MEET FRANK OSHANUGOR
By Frank Oshanugor & Biola Yesufu
As the Labour Party’s (LP) presidential candidate in the 2023 election, Mr. Peter Obi’s candidacy is gaining wider acceptibility in the nooks and cranny of the federation, a Chieftain of the Labour Party in Lagos, Prof. Ifagbemi Amawaridi has alleged a grand design by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its presidential candidate; Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to disorganise LP in Lagos.
Speaking in an exclusive interview on Monday with AtlanticNewsonline on phone from Abuja, Amawaridi who has been the Labour Party Chairman in Lagos and the 2023 Governorship candidate said Mr. Kayode Ezekiel Salako who recently announced himself as the caretaker Chairman of Labour Party is not a registered member of the Party but a well known member of APC who had declared in television interview (trending on social media) that he can never be against Tinubu.
According to Amawaridi, a Professor of Digital Ifa, Ifa Research Centre, in Brooklyn, New York United States of America, a sister to Salako’s wife; Foluke Daramola-Salako, (NollyWood actress), works in Tinubu’s residence and they all eat and drink there. “So it is not hidden that Salako is strongly a Tinubu man ready to do his bidding anyday.”
“It is very clear that Tinubu and APC sent people like Salako to block me. They have seen that my candidature as LP Governorship candidate in Lagos is almost automatic, hence they are doing everything to stop me.”
“In 2019, APC offered me N800million to serve as a mull for the party while in my position as Labour Party Governorship candidate in the election, but I rejected the offer as I insisted that I was contesting to win as the Governor.
“That was why they changed our polling agents at the polling booths because they initially wanted the agents’ cards but it turned out futile. We went to Election Tribunal on this, and many other things including the fact that APC in Lagos collected about 20% of the election materials from the Central Bank of Nigeria unlawfully.
“Due to the irregularities brought to bear on the governorship election results in Lagos in 2019, Labour Party took the matter to the Electoral Tribunal, proceeded to Court of Appeal up to the Supreme Court. The case was in our favour even as the Supreme Court ordered for a re-trial at the Tribunal since it was evident that we had a good case. We won again even up to the Supreme Court a second time which was an uncommon feat.”
Speaking about Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour who a few days ago was announced as having emerged the Labour Party’s Governorship candidate for Lagos in the 2023 election, Amawaridi said “the issue is two ways. One is that the candidature of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State has been taken over also by Tinubu through Mr. Jandor who currently carries the party’s flag as its Governorship candidate. Every body knows that.
“Those who wanted to follow Ramon Owokoniran included Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour; a member of their caucus working for APC and Tinubu. So they sent Gbadebo as a Governorship candidate to block me just as Salako was sent to block my Chairmanship position.”
According to him, “I am really not surprised because this is politics. I never expected that Tinubu who already knew me and my chances of emerging the next governor, would just be looking at me. I expected all these intrigues and I have always prepared for them.”
If there is anything that worries Amawaridi in all of this, it is the fact that his Labour Party leadership at the national level is complicit in the scheme to rubbish the chances of Peter Obi becoming the next president of Nigeria.
In his words, “though I am prepared to face Tinubu, yet the sad aspect of the situation is the involvement of some national officers of Labour Party. However, I am not surprised because they believe in cashing out. They do not believe in winning election as they have always cashed out.”
“What has put them in a fix now is the Peter Obi phenomenon which is fast changing the political landscape. It came to them as a surprise and it is not easy for a leopard to suddenly change its skin. They are used to cashing out but seem to have been boxed in, by the Obi phenomenon.”
“If I had told them that this Governorship ticket I have now, I want to discuss with Tinubu and he would give me N1 billion out of which I will give the officials N200million to share, they will jump at it because this is what they are used to. Unfortunately Peter Obi’s popularity has become a stumbling block, though they are still smarting because some money has been collected.”
“It happened in Ekiti and Osun. In Ekiti, the National Financial Secretary of Labour Party was the Governorship candidate. There was no noise because they believed they were going to use him to negotiate with APC or PDP. In Osun, it was the same thing. The National Legal Adviser was the Labour Party candidate. He won the Governorship ticket but sold it. That is what they have been doing. I mean the National Chairman and National Secretary of the Labour Party.”
Prof. Ifagbemi Amawaridi, a private detective who once won award as the best detective in Brooklyn, USA in 1992 is a man of many parts and has remain committed to seeing things done the right.
With a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics with bias in Econometrics and Accounting from University of Lagos, a Masters in International Law Diplomacy, an LL.B and other higher qualifications, Amawaridi is well equipped intellectually to confront the challenges of Governorship in Lagos. He is also a celebrated spiritualist and has some deep knowledge in information technology.
He has therefore called on his presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi to carefully look into the issues of comprise within the national leadership of LP as attempt by Tinubu to disorganise the party in Lagos has the connivance of LP’s national chairman and national secretary both of whom issued a backdated document to Kayode Ezekiel Salako purporting him to be Labour Party’s Lagos State Chairman when infact, he is a known member of APC.
According to Amawaridi, the danger in what the national officers of LP have done as a result of money purportedly paid to them by Tinubu, is that with the backdated document issued to Salako making him Lagos chairman of LP who assumedly led delegates to Asaba while his (Amawaridi’s) tenure has not elapsed, is capable of negatively affecting the chances of the party due to legal technicalites associated with it, if provisions of the amended Electoral Act are anything to go by.
The Professor posited that as the sitting chairman of LP in Lagos, he was the one who led the delegates who assembled in Asaba on 30th May, 2022 to elect Obi as the party’s presidential candidate. He therefore wondered why the party’s National Chairman and his Secretary should sell out their integrity by issuing a document to Salako purporting him to have become the Caretaker Committee chairman of Labour Party with effect from 18th May, 2022 at a time the same Salako as APC member was granting interview affirming his loyalty to Tinubu.
Amawaridi has therefore reminded his party leadership that if they fail to vitiate the document already issued to Salako upon which he now parades himself as the LP Lagos Chairman, the party would have completely fallen into Tinubu’s booby trap because some national officers have compromised themselves.