The head of the LP in Enugu, Agbo, said that MPs who defy party orders would come to repent it in an interview

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In this exclusive interview with LEAKNEWS reporter Francis UGWU, Casmir Agbo, chairman of the Labour Party (LP) in Enugu State, discusses a number of topics, including the party’s national leadership problem and the resignation of LP lawmakers from the state’s house of assembly. Key points:

In Enugu State, how has your party been handling its opposition role?

We are making every effort using the means at our disposal. Nothing we don’t have can be given. Unfortunately, we lack the resources of traditional media like newspapers and television to carry this out, but we are making an effort.

Sometimes we have to make special efforts to accomplish our responsibilities. We find ourselves in a similar situation right now, with a ranching law ready to be introduced to the House of Assembly in Enugu State.

Through social media, we have tried our best to inform people that this was the federally rejected proposal under Buhari’s administration. However, I fail to perceive any rationale for Governor Peter Mbah to engage in RUGA or ranching in Enugu State. Untended rice fields may be seen even in his senatorial district, which includes Nara and Nkerefi, among others. A rice mill would provide much-needed jobs and give our people a leg up in their chosen profession. Can you tell me who’s ranching here? Past officials from Enugu State, like as governors and senators, are the majority of the livestock you would see out and about.

The Fulani were hired to herd animals into the wilderness. And you can’t expect the Fulani to construct a ranch for themselves when they so often ruin people’s crops in the villages? That initiative is not the government’s responsibility.

How will the state’s population be engaged in ranching if the government passes a legislation legalizing the practice? I thought it was the Fulanis. During their time as Benue and Plateau States, that is exactly what transpired. The price they paid for selling their property to outsiders is now quite high.

Today, their tears flow freely. These individuals have so much money that they don’t even know how to solve it. They purchase weapons with ease and may earn as much as one billion naira in a day from sales.

Their brothers—DPOs and the Commissioner of Police—are in the police station, so reporting them would simply bring an end to the situation. Therefore, the bill’s logic for creating ranching in the state is lost on me.

When it comes to state opposition, the Labour Party is giving it its all. The elected members of the National Assembly and our State Assembly should reject that law. If they adopt it and then leave office, they could be held responsible for the repercussions that follow. We need their dedication in this matter. It will be past the deadline by then.

Going back to today, both Gowon and David Mark in Benue State are sobbing. Today, every single one of the former Benue chiefs is lamenting the fact that the Fulanis have deposed them. Due to their inactions during their time in office, they no longer possess the authority to intervene.

Any individual who, upon receiving one, two, or sixty million naira, approves a project that would cause the deaths of his people in the future is essentially murdering himself. Not only does the Labour Party need to step up, but the PDP and the APC also need to answer the question, “who is going to gain from this ranching?” Is it going to help our people get jobs? How will it impact us down the road? Therein is the problem. That being said, the opposition isn’t just aimed at the Labour Party; it’s also at the APC, APGA, SDP, PDP, and so on. It is time for everyone involved to publicly reject this doomed endeavor.

Although the LP had a 14-seat majority in the Assembly, they were unable to seize control of the legislative branch. Can you tell me what took place?

I have gone over all of this before. Those elected by the Labour Party have betrayed and sold out on several occasions, as I have stated before. Six of them have already left the Labour Party, and we will soon have our paperwork in order to challenge the application of the law provision that they violated in court. The majority of these men are wards of fate.You are aware that a large number of them lack knowledge when it comes to laws. They were elected solely on the strength of the Peter Obi and Chijioke Edoga wave. Do you agree? Their lack of expertise led them to give in to Peter Mbah, who has now broken his word. “I warned you before that he will just use you and dump you,” I informed them, interrupting their yelling.

The event is taking place. Our mandate will therefore be restored. Our goal is to ensure that everything is in order when we reach the court, so we are moving at a leisurely pace.

The news broke recently that six members of the house had defected to the PDP; how did your party react to this development?

We anticipated it. It did not catch us off guard. We anticipated it and made preparations right after the election. It would have caught us off guard if they had kept quiet about it and kept working with us before abruptly abandoning us. Their departure was obvious to us. We had anticipated that, so it didn’t come as a surprise.

Why didn’t you take them to court when you previously said they’d lose their seats?

The national organization has taken charge of the situation. One of the party’s legal advisors is looking into it.

If they decide to turn around, would your group be prepared to welcome them back?

That is just not feasible, in my opinion. Nobody can even attempt it. “A prodigal son” would have been the conventional choice, but it would have been politically incorrect. Their seats are officially empty as per the legislation. One must remain loyal to the party that elected them, as was the case in Rivers State. Rather than supporting a person, the votes go to the party. No matter how long it takes, we will insist that their seats be declared empty.

