Ahead of the 2023 general elections, Nigerians have been calling for an alternative to the two major political parties, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The disappointment in the two major parties and the woes that have befallen the country led to the quest for an alternative or Third Force.
The call for an alternative party or, simply put, a ‘Third Force’ led some notable Nigerians to form groups like the Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM), the Nigeria Intervention Movement (NIM), the Alliance for the Defense of Democracy (ADD), the Rescue Nigeria Movement (RNM) and the National Consultative Front (NCFront).
Among the groups, the NCFront, unveiled in 2020, offered a semblance of seriousness due to the prominent Nigerians that promoted the movement. Former Kano Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso also spearheaded the National Movement (TNM).
However, TNM metamorphosed into the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) with Kwankwaso as its presidential candidate and Archbishop Isaac Idahosa as his running mate for the 2023 presidential election. The NNPP is also fighting for the ‘third force position’ with the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Labour Party (LP), and other parties.
Naija News understands that the NCFront attempted to midwife a merger between the LP and the NNPP to face both the ruling APC and the opposition PDP, but the merger collapsed due to position sharing.
NCFront Adopts Labour Party
However, after 15 months of discussion and engagements, six parties under the banner of Allied Political Parties and the NCFront, on May 22, 2022, adopted the Labour Party as the flagship party to present a joint presidential and other candidates for the 2023 elections.
Speaking during a press conference in Abuja, Utomi said the adoption of LP followed the new rapprochement between the leadership of the Labour Movement and the party’s hierarchy.
Utomi said that the third force comprised the 36 political commissions of both the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), structures of the congress of Nigerian Professionals and the My Great Nigeria Project, the Network of the concerned professionals.
However, on 27 May 2022, the LP witnessed a reawakening following the defection of the former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, from the PDP to the party. On June 3, 2022, Obi emerged as the 2023 Presidential candidate of the LP at a presidential primary held in Asaba, the Delta State capital. He also chose Datti Baba-Ahmed as his running mate.
Social Media Support For Obi
Since Obi’s emergence, the membership and support for the LP and Obi have increased drastically on and off social media across the country. Supporters of Obi, famously called ‘Obedients,’ consisting of celebrities, entrepreneurs, and students, have started mobilizing support and creating awareness for the former Governor of Anambra State.
Some youths have gone to the length of printing the name and picture of the LP and its Presidential candidates on shirts, towels, and other items. While others are raising donations online for the forthcoming campaign of the former Anambra governor.
How far Can LP As ‘Third Force’ Go Against APC, PDP?
With the adoption of the Labour Party as the Third Force, the NCFront said it had since commenced the fusion of its structures of over 20 million members and supporters nationwide into the Labour Party.
However, the LP would need to penetrate villages and towns to create awareness and mobilize support for Obi to win the 2023 presidential election. Also, there is also the question of whether the LP and its presidential flagbearer are bringing to the table something sufficiently fresh, believable, and worth the attention of a thoroughly disappointing Nigerian electorate.
There are also issues about whether adopting LP as a third force can defeat the APC, which has Bola Ahmed Tinubu as his presidential candidate, and the PDP, which has Atiku Abubakar as his flagbearer.
In a chat with Naija News, media aide to the LP presidential candidate, Emeka Obasi, stated that the LP has all it takes to defeat the ruling APC and the PDP in 2023.
He also dismissed claims by opposition parties that the LP does not have any structure to win the election and that Obi supporters only exist on social media.
He said: “Labour Party is going to go very far. What is the structure that the opposition makes so much noise about? The Structure is the people, they are human beings. These are the people who will stay at the polling booth and monitor the votes so the party is not shortchanged in any way.
“I bet you today, if the election is held today, you will see massive Labour Party followership. It is not all these kinds of things that parties are paying agents up and down. You will volunteers all over the polling units in this country to monitor and make sure there is n rigging.”
Also speaking on the matter, Chairman Buhari Media Organisation (BMO), Niyi Akinsuji, said that the LP is not a threat to the APC because the ruling party had achieved so much to be re-elected in 2023 and beyond.
He said: “It is a good development for our democracy. In fact, it even shows that our democracy is fast developing as a nation. But the LP can’t be a threat to the ruling APC because our administration has done much to take to the public square. It now depends on the power to tell the voting public what we have been able to achieve as a party.
“So, it is not a matter of threat to the APC, it is a matter of what we have offered and what we can offer beyond 2023.”
In a similar position, the PDP Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Ibrahim Abdullahi, told our correspondent that the LP cannot be recognised as a Third Force.
He said: “I will start by commending and appreciating the determination of those behind the proposed third force for their plans on an alternative platform for Nigerians.
“LP as a Third Force is not a threat to the PDP. PDP does not recognise them. What we do is salute their courage, destination and focus. But certainly, in no distant time, you will not hear about the Third Force.
“They can go ahead and exercise their rights; it is within their fundamental rights as Nigerians. Our constitution provides them with that opportunity, so it’s up to them to do so. But I can assure you that there is nothing tangible that will come out of it.“
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