• Friday, June 21, 2024
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2023: After realising threat LP poses, opponents working hard to frustrate us – Oluwatoyin

2023: After realising threat LP poses, opponents working hard to frustrate us – Oluwatoyin

Okufuwa Oluwatoyin is a chieftain of the Labour Party (LP) in Lagos State and also the founder of Project Change, a good governance advocacy group. In this exclusive interview WITH INIOBONG IWOK, he spoke about the state of the LP in Lagos State ahead of the 2023 general election, revealing what needs to be done to reposition the party, and the crisis in the LP in Lagos, among other issues. Excerpts:

The Labour Party in Lagos State doesn’t have candidates for National Assembly seats on the final list released by INEC for Lagos, amid bribery allegations. What happened?

Thanks for the question, it is rather unfortunate that INEC tags itself as being the Independent National Electoral Commission but it is far from being independent. The story in the news is that they have been compromised. I was approached by some elements too to betray Ifagbemi Awamaridi and joined their fray. I declined as it runs totally against my principles in life. My late dad always told me that a good name is always better than silver and gold and it is a life philosophy I have tried so much to maintain even though I am not claiming to be perfect or a saint. It is on record that a few of us that stood stoutly with Ifagbemi Awamaridi had our names omitted by INEC even though we are still alive and did not in any way withdraw and in accordance with their now fake Electoral Act.

Also, several people in the Awamaridi’s camp in the Labour Party in Lagos, including you also lost out in the final candidates’ names for other positions released by INEC. What may be the reason?

The honest truth is that we have been proactive and thanks to our leader Ifagbemi Awamaridi, the matter has been in court as we got early premonition that our national chairman had been compromised by certain elements that are against a change and true and honest liberty for Lagosians.

What is the way forward from here from your group?

We are still going on strong as we had envisaged a strong opposition from the mafia-like elements that have held Lagosians down for almost 25years and we have huge hopes that the courts will do the right thing and upturn the case to what it was and should be.

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There are reports of infiltration of the Labour Party in Lagos State by members of APC and PDP. How true is this?

That is obvious to say the least my dear brother. The Labour Party was looking like a huge threat and we should understand that some people will not be able to easily accept such an opening and will naturally do all they can to frustrate it. On our part, we understand that nothing good comes easy. We are fervently praying to God Almighty to take firm control and redirect the affairs of the people of Lagos and Nigerians as without his influence, it is almost looking like we are heading to doom.

Going by all that has transpired, would your group still work for the LP in the 2023 general election?

Sure, like I said our issue is now a court case. We have strong hopes that the ruling will be in favour as it is obvious that our omission was illegally done. Our vision is for a better Nigeria and not a personal one. We are selfless individuals and understand that for Nigeria to be great again, we cannot afford to be selfish. We are focused on the bigger picture.

What is your take on the chances of LP presidential candidate, Peter Obi and governorship candidate in Lagos?

I used to have great hopes but with recent development it is gradually dampening my hopes. I am a strong believer that everything starts and ends with leadership. The people at the helm of affairs at both the national and state levels are very critical to the success or otherwise of this venture. If we don’t get it right at that point it can be disastrous for us all. It is obvious that Nigerians from all walks of life desire to have true, honest and genuine change from the top to the bottom with regards to the quality of leadership to steer the ship.

Well, there is still time to fix all the errors and put the party on proper footing as the elections are still about five months away. It is often said that 24 hours is a long time in politics. So, all hopes are not lost.

Despite Obi growing in popularity some Nigerians are worried that the party is not building structures at the grassroots; do you think it would affect the chances of the party?

It has been quite encouraging to be honest. Nevertheless, there is still so much work to be done. With the right approach and proper strategy so much can still be corrected and put in place.

How confident are you about INEC readiness for 2023 polls and would an amendment to the Electoral Act help to aid free and fair polls?

Not so confident. In recent times INEC has shown tremendous weakness in the areas of execution of the Electoral Act, especially as there have been complaints in several quarters of financial inducements of their staff.

I believe the task is more with us Nigerians to maintain and sustain the tempo and act as the watchdog to ensure that INEC and its leadership are constantly kept on their toes to do what is right and justice must not only be done but must be seen to have done by all.