President Muhammadu Buhari took his second term campaign to Imo State last week. EMMANUEL MGBEAHURUIKE captures the intrigues.
The intrigues trailing the intra-party squabbles of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Imo State chapter following the controversial primaries of the broom wielding party recently manifested in another dimension.
The event was the one day presidential campaign rally of the party held at the gigantic Dan Anyim stadium Owerri.
The rally which was attended by many notable political heavy weights including the national chairman Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the minister of Labour and productivity Dr. Chris Ngige, his transport counterpart and director general of the party’s presidential council- Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, the minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu as well as the party’s governorship candidate, Senator Hope Uzodinma.
The event which was scheduled to commence at 10 am did not start till 5pm, when the president with his entourage stormed the sports arena in an intimidating convoy. A detachment of soldiers from the 34 Artillery Brigade, heavily armed mobile police men and men of the DSS manned strategic positions for fear of the unknown.
Hardly had the President, Muhammadu Buhari and his entourage entered the pavilion than thousands of party supporters, faithful and loyalists erupted in jubilation, hailing and cheering governor Rochas Okorocha for his result oriented rescue mission programmes and free education programmes.
With shouts of Owelle, the gyrating crowd, armed with placards bearing the picture of Governor Rochas Okorocha with sundry inscriptions which conveyed their unflinching support and loyalty to him, security men had a herculean task controlling the fanatical crowd.
Aside this, Okorocha supporters who joyfully moved round the imposing stadium defied the rain and sang solidarity songs for the governor.
Not a few people who graced the rally were convinced that the governor despite the antagonism from his political detractors is still in firm control of the party in the state.
This was moreso as the governorship candidate of the party Senator Hope Uzodinma was not acknowledged by the crowd at the rally.
Indeed, the massive presence of all who mattered within the rescue mission government of Okorocha spoke volumes of the political structure of the governor.
Already, the Ugwumba movement pushing for the actualisation of the Uche Nwosu governorship project in the state did not leave anybody in doubt that they are still with both president Buhari, Governor Okorocha and Uche Nwosu both in body and in spirit.
This is more so as their presence was heavy in all nooks and crannies of the 637 autonomous counties in the date. Emboldened by the show of support and solidarity, an elated governor Okorocha speaking on the occasion noted that the President had always demonstrated his love for the Igbos and would continue to show his love for the Igbos.
His words “my President you are a man of destiny. Your Victory come 2019 has been signed and sealed. You love the Igbos. And you have always demonstrated that. You took Chuba Okadigbo and Edum Umezeoke at different times to be your running mates. No good result came from all that. It will be wrong for anybody to say that you don’t love Ndi-Igbo. Whoever says that, is lying from the pit of hell”.
He Continued “Mr. President you were forced to look elsewhere. So it is not right that Buhari does not love Ndigbo. He shall Continue to show us love. You have shown your Capacity and Capability in fighting Corruption. There is nothing you can do to please the elite of Nigeria. Continue to work for the Ordinary Nigerians while protecting the interest of the few elites”.
The governor added “Let me remind you sir, I am Owelle Rochas Okorocha, I am the founder of APC in Imo State and I am the only governor in the whole of Southeast from APC. As it stands today, those that challenged us, those that came with the Army and Police and SS are now sitting boldly as the owners of the party. Let me say to you that, it is Iberiberism Chapter I vs I.”
In his remarks, President Muhammadu Buhari asked the APC members in Imo State not to allow intra-party conflict to influence their senses, but advised the party faithful to choose whoever they wish to vote for across party affiliations.
He stated, “I don’t think that there is anything new that can be said which has not been said”.
His words “I assure you that we will continue to secure the Countryand fight corruption. I want to plead with you not to allow intra-party conflict to influence your senses, your vote is your vote, choose whoever you like across party, ethnic and religious affiliations”.
Continuing, the President added “we made three promises to Nigerians which are Security, economy and fight against Corruption, depending on the part of the country you are, you can see that we have made some remarkable achievements in the areas promised”.
His words, “In the Northeast, we have achieved a lot in terms of Security that our farmers now go to farm and this has helped in upgrading our food security as a nation. Today, we have reduced the importation of rice by 90 percent . We have saved hundreds of millions of dollars from this”.
Also speaking, the national chairman of the Party, Adams Oshiomhole said the achievements of Mr. President are well documented and that Imo people should vote for the President who has done very well.
Meanwhile, traditional rulers in the state unanimously adopted President Buhari for a second term.
The monarchs who pronounced their adoption of the president when he paid them a courtesy visit as part of the programmes for his one day rally in the state, said that they made the adoption because of the wonderful achievements of the president.
The traditional rulers who were more than 600 in attendance and led by their Chairman, HRM Eze Agunwa Ohiri also reserved the Chieftaincy title of Omenkeahuruanya (I) of Imo State for the President, adding that the best that can happen to the nation is to vote for President Buhari for another term of four years. The chieftaincy title is expected to bring the President back to the State for conferment.
The President was received at the Ultra-modern Complex of Eze Imo Palace when he paid a courtesy call on the traditional rulers, during the Presidential rally in Owerri with the traditional rulers remarking that the fight against corruption must be encouraged to succeed.
The President in his speech at the visit said “Your Majesty, I stand here to thank you very much and these senior citizens of all the communities in Imo State. I thank you very much for waiting for us for so long. Like His Excellency Governor Okorocha has mentioned, last time I was here, I was looking for votes and I am here again to look for votes. I’d like to invite you to think of where we met the Country in 2015, where we are now and what we’ve been able to do throughout the period we’ve been in power with the little resources available to us.”
He stated “I’m sure within your communities that there has been one little reform or the other. So I want you to discuss with your people on the relevance of their votes for our party which will make a lot of difference. So my advice to you is to educate them.
Everybody has one vote and the President has one vote also. As far as voting is concerned, we are all equal. Show them how to vote and respect them and I assure you, they will in turn respect you.”
The President continued “I assure you that the point agenda of my administration which is security, economy and fighting corruption are still relevant. But we need substantial improvement in security. Boko Haram used to exist in 17 LGAs of Yobe, Borno and some other North-Eastern states but today, they are not holding any local government.”
His words “On the economy, we now thank God that the government has been able to make inputs in the agricultural sector that has yielded positive results and we’ve almost 100 percent self reliance in food production. On fighting corruption, that has been the most difficult, but we are encouraging the law enforcement agents to work very hard and the report we are getting is something.”
Receiving the President at the Eze Imo Palace, the Chairman of the State Council of traditional Rulers, HRM Eze Agunwa Ohiri intoned “Mr. President, on behalf of the Royal fathers of Imo State, I welcome you to this chamber. Your Excellency, your coming on stream at this time was apt because we needed a change, a new direction.
“You will realise that the greatest problem of our nation and of course Africa is corruption and we saw you as the person that will tackle that problem. Once corruption in our nation is tackled, every other thing will fall in place. We really commend you in this struggle Mr. President.”
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