THE NCP’S FORMATION WAS NOT LIKE ANY OTHER POLITICAL PARTIES IN NIGERIA TODAY
Lagos State NCP
THE NCP’S FORMATION WAS NOT LIKE ANY OTHER POLITICAL PARTIES IN NIGERIA TODAY
LAGOS NCP WITHDRAWS ELECTION CANDIDATES
Statement delivered by Segun Sango, the Lagos State Chairman of the National Conscience Party at a press conference held on Tuesday, March 20, 2007 at Gani Fawehinmi Chambers, 35, Adeniran Ajao Estate, Anthony Village, Lagos.
The National Conscience Party (NCP) was formed in defiance of the military martial laws of the murderous late General Sanni Abacha. For its acts of conviction and courage in this respect several of its leaders at national and chapter levels were, as a result, arrested and put in indefinite detention without trial on several occasions. Right from its turbulent beginning, the party took decidedly pro-masses’ stands and as such, chose “abolition of poverty”, a major affliction of the masses, as its central motto. Severally and collectively, the NCP members under the leadership of its founding chairman, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, played a lot of crucial roles in the masses struggle against military dictatorship, which eventually brought about the current so-called democratic dispensation.
Such was the distinct pro-masses’ features and character of the NCP that the succeeding civilian rulers spent over 3 years fighting against its recognition as a political party under the 1999 constitution. In fact, it took titanic legal battles spear-headed by Chief Gani Fawehinmi himself and several mass protests by NCP members across the country and, most especially in Lagos State, before the Supreme Court finally decided in favour of the NCP and others that went with us to court. However, despite the short time between the period when NCP was given constitutional recognition and the 2003 general elections, the party was able to fill candidates in many parts of the country and the South-West states in particular. Chief Gani Fawehinmi himself ran for Presidency. Despite its extremely inadequate financial position and the mindless manipulations and riggings by the ruling PDP, ANPP and AD, which characterised that elections, NCP, nonetheless, performed creditably well with many change-seeking elements and youth promising to vote en-mass for the party come 2007 elections. Then, the common refrain often said to NCP electoral canvassers was something like this: “NCP has come too late for this election, but don’t worry, you are the party of the future”. Most regrettably however, almost all of these hopes and the party’s pro-masses ideals have been virtually dashed and rubbished by the right-wing national leadership headed by Dr. Osagie Obayuwana which took over from Chief Gani Fawehinmi, the founding chairman, in 2004.
For almost all of the time since these right wing elements have taken full control of the party’s national leadership, almost all its activities have been steadily directed towards snuffing the real life out of the party. The most characteristic feature of this right wing leadership, which, apart from Obayuwana, includes notable elements like Messrs Femi Falana, Lanre Banjo, Peter Omoragbon etc., is that virtually every important member of the current NCP NEC has proved incapable of building thriving party activities in his or her respective state of operational location. They are mostly made up of generals without armies at local levels. Precisely because of this unenviable pedigree, the Obayuwana’s right-wing camaraderie has only logically made as its primary task the destruction of the party structures in a few places especially Lagos State where one form of grassroot activity or the other is taking place. The first salvo in this respect was the dissolution of the Adeola Soetan led executive of the party in Ogun State under the guise of “rival excos” (executive committees). This was immediately followed by a kangaroo assembly fraudulently called “state congress” wherein elements handpicked by Lanre Banjo were declared new state executives by a Femi Falana led electoral panel. Today, the party is virtually dead in Ogun state.
In the 2003 general elections, the Lagos NCP contested 97% of the elective posts available for the state. Regrettably, in 2007 when every genuine change seeking person was expecting us to improve on our past performance, we are only able to present candidates for only about one-third of the elective posts in the state. Here, we wish to stress that this downward turn of activity was largely a by-product of the needless war of attrition being waged by the rightwing leadership headed by Dr. Obayuwana against the Lagos State NCP and particularly, its leadership under Segun Sango. Unlike the proud tradition set by the founding chairman, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, the current NCP national leadership has proved totally incapable to make timely and decisive interventions on national economic and political issues especially on those that will have adverse effect on the masses living standards.
