Controversy Surrounds Peter Obi’s Meeting with LP Lawmakers on National Assembly Leadershi
Ahead of the upcoming National Assembly inauguration, Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), held a meeting with lawmakers elected under the party’s banner in Abuja. The purpose of the meeting, held separately in the Wuse and Maitama districts, remains unclear, with conflicting reports about the support rallied for certain candidates. Supporters of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) claim that Obi and his running mate, Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, sought support for Muktar Betara as House of Representatives Speaker and Abdul’aziz Yari for Senate Presidency. However, a member of the LP, who attended the meeting, insisted that they were instructed to vote against Tajudeen Abass and Godswill Akpabio, the adopted candidates of the APC.
Speaking anonymously, the LP member revealed, “Datti unequivocally stated that we can’t vote for Tajudeen Abbas, Akpabio, or any other candidate supported by the APC. He alleged that Abbas was endorsed by the APC to suppress him, just as Benjamin Kalu was endorsed to suppress Alex Otti in Abia State. The meeting ended without reaching a resolution, and another meeting took place on Monday with Obi present. Obi endorsed Yari for Senate President and Betara for Speaker, pressuring all LP members-elect to vote for them. Some of us voiced our disagreement, stating that we should be allowed to make our own choices.”
However, Victor Ogene, a prominent LP member and spokesperson of the House Minority Caucus, dismissed the claim as baseless. Ogene clarified that the meeting was not at Obi’s behest but was called by the national chairman, Julius Abure. Obi, as the national leader of the party, was invited to attend. Ogene emphasized that Obi did not mention any specific aspirant during his speech and encouraged the members to engage in discussions under the guidance of the national chairman and caucus leader.
In a separate development, with just six days remaining until the National Assembly leadership elections, the top contenders for the Senate Presidency are engaging in political maneuvers to gain an advantage. Supporters of Yari have alleged that Akpabio is losing due to his alleged hostility towards National Assembly members during his tenure as Niger Delta Minister. Senator-elect Samaila Kawu from Kano South claimed that those supporting Akpabio had previously violated parliamentary rules and traditions, which he deemed detrimental to democracy. On the other hand, former Senate Leader Mohammed Ali Ndume refuted these allegations and expressed confidence that Akpabio would emerge as the next Senate President. He dismissed speculations about Akpabio’s Campaign Organisation making desperate pleas to senators-elect.
Meanwhile, a senator-elect, who wished to remain anonymous, confirmed withdrawing support for Akpabio, stating, “I have withdrawn my support for Akpabio, and many others have done the same. It will become evident on the floor. Although I held Akpabio in high regard, I cannot support him for the Senate Presidency. How can he preside over an institution he once described as a cesspit of corruption, after benefiting from the same institution?”