New Telegraph

10th Assembly: LP Reps-Elect Kick As Obi Ask Them To Vote Yari, Betara

…It’s a lie from hell,  LP leader

With exactly a week to the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly, there is confusion in the camp of the Labour Party as its members elect have rejected the directive of its presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi to vote for Senator Abdulaziz Yari as Senate President and Hon. Muktar Betara as Speaker.

Obi is also urging them not to vote for Senator Godswill Akpabio and Senator Jibrin Barau in the Senate and Hon. Tajudeen Abbas and Hon. Benjamin Kalu in the House of Representatives.

The members-elect have also dismissed a similar directive from Obi’s running mate, Hon. Yusuf Datti.

New Telegraph reliably gathered that these disagreements happened at two different meetings held between the lawmakers and Obi and Datti in Abuja.

An LP member-elect who attended both meetings confided in our correspondent that the meeting with Datti was held at Chopstick Restaurant in Maitama while the one with Obi took place at Wuse Zone 5, all in Abuja.

The member-elect who spoke on condition of anonymity revealed that “First, we met with Datti before now, and he said unequivocally that we can’t vote Tajudeen Abbas, Akpabio or any other candidates they (APC) are supporting.

“He told us that Abbas was endorsed by the APC to suppress him and Kalu was endorsed to suppress Otti. The meeting ended in a stalemate. Chopsticks were the venue.

“Another meeting was held on Monday around Zone 5. Obi was present. He (Obi) said he was endorsing Yari for senate president and Betara for speaker, and compelled all LP members-elect to vote Betara and Yari”, he stated.

The member-elect, who condemned Obi’s directive lamented that “Ideologically, he’s (Obi) forcing us. If that is the case, there’s nothing new about LP”

He confirmed that one of the lawmakers-elect has obeyed Obi’s order and has joined that Betara camp. According to him, “He’s able to get one person away from the Abbas project among us. It’s a female. He wants to force us to do what he wants, but no way”.

The lawmaker who said they will be meeting again at the weekend ahead of the inauguration next Tuesday disclosed that “They plan to call us for another meeting this coming weekend, I think on Sunday.

”It will be said that LP has decided to vote for Yari and Betara. He’s telling us that the party is supreme, but how do we support someone that is rebellious against his party?

“If he calls for division, we’ll have the majority, but he won’t do that. At the meeting we held, some of us said we are adults and we should be allowed to make our choices. So, we won’t back down.

“How can Peter Obi that people are shouting his name up and down as a democrat now turn to be undemocratic?”, he queried.

But when contacted, the LP caucus leader in the House of Representatives, Hon. Victor Ogene described the allegations as a lie from the pit of hell.

He said “The insinuation that Mr Peter Obi, national leader and presidential candidate of the Labour Party(LP) is coercing members-elect of the House of Representatives to vote for a particular candidate in the speakership race is a lie from the pit of hell.

“Yes, as a caucus, we met last night, but not at Mr Obi’s behest. The notice of the meeting was sent out by the national chairman of the Labour Party, Barrister Julius Abure, and Mr Obi was only invited as national leader of the party”, he stated.

According to Ogene, “After virtually, all 27 members-elect presents at the meeting had taken turns to speak. Mr. Obi, who was the first to leave because of another engagement, advised members to ensure, as much as possible, that they are united in arriving at a decision regarding who to vote for as presiding Officers.

Ogene who is also the co-spokesperson for the Greater Majority said “Contending that Nigerians place huge expectations on the Labour Party, he lauded the suggestion by a member, to the effect that the members-elect would be making an important statement if they decide to nominate one of them for speakership, and all 35 members vote in that regard.

“Everything must not be about what you can gain as individuals, but rather your place in history as you begin your sojourn in the National Assembly,” Obi said.

Ogene denied that Obi coerced anybody. “Not once, throughout his about 15-minute speech, did Mr Obi mention any aspirant by name. On the contrary, he urged the members to continue talking amongst themselves, under the guidance of the national chairman and the caucus leader”.

The caucus leader reaffirmed that “In fact, for the records, Mr Obi had in his first official interaction with the LP members-elect – soon after they collected their certificates of return – urged them to decide for themselves who to vote for”.

He disclosed that at the time, Obi had advised them that “You are the ones elected, so the onus rests with all of you, to interface with others to choose your leaders. As for me, several aspirants, both in the Senate and the House have been trying to reach me, but I prefer to allow you people to take your fate in your own hands.”

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