated for more than 20 years in the Labour Party. Then Madam Ladi Elia was the NLC representative in the NWC. There is another man from Kaduna State, Alhaji Umaru. He is also an NLC normination in the NWC. They were accommodated. So, they cannot say that that agreement was not fulfilled. The agreement was fulfilled. The only thing remaining is the inauguration of the Board which is being delayed because some of the people they nominated are already members of other political parties. There is no way you will bring a member of APC and make him a board member in LP. It is not done. Also note that most of the NLC chairmen in the states work for the ruling party. That is why as a political party, it will not be acceptable to have institutional membership like NLC. If you have members of NLC, who are retired who want to play active politics, they should go to their ward and become a member of the Labour Party.

The LP leader, Mr Peter Obi, Alex Otti and many of the party’s members at NASS, as well as other stakeholders did not attend the just held national convention. They claim that the convention was held against their wish for inclusion and wide stakeholders consultations. What do you have to say about this?

None of the party statutory stakeholders have said that they did not recognise the convention since after it held. Obi has not said that he did not recognise the convention. If you listened to him during the social media meeting he had with young Nigerians, world over, he said that now that the convention is over, we will continue. He did not make any reference to rejecting the convention. One thing with Nigerians is that we are still learning to abide by institutional principles. Party supremacy has been bastardized in Nigeria. That is why you would vote a councillor today, that councillor will take you to be a rag. He does not care if you are a party chairman, he wants you to worship him though you gave him the platform under which he was elected. This is because Nigerians do not respect institutional structures. So, everybody does what he or she wants. But, none of our National Assembly members has said that they condemn the convention after it had been done. Agreed, many of them advised the party to postpone the convention, but it was an advice to the party. And when you advise a party to postpone its convention and they did not heed to that advice, the next thing you should do is to find out why they insisted on moving ahead with that convention, because there must be a reason for anything anyone does. The convention may not be palatable to everyone 100 per cent, but the truth remains that the person running the race may have seen some certain things which many other people have not seen.

INEC has also come out to say that it did not monitor the convention. Do you not think that this affects the credibility and legitimacy of that convention?

Can you give me a reference where INEC said they did not accept LP convention? When they say that they were not there, they are correct. If you look at the Electoral Act, there is a section that states that INEC may or may not be present, and the word ‘may’ is probability. It is not mandatory. I would have preferred not to mention this so that people can go to court and present the case and say that INEC did not come and that is the reason it should be nullified, so that they would be disgraced out of court. If you look at where the Electoral Act spoke about elective primaries of every political party, in that section, it says that INEC ‘shall’, which means that it is mandatory, that it is compulsory for INEC to be there to supervise the party primary because it is electing a candidate for the public. But party convention is 250 per cent a family affair. They were given ticket to attend, but I do not know why INEC did not attend. Although you know that INEC needs to be unbundled because they are doing so much work. They are lacking in adequate staffing. So, they need more staff. Although they may have other reasons not to have attended the party convention, but LP is not the only party that INEC did not attend their convention. There are many other political parties that INEC never appeared at their conventions. But they would do their convention and send their report to INEC which it would accept. So, I feel that INEC not attending that convention, does not invalidate it.

Do you not fear that these crises my affect the party’s chances of mobilising votes in 2027 or even push Peter Obi out of the party?

There is no where that there is a wall that there will not be a lizard. LP headache is a big as the people in LP. You could see APC headache too. Sometimes it is as if the house will fall. You could see PDP crises and It also seems like the house will fall. Even the PDP is still in big trouble up till now. So, it is everywhere, but because LP just performed wonders in 2023, many political parties, including the party in power, do not want the party to see the light of the day in 2027, hence, the continues crises in the party. Most things in Nigeria are sponsored. There is nothing that happens for nothing in Nigeria. Many things happening in LP and the attacks coming to us, are sponsored. For instance, I woke up one morning on social media to see that an allegation saying that N2 million was paid into my account to change delegate list in Edo State. A royal prince like me? This was an act that never crossed my mind. An amount that was never in my account. A transaction that never happened in my account, two weeks before and two weeks after that particular date that was mentioned. But such allegation was laid against me. And it trended like fire on Twitter. People called me a thief. Was that guy not paid for that job? He was paid, because eventually, a ground check has shown who he is, and the people that sponsored him. But everybody now has the impression that I am a thief even though no court has indicted me. So, what is happening to Labour Party is what could have happened to any organisation that is going through metamorphosis. It is not different from what could have happened to PDP when they were going through their own metamorphosis phase. It cannot be different from what happened to APC when they were going through their own season, and what Mr. Peter Obi said is normal for anybody to say. But I do not think that people are giving what he said the right interpretation. What he said is that when you are in a house, of course, you try to make innovation, you try to improve things. But in a situation where you can no longer handle it, you let it be. He said the truth.

What is the leadership of LP doing to restore peace to the party?

