Peter Obi’s adopted party, the Labour Party, has struggled to get its act together in Enugu State where a dispute over who won the party’s primary election among two PDP defectors has divided it into warring factions and caused a disruption in campaign activities.
A solidarity rally staged in the state last weekend ended in chaos as supporters of Chief Everest Nnaji and Chijioke Edeoga, the two former PDP stalwarts laying claim to the party’s governorship ticket, clashed on the streets and took to violence in an incident that required police intervention for the restoration of calm.
The chaos has its origin in the shoddy nature of the election primaries conducted by the party in the state and across the country, with state officials reportedly sanctioning a repeat process that left the party with the spectacle of different aspirants claiming victory despite the well-known legal position that a political party can only present one candidate for each elective position.
Although Chief Everest Nnaji was declared the winner of an earlier primary conducted, Chijioke Edeoga, a PDP decampee similar to Nnaji, reportedly won a second primary. Both men remain insistent on their status as the duly elected governorship candidate of the Labour Party in Enugu state.
The weekend clash reportedly ensued when supporters of Chijioke stormed a solidarity rally organized by Nnaji to prevent the latter from publicly advertising his candidature. Supporters of the party in the state have attributed the conflict to an attempt by the national leadership of the Labour Party to impose a preferred aspirant.
This has given rise to insinuations that the row is evidence of the ‘importation’ of the ‘old PDP style’ into the Labour Party by Obi and his fellow journeymen, while others imply it is a continuation of the larger battle for the control of the party between Obi and Pat Utomi.
A member who spoke to the press said: “It’s unfortunate that the Labour Party we are dying for is not far different from PDP and APC we are condemning.”
“I wonder why Labour Party or whoever sponsoring this crisis will want to impose candidate on us like PDP and APC after we carefully elected Edeoga as the gubernatorial candidate but we must fight and reject this imposition.”
A similar crisis is rocking the Lagos Chapter of the party where the party chairman, Mr Ifagbemi Awamaridi, is challenging the purported emergence of Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour as its governorship flagbearer.