There is a growing interest in the gubernatorial race in Edo state particularly as it concerns recent happenings in Labour Party in the state. The interest stems from the entry of Olumide Osaigbovo Akpata, a former Nigerian Bar Association President into the race for the gubernatorial ticket on the platform of the Labour Party, LP.
Keen observers noted that whilst the clamour and sentiment for a candidate of Esan extraction grew loud, there were also louder voices that tilted towards preference for competence, capacity and character.
As a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Olumide Akpata distinguished himself in service. It is no surprise that he is bringing this to bear in his aspiration in Edo state Labour Party.
As is traditional, many politicians simply see their party as vehicle to simply drive their ambition and abandon or show indifference depending on whether they get their party ticket. What Mr Akpata is currently doing in Edo State Labour Party is novel in the annals of politics in the state. At different fora, he has reiterated that his concern for now is about building the party and encouraging other aspirants to do same.
One does not need a political scientist to understand that success can only be guaranteed by a political party that not only boasts of committed party men and women but is also equipped with human capacity and resources.
Recall that in October 2023, he went round the entire 18 local governments of the state to meet with party executives at the State, Local government and ward level.
Akpata’s aim was not only to familiarize himself with the party at the state, local govt and ward levels but also to understand the challenges they face. In the course of the tour, there were three major issues he identified.
First, was the issue of human capacity development of party members especially those who will carry out designated party activities during elections. Key to strengthening the Labour Party in Edo state is building the capacity of party members to understand the electoral system. Consequently, he donated the sum of N3m for Edo South senatorial district human capacity training and challenged the party to organize similar workshops in other senatorial districts.
The issue of mobility was a recurrent issue as it was noticed that party men and women could not embark on aggressive campaigns due to the issue of mobility. The guber aspirant believes that without mobility, mobilising party for the election proper will be quite challenging.
In December 2023, Olumide Akpata toured the 18 local governments again. Many party stalwarts have called this action unprecedented as no aspirant in the current race has toured the state twice in a period of 3 months. This time around, he came to fulfil the promises he made to ensure mobility for party members by donating and transferring ownership of 21 Toyota Sienna Minivans and a brand new Toyota Hiace 2023 model bus to the party.
According to the plan, each local government will have one Toyota Sienna Minivan bus. The state secretariat will have the Toyota Hiace and a Sienna bus and women in the party will have a Sienna bus.
He was not done yet as he recently added another Sienna bus for the Edo South mobilization group.
In the course of the December tour to party executives at the State, Local government and Ward levels, which he called his Christmas visit, he challenged party members to remain committed and focused on delivering the state for the Labour Party. Olumide Akpata used the tour to pledge 26,000 Labour Party branded chairs and 230 Public Address systems to his party to be distributed at the state, local government and ward levels in January 2024.
Political analysts and watchers believe in the notion that no politician succeeds without reasonable investment in the party under whose platform he intends to run. This is what Akpata has done and still continues doing.
The task ahead will be daunting as the Labour party faces an incumbent People Democratic Party at the state and the opposition All Progressives Congress desirous of getting power back. From the look of things, the Labour Party in Edo state appears formidable and resilient. A united and strengthened Labour Party may be the party to watch in the gubernatorial elections in September 2024.
But before that can happen, the party must present a formidable candidate who is committed to its growth and development, a man who understands the challenges the state faces, a man with character and is relatable, a man with a proven pedigree of success. The Labour Party has a choice to make and it must do so between now and February 24th 2024.