The presidential candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Rabiu Kwankwaso, on Wednesday, belittled Labour Party (LP), alluding to it as a sectarian party “based on ethnicity and religion”.
Kwankwaso said this during his appearance at the London-based Chatham House, where he spoke on the topic ‘Nigeria’s 2023 elections: Service delivery and policy alternatives’.
Responding to a question about possibly stepping down for Peter Obi of LP, the former Kano State governor, who clearly found the line of questioning offensive, berated his opponent’s party, but not before taking aim at the audience member responsible.
“That’s the problem we have. The gentleman who stood up there, I’m sure he comes from particular group or region, without even asking him,” he said.
“If you have a party which is based on ethnicity and religion – that’s the difference between Labour Party and of course our party which is a national party, New Nigeria Peoples Party.
“While we’re accusing leaders of being one thing or the other negative, I think the followers also must learn how to be Nigerians, not coming from one part of the country.
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“Let me say that I was one of those initially wanting to work together with the Labour Party, but unfortunately at that time, Labour Party was under very serious media hype and therefore they could not see reason.”
Motioning to the audience member, Kwankwaso added, “He’s still not seeing reason.”
The NNPP standard bearer said he wished the participant had not gone so far as to ask about him stepping down for Obi without any mention of either the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“You would have said ‘[step down] to work with Labour or to work with APC or PDP.’ That would have been more responsible. But you cannot come to London. Maybe people here don’t even know what is happening.
“And I want to say that our party, NNPP, is the only grown party in Nigeria today. We have seen the maximum [of] any party, especially the party you mentioned, Labour.
“To us, it’s like Andrews Liver Salt. It just came [all of a sudden]… now, it’s coming down. That’s the reality, just take note of it. And of course, the NNPP, our party, is the only party that is now getting support,” the former Kano governor said.
He asked the audience member to “forget about big, big people who are the actual problem of our country.”
According to him, when it comes to supporters at the grassroots level, the NNPP is “the only party.”
“We have succeeded in locking in northern Nigeria today, in terms of votes, in terms of support. Now, we are working in the southern part of the country.
“For us, the difference between North and South is that North knows us more than the southern part of the country. If you are from the North, I’m sure you wouldn’t have made that statement for Kwankwaso to withdraw for Labour Party.
“Look at my credentials, my brother. I am a PhD holder in civil engineering, and check your candidate, what he has. I have been in the system for over 30 years now. I’ve been a civil servant for 17 years. I wasn’t a trader – civil servant for 17 years!” he said.