By Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis
The National Publicity Secretary of the Labour Party, Obiora Ifoh, tells ADEBAYO FOLORUNSHO-FRANCIS about LP leadership’s conviction that the APC was preparing for a rerun
How did your party come about the claim that the APC was planning a rerun as fallout of the ongoing presidential election petitions tribunal?
The Labour Party National Chairman (Julius Abure) a few days ago had a virtual chat with our members in the Diaspora, especially those in the United States, United Kingdom, Europe, Asia and across the world. In the process, the issue of support for the party came up. That was where the party’s national chairman responded, trying to alert them and other members of the Nigerian public that he got credible information that the APC-led government, knowing that they had no chance in the ongoing case, resorted to pressure for a rerun. Abure said this because he doesn’t want our members to be caught unawares.
Why not just restrict such information to your members alone as against taking it to the media?
How do you determine members of the party that are out there? We don’t have a way of meeting them one-on-one. In fact, most of the people that worked with us and voted for us are not even members of the party. Nigerians voted for the Labour Party and it was on the strength of their support that we made an impressive showing at the election. So, we thought it best to let them know the cover plans that the ruling APC is plotting. I think it is apt and proper to let them know in order not to be caught unawares. That was exactly what the national chairman did by putting it out there and he has been hailed for this in several quarters. After the election, tempers have been high. But, of course, because of the tribunal, some members are not being carried along except in social media and they are wondering why this case is prolonged. We are making efforts to continue to inform them to be patient. The onus is also on us as a party to let them know the plans of the other side so they will be ready with their PVC and support.
Was this information divulged from a member of the APC?
Are we supposed to tell you the source of our information? We have just told you that credible information was made available to us. If it is not credible, we won’t be telling Nigerians about it. Labour Party is a very serious platform and we have various members across parties in Nigeria and people are willing to give us what we need to work. We are not under any guise trying to pre-empt the outcome of the tribunal. What we simply relayed was what was out there, what the hierarchy of the other party was thinking and we simply let it out.
Do you have faith in the tribunal?
The tribunal is manned by credible judicial officers and we have absolute faith and trust in the judiciary that they are going to do what needs to be done. In our own thinking, we came first in the election and we went to the tribunal. Before then, each time we complained, we were told ‘go to court’. So we went to court with enough evidence to show that we won the election and we asked the other people to come up with their evidence, but they couldn’t.
So, we are not asking for any rerun. We are asking that our mandate be restored to us. It is that simple. We are not under any guise asking for a rerun. We were only telling Nigerians what these other people were thinking and plotting. Our request is very clear. We won the election but they stole our mandate. So, restore our mandate. We have proved beyond reasonable doubt that we won.
Shouldn’t that be left to the court to decide if you won the election or not?
That is what we have done. We have done our part by presenting our evidence. It is now left for the tribunal to decide. Whatever the court decides, we will stand by it.
As you have alleged, why do you think the APC would prefer to have a rerun?
It is because they don’t stand any chance based on the facts on the ground.
Why is it difficult for LP to accept the outcome of this election?
I believe you are a Nigerian and an adult that has witnessed an election conducted in Nigeria. I remember in April, 2015 when the then President (Goodluck Jonathan) saw how things were going, he conceded defeat and Nigerians went home happy. The losers took it well in their stride and the winners went on celebrating. There was no crisis. How will anybody be proud to say this 2023 election was the freest election in Nigeria? We know the truth. What happened during the 2023 election was worse in the annals of Nigeria’s election. It has never been that bad. We came up with a fantastic idea of IReV (INEC Result Viewing portal) and some other technologies, but INEC failed to deploy them.
What’s your position on the EU report?
The EU report was apt. It captures the whole essence of the 2023 presidential election. Not just the EU, several other international bodies have also given their position on it. We all were participants and witnesses to what went down. Which one should we talk about? Is it the violence and open threats to voters?