2023: Labour Party frowns at absence of APC, PDP at debates

Labour Party has expressed disappointment over the absence  of presidential candidates of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and that of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar at the just concluded Presidential Town Hall organised by Arise TV at the weekend.

The position was as a result of a row that ensued between supporters of LP presidential candidate, Peter Obi and his People’s Democratic Party counterpart, Atiku Abubakar following the absence of the latter who was represented by his running mate, Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa at the engagement. 

The party in a Press Conference on Monday further threatened to shun subsequent invitations unless the candidates of the two major parties commit to attending the next round of debates.

While describing the developer as acceptable, the  Director General of LP Presidential Campaign Council, Doyin Okupe whine addressing journalist at the LP Presidential Campaign Office said that the Presidential Campaign Council has resolved that anything short of the simple, transparent and honest adherence to this basic contract of responsibility, falls short of the standards of fair contest and engagement and could only be interpreted as mischievous evasion of the desired interface with the people.

The former Presidential spokesperson who flayed the PDP’s candidate, said even though the APC presidential candidate was absent at the event, he was honest enough not to have sent a “surrogate like Atiku did.  

He said: “I have called you this afternoon to speak on a growing trend of irresponsibility, arrogance and disregard for the electorate, which has now gone beyond coincidence, and is at risk of becoming the norm.

“On Monday 22nd August 2022 the Nigerian Bar Association invited the leading Presidential candidates to address her Annual Bar Conference and the Nigerian people at this epic occasion, the Presidential Candidate of the APC sent his Vice Presidential candidate to represent him.

“This sparked a protest and rowdy situation by supporters of the other Presidential candidates present.

“The Labour Party Presidential Candidate His Excellency Mr Peter Obi, and the Presidential Campaign Organisation totally condemns this disregard for the electorate and the people, by the these absentee Presidential Candidates.

“The decision to present oneself as a Presidential candidate does not start and end with the purchase, submission of forms and certification as a candidate by INEC.

“It also forebodes on the candidate a high degree of responsibility to present himself for open discussions and explanations on his policies, visions and plans for the people to enable a better understanding and engender an appropriate choice by the electorate in the coming elections.

“These candidates who have assumed the position of emperors and rulers, and not responsible politicians, who are willing to serve and listen to the people, place their position of trust in critical jeopardy by their high horse of arrogance and non-accountability.

“The Joint Ticket in a presidential election, and in a substantive Presidency, is a constitutional provision for temporary or permanent substitution, where the Presidential candidate is primarily incapacitated or otherwise critically unavailable.”

Okupe said their presidential candidates would only be prepared in this election season to mount “the podium with their peers and not with any surrogates or diversionary delegated representation.

His words: “Let us make it clear today, that these recurring acts will no longer be acceptable to the Labour Party Presidential Campaign Organisation.

“We are the ones calling for the change of the system, we cannot participate in the subversion of the system. That will be a total contradiction of our promise to create a new Nigeria. If anybody want to organise a debate and want to base it on deceit, we will not be part of it. Whatever you say and we all agree we will keep to it and we will stand by it.

“It is important that those who want to rule us to tell us what they want to do. You can’t sit down in one place, give money to those who will go out for you and say yes he’s our man. In some places, they will say Ah, don’t worry you have already won. We have gone beyond that and people must ask questions and the candidates must be accountable. This is how societies grow, this is how societies improve.”

He concluded by saying that the party “firmly and irrevocably call on the Nigerian people, in entirety, to reject any presidential candidate that habitually and deceptively treats the rights of the people to hear directly from him, with disrespect, dishonour and ignominy.

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