Right now, in the peak of feverish political activities and campaigns, little or nothing is being heard from the NCP camp. Here, we wish to stress that the graveyard-like atmosphere, which presently prevails in the party is primarily caused by the treacherous and visionless leadership being offered by Obayuwana, Femi Falana and co. On the one hand, this leadership has pretentiously fielded nominations for some candidates up to the presidency, when its actual strategy is to ensure that the NCP, as a party, does not offer an independent alternative for the masses come the 2007 general elections. Dr. Obayuwana’s right wing leadership has been systematically, since 2004 when Chief Gani relinquished power, killing all the tenets and principle which the NCP stands for. However, the substitution of Mr. Lanre Arogundade, the constitutionally and democratically elected NCP governorship candidate for Lagos State and its replacement with one Christopher Obafunwa, who was not even a party member as at the date he was reportedly picked as governorship candidate is the peak of this betrayal. For all practical purposes and intents, the leadership acts more like an undertaker than any other thing.
In a very brazen, reckless and unconstitutional version, the Obayuwana leadership created a phantom rival exco within the state, which has no single candidate being sponsored for the 2007 elections. Yet, the Obayuwana leadership has no hesitation to present to INEC the governorship “candidate” purportedly elected by these phantom exco in place of Lanre Arogundade, a founding member of NCP and long-standing pro-masses’ radical, socialist activist and a reputable journalist. This, no doubt, is the height of betrayal. Apart from the fact that Mr. Obafunwa was never a member of the party as at the time he was purportedly picked, since then and up till today, this fellow traveller has since gone back to the USA, where he lives.
Today, while parties’ governorship candidates are campaigning and being given opportunities to sell their manifestoes via the media, the fig-leaf, Obafunwa, being imposed by the Obayuwana rightwing leadership is nowhere to be found. He has no poster. He has never appeared anywhere. No field member of NCP can identify him because he belongs to the USA. Here, we wish to stress that this is part of the design of the current rightwing leadership. At the appropriate time, the rightwing leadership poses to railroad the party into an unholy electoral pact which will call on Lagosians to vote for Tokunbo Afikuyomi and the ANNP candidates in consonance of its own support for the ANPP presidential candidate at the national level. As a party, which came third in the2003 general elections in Lagos State, beating the ANPP and other parties, this to say the least, is an unprincipled and a counter-productive approach.
Therefore, against this rightwing manoeuvre and collusion with INEC to rob the party of its properly chosen candidate (chosen at a state congress attended by INEC representative, Mr. Akinwumi Akinbohun and NCP founding National Chairman, Chief Gani Fawehinmi on December 16, 2006), the Lagos State NCP hereby announces the withdrawal of all its candidates for the forthcoming April 2007 general elections. We have come to this regrettable position because of the anti-party activities of the Obayuwana rightwing leadership, assisted by NEC, has become a total obstacle towards the actualisation of the NCP ideals during and after the forthcoming elections.
For us in Lagos NCP, participation in the elections would only be relevant if we have the opportunity to widely campaign for programmes aimed at masses’ betterment. The effective beheading of our campaign in Lagos has massively hindered this.
Sadly however, the organizational and political direction, which the Obayuwana leadership has exhibited in the past almost three years, has clearly shown that there will be no future for the actualization of the NCP original ideals under this kind of national leadership. Consequently, we hereby pass a total vote of no confidence on the Obayuwana, Yunusa Tanko, Femi Falana, etc, led national executive council. Accordingly, we demand their immediate resignations severally and collectively.
Simultaneously, we hereby call on the national founding chairman of the party, Chief Gani Fawehinmi and all other NCP members across the state who still cherish the pro-masses’ ideals behind the formation of the party to stand up now and join forces with us in Lagos State to reclaim the party from the current set of undertakers parading themselves as national leaders.
The Lagos NCP is not retreating for the field of struggle, only from this election. We know that many Nigerians will not participate in these elections. Most of those who do take part will mainly do so because they either vote for what they see as the “lesser evil” or because they are being paid to vote.
We are certain that, like after the 1999 and 2003 elections, new popular struggles will break out and the Lagos NCP will play a full part in striving to realise the masses’ demands and to actualise the “abolition of poverty”.