New Telegraph

Understanding why LP campaign rally derailed in Lokoja

For a party that is increasingly turning itself into a third force in Nigeria, Wednesday December 14, 2022 appeared to be a day of reckoning for the Labour Party as it was forced to call a suspension on its presidential campaign rallies.

The party in an announcement said the scheduled presidential campaign rallies in Ekiti and Ondo States had been put on hold. The suspension came after what many have described as the fiasco on Tuesday of the campaign rally in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital.

Before the Lokoja fiasco, the LP with its horde of trenchant supporters popularly known as Obidients had been everywhere, especially on social media, announcing themselves as the new face of politics in the country.

 

In postponing the rallies in Ekiti and Ondo states scheduled for December 15 and 16 respectively, the party, in an announcement on its official twitter page, said, “Due to some unavoidable and unusual circumstances beyond control, our earlier scheduled Presidential Campaign Rally in Ekiti & Ondo for 15th and 16th December, 2022 are hereby POSTPONED. New date will be announced. We regret the inconveniences caused by this.”

What those unfortunate circumstances were, were, however, not made known. It is nevertheless open to guess that after basking in the momentum and enthusiasm from mostly youths in previous rallies and on social media, Kogi appeared to puncture the narrative of a surging national party. After boisterous rallies in Owerri, Ibadan and a few other states with 10s of thousands of supporters, Lokoja, Kogi State appeared to have disconcerted the Obidients. So what may have accounted for the derailment of the LP rally in Kogi?

Officials of the party have sought to blame bureaucratic procedures in the arrangement for the township stadium from the Kogi State Government. Dr. Shina Byron-Fagbenro, Director of Operations in the Obi-Datti Movement, speaking on Channels Television’s Politics Today programme on Wednesday, December 14, 2022, a day after the uncelebrated rally, confessed that the rally was not well attended.

He also sought to blame a number of logistic considerations in part due to the overzealousness of some government officials for the failure. It is, however, worthy of note that he acquitted the Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, and by that measure, the State Government, of allegation of sabotage as alleged in some quarters. “I can assure you that the governor said that he didn’t know that we were being delayed,” he said.

However, what he didn’t say was that in Kogi State, the arguments that had fuelled the Obidient movement appeared not to have found traction. With a populace apparently satisfied with the good governance that they have benefited from the Yahaya Bello-led administration, it was not difficult to understand why the new gospel propagated by the LP failed to find grip in the hearts of the people of Kogi State, especially the youths.

Against the new narrative of the New Kogi State that is now the cynosure of critical analysts, the gospel of change that has been central to the Obidient Movement appeared to have fallen flat. It was definitely not surprising, given the radical transformation of Kogi State in the last seven years in virtually all sectors of endeavour.

Even the opposition in the state knows that the governor has set a new pace in the development of Kogi State, which his successors must work very hard to keep up with.

With the health infrastructure being boosted through the 300-bed reference hospital in Okene, the Specialist Hospital in Lokoja and ultra-modern Prince Audu Abubakar University Teaching Hospital, Anyigba, it is not surprising that Governor Yahaya Bello is set to turn Kogi State into a centre for medical tourism.

That aspiration apparently resounds with the Obidients’ chant of turning from consumption to production at least in the area of medical services.

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