EMMANUEL MGBEAHURUIKE reports that the South East is in the process of gaining grounds for President Muhammadu Buhari come 2019.
At the twilight of the campaign for the 2015 general elections, the All Progressives Congress (APC) was largely dreaded as an anathema in the South East.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which bestroded the zone and the South-South did not make any pretence to brand the broom wielding party (APC) as a bull in a China shop which lacked any value for purchase by the public.
Thus, basking in the euphoria of an incumbent South-South presidency adjacent to their door step, the people stuck to the umbrella party (PDP) as the messiah.
But to Governor Rochas Okorocha, now largely acclaimed by the Imo electorate as the Nostradamus of the time who saw tomorrow, taking the South East to the then fledging political enclave (APC) is a sine qua non to liberate them from their shackles of neglect, deprivation and re-launch them into the main stream of the nation’s body politics.
Undeterred by the diatribes of tribal jingoism conceived and ceaselessly dished out to the impressionable electorate to pollute their minds about the APC, the governor remained resolutely unwavered in his gospel of liberation through the party. However, the eventual electoral victory of President Buhari in the election, not only raised the political dignity of the rescue mission governor to a higher horizon, but also endeared him to the people of the zone.
The mechanism put in place by the governor to rebrand and strengthen the party in the zone Tuesday 3rd July paid off when the South East APC organised a mega rally for the president in Owerri, the Imo state capital.
The event held at the imposing ultra-modern Dan Anyiam stadium expectedly turned into a carnival of sort as APC chieftains, supporters and well wishers across the country attended the event.
They included: present and past governors of the party, members of the National and state Assemblies, members of the National Working Committee (NWC) and National Executive Committee (NEC), state coordinators of the Buhari Campaign Organisation, various bodies of South East extraction, friends and lovers of the president.
Senator Emma Anosike (Anambra) recalled the visionary steps taken by Governor Okorocha to launch the South East into the APC train but which was met with reservation by the people leading to the poor outing of the party in the 2015 polls.
“Governor Okorocha has decided to remedy this and the difference will be clear in 2019” adding that the South East campaign for the president was put in place to strongly consolidate grounds for the president ahead of the 2019 polls.
National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole in his remarks said that the erroneous impression created by some forces of darkness that President Buhari hates the South East was criminally conceived to create disaffection between the zone and the president himself. The APC kingpin recalled that the president once had a robust relationship with the late Biafran warlord, Dim Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu on ways to move the nation forward all anchored in South East and North West cooperation.
National chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole in his remarks described the rally as Tsunami of the century that would send shivers down the spinal cord of the opposition.
The former Edo state governor dismissed the 16 years administration of the PDP in the country as a monumental disaster that took the nation several years backward in growth and development, even as he blamed key players of South East extraction in that government for being part of the conspiracy to neglect the zone in the scheme of things.
Comrade Oshiomhole commended the former senate president – Senator Ken Nnamani and his team of democrats for rejecting the 3rd term agenda of former president Olusegun Obasanjo saying “We cannot fix what PDP destroyed in 16 years within 3 years”.
The APC National chairman commended governor Rochas Okorocha for his vision, wisdom and sagacity to entrench the APC in the state and by extension in the South East, arguing that history should be reintroduced in all post primary schools across the country for people to learn from the past.
President Muhammadu Buhari speaking on the occassion lent his support for a president of Igbo extraction in 2023 as being agitated by the South East.
He however averred that the support would be contingent upon the vote which he would harvest from the zone in the 2019 presidential election.
The president debunked the deep seated insinuations in some quarters that he is a Muslem fundamentalist with a pathological hatred against the South East.
President Buhari who spoke through the secretary to the government of the federation – Boss Mustapha said that the South East being part andparcel of the federation has the inalienable right to aspire for the presidency as enshrined in the nation’s constitution.
He said that although the South East rejected him at the polls in the 2015 presidential election, he magnanimously appointed a number of ranking ministers from the zone in demonstration of his spirit of one Nigeria, his compassion and large heartedness for Nigerians irrespective of their tribe and religious inclinations and pleaded with the zone not to repeat the mistake they made in 2015 next year.
The president acknowledged the entrepreneurial ability and potentials of the Igbos in nation building advised them to extend their olive branch to other zones to fastrack the realisation of their 2023 presidential dream.
He argued that the nation is in dire need of an experienced leader to remedy the rots imposed on the nation by the departed PDP administration at the center.
Speaking, the Imo state Governor – Rochas Okorochas extolled President Buhari as a leader with whom the South East is well pleased.
He said that the election of Adams Oshiomhole as the APC national chairman is a beckon of hope for the party, even as he expressed optimism that he would repeat the feat he performed while in office as a governor and as a labour leader.
“We are here to celebrate excellence and South East made a fatal mistake in 2015 because the Igbos by then never believed in President Buhari but today, they are wiser and will not repeat the mistake in 2019”, he assured.
The governor described the isolated cases of intra-party squabbles within the party as part of the beauty of democracy, stressing that “nobody should use this to judge us”.
The governor hailed the gathering as a day the Lord had made saying”
and I am glad for it”.
He added “President Buhari is somebody with whom the South East is well pleased and loved.
“We are here to change our story of neglect and to celebrate Excellence and South East made a mistake in 2015 because our people never believed in President Buhari by then but they will not repeat the mistake in 2019.
There is APC in the SE and it is an act of Iberiberism (foolishness) for anybody to think otherwise.
The support for APC will be total and not just for president in 2019. I urge all APC Aspirants to go ahead because you will enjoy my support”.
The earth – shaking rally attracted APC chieftains from various parts of the country including the former governors of Borno, Bayelsa, Enugu, Kano – Alhaji Ali-Modu Sheriff Musa, Timipreye Sylva, Sullivan Chime and Senator Kabiru Gaya, among others.
Kano State governor –Alhaji Abdulahi Danguje with a goodwill message from the people of Kano described the mammoth crowd that graced the event as a gift from God, even as he hailed governor Okorocha for entrenching the party firmly in the South East.
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