Well, if you can look around, you would see that there are momentous turmoil that came up. Before the Edo election, there were a lot of crises in the party. That is to prove that most of these things are being stage managed. Before the party’s national convention, you saw a lot of crises that even NLC that is claiming ownership of the party came to picket the party. They came to the party and destroyed things in the party. A party you say is your own, you came and destroyed it. You came and scattered the gates. You came and destroyed a lot of things. Although, you would notice that since after that convention, many of the social media crises have reduced. Many of the demonstrations in the party secretariat have reduced. Many of all these things that happened before that convention have reduced. But, the party has also engaged conciliatory measures. The party is talking. If not that a few days ago, a mysterious fire gutted the house of the National Chiarman. I do not know if it was diabolical. The man almost died in that accident. So, there are a lot of reconciliatory measures that are being put in place as a family. It is not what we will begin to say for public consumption. But I can assure you that as a family, there are reconciliatory approaches. There are reconciliatory discussions going on here and there. I can assure you that within a short while, every member of the family will still unite and work together for the general good of the country. We have so many things to fight. Look at the electricity tariff that has been hiked, NLC has not made a statement since two days now that this thing has happened. So, they are not interested in workers’ welfare. They are interested in politics. The next thing you will hear now is that the Federal Government will begin to push for the repeal act to remove NLC, because they are deviating from their duties.They are now becoming political party. So, the moment NLC has become a political party, they can no longer be speaking for the generality of workers’ interests. Because there are workers that are APC-minded, there are workers that are Labour Party-minded and there are workers that are PDP-minded. So, NLC has to remain neutral. And let me also use this opportunity to remind you and remind NLC and remind Nigerians that the NLC Political Commission was formed with the mandate to reach out to all the political parties in Nigeria to be able to push further the workers’ charter of demand, to harmonise the interests of workers with all the political parties, to make sure that whichever political party is coming to power is coming to power with a workers’ friendly policy and manifesto. So, that is the function and duty of the NLC Political Commission. They can come and say it is a lie. But now, all their interest is to hijack Labour Party. Which I am sure is not going to happen.

What would you suggest is the way forward for all aggrieved parties?

What we need to do is to be patient enough to see whether this decision taken by the NWC and by the NEC of the party is for good or bad. That is my thought. But personally, I feel that this decision taken by the NWC is actually for the general good of the party, for general good of our elected members and for the general good of our leader, Peter Obi. Peter Obi advised that the NWC should postpone and consult stakeholders and he was asked; “who are the stakeholders?” He said Big Tent, UC Front, Obidients. But just like I mentioned earlier, there is no institutional membership of political organisations. There is only individual membership. Big Tent cannot say they are members of the Labour Party. Big Tent is a support group that worked tirelessly and supported the movement of winning presidential election in 2023 and we acknowledge the excellent work they did. Same with the Obidients. LP’s name could not have been heard anywhere the way it was heard in the 2023 presidential election if not for the proactiveness of the Obidients and the Obidients are made up of thousands of support groups, millions of high-spirited goodwill Nigerians across the world. A higher percentage of them are not even talking. Many of the people that are talking now, are talking because of ulterior motives and personal interests. But beyond interest, the decision of the leaders of the party should be able to capture the betterment of the organisation, which I feel the party leaders have done. I do not expect people to clap. I do not expect people to be happy.

What have been your biggest challenges being the youth leader of the third largest political party in Nigeria?

Well, my number one challenge is that there is a lot to be done, but there is no funding. There is no support for me. For example, I ran a presidential election as an acting National Youth Leader, there was no budget for youth mobilisation. I was able to do North-West Zonal Youth Summit, North-East Zonal Youth Summit, North-Central Youth Summit on the account of express support of my friends and people that wanted me to succeed in that office. And I say may God bless them. But as for the party, as for a presidential campaign council, there was no budget for the office of the National Youth Leader of the Labour Party to engage in youth mobilisation across all the campuses in Nigeria, across all the high institutions in Nigeria and across all the nooks and crannies. So, the magic that happened in 2023 was that the Obedient Movement is a self-driven movement. It is a self-motivated movement, If not, we would not have achieved what we achieved. My office was not funded and I was careful not to engage in fundraising and that is why nobody can say any day, any time that I solicited funds from him or her. Not even one naira from anywhere. Nobody can say that they gave me one naira for the purpose of youth mobilisation and I should account for it. Nobody can say that. There are many projects that I executed personally and with the little support from the party. Little, not big and not in line with what is expected. And there are other challenges such as the personal interest of the younger generation. The youth of Nigeria have many interests. The challenge of harmonising a whole lot of support groups, a whole lot of young people with different interests, is also a big challenge. Many of our youth do not want to be led, rather they want to lead you. So, it is a difficult thing. It is also a challenge. And again, inasmuch as I am thanking the media, the media also need to help us. When people come to media to lay accusations on us, the media should also investigate, because one of the challenges I had was character malignments. People go to social media and malign my character. They say a whole lot of things against my personality. They paint me to be who I am not on social media. It is also a big challenge to me.

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