The chairman of the Lagos chapter of the Labour Party, Ifagbemi Awamaridi, says he has not withdrawn from contesting as the party’s gubernatorial candidate in the 2023 elections.
This insistence comes after the announcement of Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, a former senatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as the Labour Party’s candidate after a substitution primary that took place on Wednesday.
Mr. Gbadebo had pulled 111 votes in victory, defeating Moshood Salvador, a former chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who got 102 votes.
Validating the substitution primary, Bashiru Apapa, deputy national chairman of LP, had told journalists that Awamaridi had written formally to withdraw from the race.
In his statement, he said that Awamaridi was a placeholder candidate meant to give way much later for the eventual gubernatorial flag bearer. But against this narrative, Awamaridi dismissed the substitution primaries on Saturday when he spoke to journalists to reveal his plans for Lagos State.
“I call the substitution primary conducted on Wednesday a comedy because it was against the new Electoral Act to substitute a candidate without his withdrawal notice to the INEC,” he said.
If it were to be the substitution in the old Electoral Act, after conducting primaries, the party in its wisdom can change the candidate that won without his or her consent.
“Then, there is always a window for substitution which is different from the window for withdrawal, and the window for substitution is where you can substitute without withdrawal.
“However, the window for withdrawal is different but the new Electoral Act has nullified that because this new act now says that once you have conducted primaries supervised by INEC, you are automatically the candidate.
“What can change it is death and even the withdrawal must not be under duress. Besides, I had gone to court to declare that I have not withdrawn and I am not dead but alive, so, what else?”
“It was even alleged that some people want to print my obituary and that is what I heard, and I quickly ran to INEC to show myself that I am alive.”
Awamaridi also pleaded with Peter Obi, the party’s presidential candidate, to act quickly to resolve the matter in order to increase the LP’s chances of winning in 2023.