The Chairman of Edo State Labour Party, Mr Kelly Ogbaloi, speaks with ADEYINKA ADEDIPE on the party’s strengths, advantages and prospects in the 2023 elections
How has it been galvanising your members for next year’s election?
We do what is normal for any political party to do. I can tell you that the Labour Party is not wasting time but galvanising its members and many others who will be useful to us as far as the next election is concerned. The youths, the women, and the men are organised. We are having meetings almost on a daily basis to review our activities in preparation for the election.
Do you think the momentum Peter Obi alone is garnering is enough for your party to win the presidential election?
It is wrong for anyone to believe that only Peter Obi is garnering momentum. All the critical factors are involved as well. Elections are won from the locality at the unit, ward, and local government levels. Don’t forget that the party will run candidates in the election for the House of Assembly, House of Representatives, and Senate.
So, the party candidates will have to go to their localities to seek votes for themselves and also for the presidential candidate. This shows that not only Obi is canvassing for votes but everyone. I believe that all this, put together, will ensure our win at the elections.
How viable and strong is your party structure in the state?
Initially, there were doubts about the viability of our party structure in the state but that has been well taken care of as our structure is all over the place in the state. Party offices are now in the wards and local government areas where none existed in the past. Ward and local government meetings are being held to ensure the structure stays strong. Our structure is concretely grounded, and that is how I can describe the position we are in at the moment.
How prepared is your party for the capital-intensive nature of elections and campaigns?
Our campaign will be launched following all legal patterns for doing so. Therefore, we do not see anything novel in putting up campaigns for elections. The Labour Party may not have been widely accepted by the people in the past but that is not to say that it has not participated in elections and campaigns in the past. So, we can only raise the standard and ensure that it helps us win elections in 2023.
How does the Labour Party plan to dislodge the PDP, APC and other leading political parties in Edo?
In what sense are they the leading political parties in the state? For us, these two parties have brought nothing to the table. They brought poverty, sickness, and all manner of ills into the country. Is that leadership?
As far as the Labour Party is concerned, these parties had nothing that could be talked about. They are already dislodged by their actions because they are infested with their own problems, which are becoming intractable and which they are unable to overcome. How can such parties stand to win elections and deliver to Nigerians?
What problems do you think these parties have that will not help them in the next election?
For APC, the candidates they have presented for the presidential election and other positions are complete liabilities. These are candidates who can no longer win elections because they are spent forces. How did APC become so unfortunate to have even made those presentations without pretending to the country that that is all they could do?
Are you talking about the Muslim-Muslim tickets of the APC?
That is also part of it. But the candidacy does not mean anything to anyone who thinks reasonably of the country. They didn’t need to present this kind of candidate at this time. The one they brought in with so many promises is totally ineffective in governance, and we are suffering. They are now bringing someone with all kinds of misdeeds, and you say that person will bring succour to Nigerians? The PDP is moving from one court to another and is not able to find solutions to their problems.
So at what time would they be able to solve those problems, campaign to win elections, and meet the yearning and aspiration of the people?
How will you rate the present government of the state, taking a look at its programmes?
When a political party midwifes a government, it becomes the government of the people and not that of the political party. Governor Godwin Obaseki may have shortcomings, but his strengths are clear.
Without being immodest, he has done some, and others are yet to be done.
For us, he is a man with conscience because he believes that the government is continuous in terms of taking over the liabilities inherited from past administrations and taking care of them.
That is what Obaseki has done based on what is on the ground. If you look at the programmes started by the previous government, Obaseki is finishing them. Nobody should look at it and say, “He has only been able to finish what others started, which will be to his credit. The state secretariat and the civil service building have been fixed, while some adjoining roads have been tarred compared to what was on the ground before he came, so that credit should be given to him.
Do you feel the allegation that Obi invested Anambra State money in a company controlled by his family while he was governor will dent his aspiration?
You can expect that when some people are drowning, they can take you with them, especially if you are close to them. The people making the allegation are drowning, and they cannot be unconnected with these political parties we are talking about. If they say Obi made such an investment, they should provide proof because I have not seen any.
However, I maintain that Obi is the candidate to beat at this election. They can go on with whatever they are saying, but the ovation about Obi is overwhelming, and that is the problem they have now. It is too late to redeem their image, so they come up with one thing or the other against Obi because they have nothing to offer. For us, the people consider Obi good.
How effective will the Obidient Movement be considering that the collection of PVCs and voting will be crucial in the election?
We are not unmindful of the fact that collecting PVCs and turning out in large numbers on Election Day is crucial to winning an election. However, sensitising the people is also crucial, which is what the Obidient Movement is doing in various states. They are highlighting the ills this government has done to the people and the need to vote for a candidate with fresh ideas as the next president, as well as to let people know that Obi is the best we have.
What is your party doing to consolidate its strong social media presence?
Reports on social media are proof of what is on the ground. Those events on social media are real-life happenings. We are consolidating our social media presence, and that is why the support group is moving from one place to another, sensitising the people. Social media is a reflection of what is happening.
What link does your party have with the Edo PDP, as there are notions that you are being sponsored by the state government?
Let me quickly correct the wrong opinion that the government is a PDP government. The government is that of the people of Edo State, midwifed by the PDP. The PDP as a party, at the point of election, brought in the present government, and the relationship it has with the government of the state is that it is the party that brought it into power.
Whatever political parties are in Edo will also be governed by the government. So I do not see anything wrong with people having personal relationships with the government of the day, even if they belong to a different political party. We should interact to check what the governor is doing. If they invite me for interaction, should I now refuse to go because I belong to a different party? So I do not see such a relationship to mean that the Labour party is an appendage of Edo PDP.
What will you say to members of your party as the elections draw near?
I am telling the members of the party in the state to be steadfast and hold on to their belief in the change they desire. I am also telling would-be members to join the train that will take them to their expected destination to effect the change desired by the people. The Labour Party will bring the needed prosperity that Nigeria seeks.