Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Will Peter Obi’s defection to LP hurt PDP’s chances in 2023?

On Friday, May 27, Peter Obi, a presidential hopeful, formally joined the Labour Party to pursue his aspiration of becoming president of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country. The hopeful joined the party two days after resigning his membership from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The former governor of Anambra left the party just on the eve of its special convention to pick a presidential candidate. Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Bukola Saraki, a former senate president; and Nyesom Wike, Rivers governor; are strong contenders vying for the ticket of the opposition party.

The aspirant said “developments” in the party have made it impossible “to contribute to nation-building efforts through our party.” “It has been a great honour to contribute to nation-building efforts through our party. Unfortunately, recent developments within our party make it practically impossible to continue participating and making such constructive contributions,” he said in his resignation letter to the party. On joining the Labour Party, Obi said he wants to take the “country from [a] consumption to production” economy.


The Labour Party was founded in 2002 – and since it was created the highest position it has won is a governorship election in Ondo state in 2007. Before Olusegun Mimiko won the governorship on the platform of the party, it was largely “obscure” in the country. Mimiko worked hard to put up a structure for the party in Ondo before he won the governorship at the time.

Currently, at the federal level, the party does not have any members in the house of representatives and senate. It also does not have any member who is a governor of any of the 36 states in Nigeria. Looking at the party, it is safe to say that Obi may not be relying on a solid structure to inflict pain on the PDP or even the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The party does not seem to have any strong structure despite the fact that his supporters say they would register in the Labour Party en masse because of him.


A number of aspirants from the southeast and across party lines have declared presidential bids. Of those presidential hopefuls in the southeast, Obi seems to be the preferred aspirant and toast to many Nigerians. Ken Nnamani, a former senate president, Ogbonnaya Onu, a former minister, and David Umahi, Ebonyi governor, are among some of the aspirants from the south-east. With the number of aspirants that have declared in the south-east, it appears that there was no attempt to build some sort of consensus and this may have affected the fortune of any aspirant thought to be close to clinching a presidential ticket of any party.

Many have argued that the former Anambra governor will find it hard to get votes from the north because of the almost non-existent structure of the Labour Party in the region as well as across the country.

Political parties are key to winning elections in Nigeria, hence why APC and PDP are considered major players in Nigeria’s elections. The Labour Party is nowhere when it comes to winning elections. In the PDP, Obi’s major problem would have been to convince delegates to vote for him and if he clinched the ticket, winning the general election may not be difficult because of the structure of the party. Also, in the absence of consensus along party lines, Igbo political players who could have rallied around him to pull some weight even in the Labour Party have pledged allegiance to other Nigerians from different geo-political zones. An example is Orji Uzor Kalu, senate whip, who is backing Senate President Ahmad Lawan’s presidential bid.

If Obi had stayed in PDP, even after losing the presidential ticket, he would likely have emerged as the vice-presidential candidate as he did in 2019. With the aforementioned arguments, Obi won’t cause the smallest dent to the PDP. The move to the Labour Party is one that may even hurt his political career.

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