Prince Favour Reuben, former chairman of the Labour Party in Rivers State, and currently the party’s deputy national vice chairman, South-South, in this interview with DENNIS NAKU, says Nigerians are angry with the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party, a reason he maintains will catapult his party to victory in Rivers State and the national level in the general elections next year
The 2023 general election is fast approaching. How prepared is the Labour Party?
If there is any political party that is prepared, it is the Labour Party. I don’t think any political party is as prepared as we are. We are moving everywhere. I think the other political parties are just waiting for their money to work for them, while we are working. And they just believe because they are in power, they will use money to entice people but the Labour Party is working at the grassroots. We are doing everything possible all over the country which is why you will see a lot of one million, two million-man marches. They believe Labour Party is just on social media, today they are seeing the physical side. We are inaugurating unit-by-unit operations. So, we are well prepared.
What has been the impact of this unit by unit inauguration?
Because this election we are talking about is a unit election. Transmission of results of the election is done in the units. It is not done in the coalition centre. And that is why we want to hold the units down, and that is why we are working in the units to make sure the unit is well organized. That is what we are doing. That is the reason why the units are growing. This election is a unit election.
Do you think Labour Party has what it takes to take over the seat of power in Rivers State?
I know that you know Nigerians are angry with the two minor political parties today because the Labour Party is now the major political party in Nigeria. The two minor political parties, APC and PDP have left Nigerians very angry because they have been deceiving Nigerians so far. They have brought the country to a precipice. We are in a country where we do not have hope. We are in a country where you cannot think of the next meal. We are in a country where you are not sure of returning if you travel. So, any reasonable human being will know that at this point, a change is needed and not just needed, but urgently needed and that is why I believe that the Labour Party gives hope to Nigeria. This is the only political party that has human feelings, a party that wants to take care of families. These other political parties don’t care. So, every reasonable Nigerian, Rivers man, or South-South man, will think Labour. We want to take this country by force from them.
What difference does the Labour Party intend to bring if it wins the governorship election in Rivers State?
The number one agenda of the Labour Party in Rivers State is job creation. Rivers State is backwards when you talk about job creation. The only thing you see in Rivers State is the construction of bridges. There is no hope for the teaming youths leaving school. Lack of jobs and lack of scholarships for students are big problems. We are going to pay bursaries to students and industrialize Rivers State.
Your party has been criticised in some quarters that you don’t have a structure at the state and national levels. How would you react to that?
I don’t know what people call structure. Structures are those who have stolen money. Is that what you call structure? Structures are people and we have more people than any other political party. We sampled our structure in Rivers State last Saturday. We said we want two million men, and we were shocked to get more than four million people without giving anybody a dime. No party can organize such a massive crowd without spending heavily. So, what do you call structure? So, what do you call structure? Structures are people that are suffering. The structures are the women in the market crying. Structures are the teachers that have not been promoted for years. Our structure is the okada riders, our structure is those pensioners dying on daily basis, our structure is the jobless youths that have finished school without a job. We have more structure than any other political party today. That is why I say the major political party is LP and the others are minor, they don’t have anything. They use money to convince people. As I am talking to you today, major actors in APC and PDP are working underground with us in Rivers State, saying we are going to make sure the Labour Party takes over because we have seen your manifesto.
Earlier, you mentioned the two million-man march which took place in Port Harcourt here. Some people said the crowd was hired. Kindly respond to that
Who hired or sponsored them? Does the Labour Party have that kind of money? We haven’t stolen money from the government. It’s only the two minor political parties, APC and PDP that have stolen money. So, who sponsored them? These are people who volunteered to work on their own, spend their money, buy their food, pay for their transport, hire buses, and make T-shirts for themselves.
We didn’t spend one kobo as a party. If they try to organize a two million-man march in Rivers State, they will spend billions, and not achieve the desired result. The youths have decided to take back their state and country.
How would you assess the administration of Governor Nyesom Wike in the last seven years?
In everything the Rivers State governor has done, I only give him a pass mark in building roads and bridges and that is all. The rest is a failure. We talk of employment, failure; we talk of job creation, failure. Security, I can give him 50 per cent, because if you create jobs, security would be reduced. If you talk of promotion, failure; if you talk of gratuity and pension, failure; Talk of scholarship to the students’ failure; if you talk of education, failure. So, the only thing the governor has succeeded in and I give him a pass mark for, is that he succeeded in building roads and bridges, which is good. Agriculture is zero, the governor pumped in N40 billion last year into revamping agriculture, but did you see anywhere they did it? The money was squandered.
What was the impact of the two million-man march for Peter Obi in Port Harcourt?
Great impact. We discovered that there was an explosion in the party. People that don’t believe that Labour Party exists started rushing in. People started registering, people started calling. They want to identify with Labour Party now because of what they saw. So, what we are having today has even overwhelmed the one we expected. That is why you see in the units, we are having a crowd. In the local government today, we are inaugurating 17 executives in a unit, because there is a massive crowd. So, the two million-man march gave us an edge over every other political party in Rivers State.
The campaigns would be starting in a couple of weeks. What will be the central message your party would be telling the Rivers people?
We have already done the central message by our party principal. We are turning Nigeria from consumption to production. That is what Nigeria needs. That is our central message. That is why I said job creation, industrialization. It is going to be a revolution.
The state chairperson of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Mrs Beatrice Itubo is the governorship candidate of your party. How did she emerge?
Well, she did through due process, and that is why PDP couldn’t take her to court because they know we did a good job. We followed due process and she emerged through the primary. They were two that contested and she defeated the other person, and she emerged as the governorship candidate of Labour Party, and that is why we are working with her today.
A section of the NLC has said she has ceased to be the chairperson of the union following her emergence according to the union constitution. Don’t you think this development will affect her campaigns?
They are lying. There is nowhere in the constitution of NLC that says if you emerge as a winner and want to run in an election you must resign. Labour Party, though formed by NLC, is backed by law and is an entity on its own. Remember, this is not the only time that we have NLC officials running elections under the platform of Labour Party. We have several states, and no state asked them to step down
What is your take on Peter Obi’s recent meeting with Governor Nyesom Wike in London? Are they negotiating something?
It is for consultation. They are just consulting. Remember Atiku went there to consult him. Tinubu went there to consult him. So, it is consultation. Whoever you feel that can be of help to what we are doing, you consult. Remember the Labour Party is not a political party, it is a movement. So, it is envisaged that every Nigerian with a sound mind should be part of Labour party.
As the elections draw near, what will be your message to Rivers people and to Nigerians?
Well, my message is simple. Hope has come. Labour Party is the party bringing hope to Nigeria. Therefore every man who wants to survive, every man who wants to see good education, everyone who wants to see security, and everyone who wants to see a good life in Nigeria should think Labour, play labour, and believe in labour.