You would think the LP would have been better equipped to handle its success in Enugu and other states if it hadn’t lost so many members, including those who defected.

What about the PDP, which is now experiencing member losses across Nigeria? Our politicians are acting primarily out of self-interest; the issue at hand is not one of management but rather of infrastructure.

No organization, no matter how large or little, has flawless management. The capacity to keep one’s balance and make do with one’s resources is what this means. Claiming to be quitting the Labour Party due to management is dishonest. This person’s only goal is to re-enter the ruling party through this. Unaware of the damage they are causing themselves, some of them are urging Nigerians to quit the Labour Party. Their expectations will be dashed in the end.

In Enugu State, the Labour Party is not in a state of crisis. Or, as of today in Nigeria, the court has decided that Abure is the party’s national chairman. Instead of having two national chairmen, we have people who are taking money from the APC and the PDP, respectively, and who are only creating noise. In Nigeria, we do not have any parallel executives.

Given the current state of affairs inside your national party, what is your stance on the subject?

Anyone can make any kind of accusation against anyone else. Someone may stand up and accuse me of embezzling 100 million naira in Enugu State; why can’t they present evidence in court? It is not complicated. It is possible to seek redress in a court of law if the party’s funds have been mishandled. You can’t just make accusations. No, that’s not how it’s done.

An external auditor was present at our most recent national convention at Abure’s behest, reading out the party’s financial report detailing the receipt, expenditure, and remaining balance of all funds. Thus, that is the proper procedure. He accomplished this with the help of an outside auditor. The copy is available for anybody to get, and anyone can dispute anything in it in court. Allow the court to establish the disappearance of funds. We in the Labour Party, on the other hand, do not perceive any financial mismanagement inside our party.

Given that your party advocates against corruption, don’t you believe this problem is eroding your support base?

How you look at things makes a difference. The party will be weakened if the accusation is true. This is why I warned that anybody, including you, may accuse the governor of pocketing ten million naira in a brown envelope.

That would be devastating to your base if it were true. If it turns out to be false, you just keep on working. Therefore, any individual is free to make a claim. The 10 billion naira party money might be claimed by anybody. Who says that and how far he goes to prove it are two separate matters. It is not enough to merely allege corruption; proof of the claim is required.

Is it in your party’s best interest that Abure, your national chairman, has ignored the Organized Labor?

By adhering to the party’s constitution and the law, Abure is doing his job. Both the Labour Party and Organized Labour are distinct organisations, with their own presidents and chairs. All of them have been acknowledged by the CAC. They are legally enforceable entities that have registered with the CAC. Abure and Ajero are both powerless when it comes to the NLC and the Labour Party, respectively.

There has been no subversion of an agreement if one exists. Before anything else, the NLC is well-represented inside the Labour Party, just as the TUC is as well. Furthermore, the law forbids you from assuming control of the Labour Party.

As an example, they reached out to INEC during Ayuba’s tenure and requested clarification on their role inside the Labour Party; the letter is publicly available. The Independent National Election Commission (INEC) informed them that all questions have been answered and that the Labour Party is legally acknowledged as a political party in Nigeria, independent of NLC.

As of this year (2015), the letter is available to the public through our web postings, thus it may be found through an internet search. Back when Ayuba was in office, we made a pact to ensure that they would have a voice in the Labour Party. They even brought a lady in, while TUC sent someone else.

They want to create a crisis inside the party because they are being financially tempted to do so by outsiders, who may be affiliated with the APC or not. Work is not done by those who are ignorant or unintelligent. Abure practices law. The majority of us work as accountants, engineers, or attorneys. This isn’t just some random party where you’re going to try to force your way in.

In my opinion, the Labour Party does not now have a board of trustees as such positions are filled by previous party leaders who have been nominated by different factions. However, Ajero proceeded to choose a former Labour Party chairman who is now a member of the APC as chair of the board of trustees. He appointed a fellow APC campaign committee member as secretary and brought in another man. The source of the whole issue is obvious.

Whatever they’re up to, it doesn’t bother us. The Labour Party has progressed and INEC has acknowledged the NWC headed by Abure.

As an example, we had primaries in Edo, where Olumide Akpata is running as a Labour Party candidate. At first, they claimed to be from the Labour Party and sent over the name of one individual via Lamidi Apapa’s group. But now everyone knows that Olumide Akpata is the one. Everything is being planned to throw off the celebration, but we aren’t swayed by it since we know what’s going on. We begin to diverge the moment you pay attention to them.

In light of the recent events surrounding SUVs and other vehicles, how would you rate the congressional representatives from your state who were elected under your party’s banner?

