From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja

Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate Mr Peter Obi has said that the 2023 presidential election must not be based on entitlement, religious, ethnic and other sentiments.

Obi stated this at the party’s ongoing leadership retreat at Chida Hotel in Abuja.

The presidential candidate unveiled the LP’s portal and free membership cards for those who want to join or support the party, stating that people must not borrow to contest elections in the country.

According to him, “the election next year must not be based on religion or ethnicity. It must not be based on connection. It must not be based on ‘turn’. It is nobody’s turn.

“The election next year must be based on competence, capacity and commitment to start turning around Nigeria,” he stated.

Unveiling the items Obi said: “We are building a party where people do not have to borrow money to contest.”

The portal is supposed to give access to Nigerians to register, support or donate to the party from all parts of the world.

Speaking on the issue of the ongoing industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the LP’s flag bearer said “Sometimes you ask yourself what is wrong with this country? The reason why ASUU is on strike did not start today. They have actually been on strike severely for this same issue since 2009. I remember they were on strike for this same issue while I was a governor and the money they were [requiring was’ just about N1.3 trillion. Do you mean the Nigerian government cannot afford 1.3 trillion to give ASUU for the past 12 years?”

On the issue of oil theft in Nigeria, he said: “Oil is not sweet that you can just put in your pocket. For you to steal oil, a ship must sail into your territory, the Navy must approve the ship. So who is approving that? Who is stealing the oil?”

Earlier in his welcome address, the party’s National Chairman, Barr. Julius Abure, said the retreat which was themed, “Nigeria at a Cross-Road, Labour Party as the Only Option”, was aimed at reviewing the party’s successes so, challenges and constraints and designing the road map to winning the 2023 general election.

Read also: Votes will count in 2023 elections, INEC promises

He further decried the economic and security situation of the country, adding that the Labour Party has been given the opportunity to rise to the occasion and help put Nigeria back on the right track
“It is now visible that the country is not performing. Anywhere one looks, we can find sectors and systems that have failed completely or are regressing badly. One such critical sector is the security and welfare of Nigerian citizens.

“Insecurity has affected every facet of our reality. Lives are lost across the country on a daily basis. Crime and criminality, from kidnapping to terrorism, armed robbery to banditry are becoming more and more commonplace. On the 5th of July 2022, the Kuje prison in Abuja was attacked by gunmen and an unspecified number of prisoners escaped. A few days before, a number of policemen were killed by unknown gunmen in Suleja. Suleja! Suleja, is less than 20km away from Abuja, the seat of government, our capital city. I don’t want to focus on the shortcomings of our present leaders as they are apparent to all but the current government was voted into power following their promise to improve the security of lives and properties.

“If you speak to the average Nigerian under the age of 35, the majority of them are interested in leaving the country for greener pastures, they want to “japa” as they say. The hard reality is that the current state of the nation is not welcoming. International airlines like Emirates are suspending their operations, local airline operators are choking, and flight prices are at ridiculously high levels, food security is being challenged and prices of everyday items like bread and rice are skyrocketing. The naira is falling almost as fast as the balance of our external reserve account. Salaries and small business revenues are not increasing, the latest World Bank Poverty Assessment states that poverty reduction figures have been stagnant since 2015.

“We can see that the current leadership is overwhelmed by the challenges of the country. Our country is in free fall, and we cannot afford another 4 years of business as usual.

“Labour party has risen to the occasion of providing effective, dynamic and proactive leadership. Peter Obi’s emergence as a presidential candidate has brought a lot of new registrants into our fold and transformed the 2023 context into a National Movement. THE OBI-DIENTS.”

Speaking on the party’s challenges, Abure said: “In spite of our achievement, we are faced with some challenges. Funding of party programmes is a major challenge confronting the party.

“The party logo is also not well known to all. Many supporters want to vote for the party, but do not know the logo of the party. We have outlined a number of programmes that will help popularise our logo as soon as funding is available.”

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Source: news