With 7 Senators-Elect in the 10th National Assembly, the Labour Party can be described as the party with the most dark horses in the February 25 National Assembly Elections.
This piece examines the political antecedents of these ‘Obident lawmakers’ in the next Senate and how they secured victory at the general election.
Taunted as a party without a ‘structure,’ the Labour Party left many in shock at the February 25 National Assembly Elections as it emerged as the biggest winner outside the two mega parties.
The Party for Social Democracy (PSD), the original name under which the party was founded in 2002, was officially changed to its current name Labour Party after the 2003 general election. Until now, the party was an obscure party, with very little presence in the 36 states and the FCT.
However, one most shocking outcome of this election is the fact that the party unseated a couple of serving lawmakers, including principal officers. This was made possible through its leverage of immense support from the youth population under the aegis of the ‘Obidient Movement,’ anchored on the popularity, acceptance, and love for its Presidential candidate, Peter Obi.
Obi, a two-time governor of Anambra State, had, on May 27, 2022, in the build-up to his emergence as the LP Presidential candidate, joined its fold after resigning from the PDP, leading the party to witness a sharp increase in membership and support.
Here’s a profile of the seven Senators-Elect of the party for the 10th National Assembly as declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
- Ezenwa Francis Onyewuchi (Imo East Senatorial District)
The only incumbent Senator on the platform of the Labour Party (LP), the lawmaker representing Imo East Senatorial District, defeated Uche Onyeagocha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to retain his seat in the next Assembly.
First elected to the Senate in 2019, he sponsored eleven bills between June 2019 and May 2022, including the Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Bill 2021, seeking to prohibit the payment and receipt of ransom for the release of any person kidnapped, imprisoned or wrongfully confined.
Senator Onyewuchi had previously served as a member of the House of Representatives representing Owerri-Municipal/Owerri-North/West-Federal Constituency of Imo State under the platform of PDP. He was also elected Senator in 2019 on the party’s platform for the first term until he exited the ‘umbrella party’ for the Labour Party in June 2021.
- Darlington Nwokocha (Abia Central Senatorial District)
Popularly known as ‘Darlooo,’ the Abia lawmaker currently represents Isialangwa North/South Federal Constituency in the Ninth House of Representatives, where he chairs the Committee on Insurance and Actuarial Matters.
A former Abia State House of Assembly member representing Isiala Ngwa State Constituency between 2007 and 2015, Nwokocha defeated Augustine Akobundu of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Samuel Onuigbo of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The Abia lawmaker who is serving out a second term in the Green Chamber has, in the last three years (June 2019 – May 2022), sponsored seven bills. He will be replacing former governor, Theodore Orji of the PDP.
READ ALSO: Abia: See list of Winners from the 2023 Senate and Reps Elections
- Victor Umeh (Anambra Central Senatorial District)
He had previously been a founding member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in 1998 and was elected Treasurer of the Anambra State chapter in 1999. He would later resign from the PDP in 2001 and joined the newly-formed All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in 2002.
Notably, he served as pioneer National Vice Chairman (South-East) of the party, National Treasurer, and member of the Board of Trustees (BOT) before his rise to national prominence as National Chairman of the party.
Under his leadership, the party secured Anambra State as its stronghold for sixteen years, just as former governor Rochas Okorocha became Imo governor on the party’s platform in 2011.
In the build-up to the Eighth National Assembly, he attempted a switch to the Red Chamber. Following a period of protracted litigations, he was sworn in as the lawmaker representing Anambra Central Senatorial District on the 18th of January, 2018.
After an unsuccessful attempt at returning to the Senate in 2019, he set out again in 2022 but lost out on the APGA Senatorial ticket; he, however, was edged out in the primaries, leading him to join the Labour Party on whose platform he defeated the incumbent Senator, Uche Ekwunife.
READ ALSO: PROFILES: Ex-Senators making a comeback to the 10th National Assembly
- Tony Nwoye (Anambra North Senatorial District)
A prominent name in the Anambra political terrain, Nwoye, who started his political career as an undergraduate, defeated two-term Senator, Stella Oduah to secure his biggest win yet, in politics.
From being Speaker of the Students Union’s House of Representatives at the University of Nigeria, he went on to become Assistant Secretary of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra State in 2005. He also became Chairman of the PDP State Executive Committee in 2006.
Nwoye would later serve as a member of the House of Representatives, representing Anambra East/West Federal Constituency. He also ran on two occasions for the governorship of the State on the platform of the PDP (2014) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2017.
- Neda Imasuen (Edo South Senatorial District)
Lawyer, Neda Imasuen, is a former Senior Legislative Aide (SLA) in the Eighth and Ninth National Assemblies to Senator Matthew Urhoghide; the incumbent lawmaker representing Edo South Senatorial District.
Having served in that capacity for about seven years, his decision to seek a seat in the Red Chamber led him to join the Labour Party (LP). Largely perceived as a newbie, the Senator-Elect believes he has a vast knowledge of parliament and will be able to deploy the same in providing effective representation for his people.
Interestingly, he will be making history as one of the few legislative aides who will be taking over the seat of his principal in parliament.
Imasuen defeated a former Majority Leader of the Edo State House of Assembly, Matthew Iduoriyekemwen of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and businessman, Valentine Asuen of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
- Okechukwu Ezea (Enugu North Senatorial District)
Lawyer and businessman, the Senator-Elect popularly known as ‘Ideke,’ is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the ‘Obidient Movement’ in the National Assembly Elections as he defeated his political arch-rival and incumbent governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
Ezea, a well-known politician in the state with lots of controversies, has sought the governorship of the Coal City State on more than two occasions, including in 2015, as governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In the build-up to the Senatorial elections, he defected from the APC to the Labour Party (LP) to pick up the Enugu North Senatorial ticket, but also faced a tough battle to emerge as flagbearer of the party in the February 25 elections.
LP’s initial candidate for the seat, Ernest Ugwu, had alleged that his party leadership conspired with Ezea to forge his withdrawal letter and affidavit that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) relied on to replace him; leading to a series of litigations which ended at the Supreme Court in January 2023.
He will be replacing Senator Chukwuka Utazi, who doubles as the Senate Minority Whip, come June.
READ ALSO: 2023: Seven of ten outgoing Governors lose 10th National Assembly bids
- Ireti Kingibe (FCT Senatorial District)
Kingibe, the second female to win a Senatorial election in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), began her career in politics in the 1990s as an advisor to the National Chairman of the now-defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Years later, she ran for the FCT Senatorial seat under the platform of the (now defunct) All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP). Having lost out at the polls in 2003, she further made unsuccessful attempts in 2006 under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and the All Progressive Congress (APC) in 2015 when she withdrew.
The 69-year-old civil engineer, married to a one-time Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, joined Labour Party in 2022 and became their FCT Senatorial candidate for the 2023 Nigerian elections. She eventually defeated the incumbent, Phillip Aduda of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who has been in the Red Chamber for at least 12 years.
READ MORE: IWD: Meet the three female Senators-Elect in the 10th National Assembly