A chieftain of the Labour Party, Victor Umeh, has said the presidential flagbearer of the party, Peter Obi, cannot step down for Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), insisting that Obi is the one Nigerians are yearning for right now.
Umeh, who is a senatorial candidate of the Labour Party in Anambra State, disclosed this on Tuesday while speaking on the chances of the party in the 2023 general elections on Channels TV.
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Peter Obi and Kwankwaso have been in talks since they both emerged as presidential candidates of their respective parties.
But the merger talk did not succeed over indecision on who should be the presidential candidate.
“The major issue as it stands today is who will become the president and who will become the vice president. I believe this is the time really to advise especially those who are behind the candidate of the Labour Party that for me, I have seen an opportunity for the South East to be relevant in the next dispensation,” Kwankwaso had said on national television on Sunday.
Umeh however expressed surprise that the NNPP presidential candidate is going to the media with the discussion the parties had, stressing that discussions ended on June 15.
“We are surprised at the recent media bliss by the members of the New Nigeria Peoples Party to continuously suggest that they are locked in a negotiation with the Labour Party to have an arrangement where the two parties will work together in 2023.
“We had this discussion precisely on the 15th of June,” he said, adding that the negotiation was on the premise that the two parties could easily win the 2023 presidential election if they worked together.
“When it became obvious that it had become a dialogue between a deaf and dumb person, we called off the negotiation but we didn’t come to the media to say we had a discussion that collapsed.”
He said it was wrong for the NNPP to continue giving the impression that it was still in talks with the Labour Party.
“They said it is Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso that will be the presidential candidate and we consider it not in tune with the current reality.
“If Mr Peter Obi who is being sought after by a broad spectrum of Nigerians to be the presidential candidate will now step down for Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, he will be injuring his reputation.
“The sentiment on the ground is that there should be power rotation between the North and South,” he said.
While highlighting the mirage of problems bedevilling the country, he said Nigerians were yearning for the person who is capable of solving these problems.
He said Obi had been identified as the only person among the candidates that can solve those problems.