The national body had a meeting and told them to refuse the SUVs; nonetheless, they proceeded to collect them anyhow, citing their autonomy and discretion as reasons. Plus, you can’t beat or punish them or compel them to do anything.

“Party advised on this and you did not do this” will be an appropriate defense when it comes time to penalize them. On that matter, the party has remained mute. The other side will respond when the moment is right. To boost local content, the first use of the funding would be to support their constituents, or to purchase an Innoson car with half of it. Now the remaining funds would be distributed to low-income kids in their districts through scholarship programs.

They really received the payment in hard currency. The vehicle was not bestowed upon them. Despite the party’s principles, some of its members spent the funds on extravagant automobiles for hundreds of millions of dollars and even ninety million. The parties will respond appropriately, but they acted on their own judgment.

Although I might not be able to go into detail about their performance, I will give them a poor mark for party decisions. The group has requested that they inform the group of their actions, regardless of what they may be. Doing it for fun won’t cut it; the party will keep track of your every move. The public is dissatisfied with their actions. Yeah, I’m aware that people are moaning about the politicians we elected being too haughty on social media. Their tenure in the National Assembly has only lasted 10 months, as I mentioned before. We will evaluate them after another year. All we’re doing is following their lead.

Is the PDP’s leadership in Enugu State anything you can evaluate?

You can’t offer from a place of lack, after all. Leadership is something the government is completely uninformed about. Plus, they’re acting in accordance with their best knowledge.

Governments cannot provide what they do not have, in my opinion. They are lacking it. Their actions are nonexistent. Their initial assurance was that Enugu State will have access to water within six months, or 180 days. You have to go to New Market, where they have the borehole, to acquire water up to now. On sometimes it runs, on other occasions it does not. Therefore, Enugu state does not have any water. What they have been doing for the past twenty-four years—laying pipes—is still being done.

From the Oji River all the way to the 9th Mile, it came to a halt during Sullivan Chime’s reign. While President Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi was in office, we witnessed this as he laid pipes in certain locations. Now the pipe-laying government has arrived. Is it going to take an age for them to finish laying these pipes?

When it comes to building roads, what they are doing is a disgraceful mess. The next time it rains, it will be gone. We will be fortunate if it lasts even a year, much less two years. People in general aren’t making things better, unfortunately. In exchange for crumbs from the governor’s table, some of them are building up support for themselves. There has been a complete breakdown of leadership in Enugu State.

First of all, the governor is not accessible. Zoom is what the governor uses to view you. He is known as Zoom by the people of Enugu State. The governor is inaccessible to everyone.

You are aware of the security incidents that have taken place in places like Ezeagu, Eha Amufu, Nimbo in Uzo-Uwani, etc. Along the Opi-Enugu route, the Opi-Nsukka-Ugwogo Nike road, and wherever else, kidnappings have occurred. Hostage taking on the Ebe-Ukana-Okpatu route. Medical officers at UNTH abducted; many of them have not been heard from since. What on earth are we discussing? Simply said, we are here today because of God’s grace. If you aren’t certain in your return, don’t go out. Everyone in the state is always on edge. The results are inconclusive.

They informed us that SMART schools are being constructed. Who needs SMART schools anyway? Does it pertain to the deceased? Well, I’m sure there are programs you’ll implement and receive praise for, but I have a question: are the instructors at SMART schools well compensated? Schools will continue to serve only as a gathering place for people to come, argue, create noise, and then go if teachers are not well compensated. The current administration is nothing more than a consolidation of our previous policies, as all these things have demonstrated.

What are your thoughts on the policies and programs put out by the Tinubu administration, which will soon be celebrating its one year in office?

During Tinubu’s brief tenure as president, his administration has failed miserably. The public is eagerly anticipating Buhari’s return. As if every time a president steps down, the one behind them is much worse. People are being targeted by Tinubu’s policy. For the life of me, I can’t fathom how all of his actions will benefit him.

Witness the destruction of properties valued in the billions of naira along the Lagos-Calabar coastline line. The person deserves time, compensation, and the option to relocate, even if demolition is your goal. However, they went and destroyed property where many people are eating due of his anti-Igbo stance. Employees have been there for quite some time. Some of these individuals may turn to crime as a result of being rendered obsolete. A government that is ill-informed would pursue such a policy.

Floating the naira is so innocent; what gives you the right to do that? He should be able to outlaw the usage of the dollar in Nigeria. He ought to outlaw the usage of dollars within the nation, with the exception of foreign nationals making purchases at the embassy. Just picture it: the governor is footing the bill for his children’s schooling in dollars, and the government still hasn’t shuttered the school—so technically, everyone is to blame.

We are fooling ourselves, but why? Their policies are not in the best interests of the people. That people are suffering is something he ought to grasp.

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