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Akala stops Buhari’s rally for Jonathan’s wife

* Bakare flays action

By OLA AJAYI & DAPO AKINREFON

Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala of Oyo State has ordered the stoppage of the rally by the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), scheduled for tomorrow at the ancient Mapo Hall, Ibadan.

The order was informed by the proposed visit of the first lady, Dame Patience Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday.
The action drew instant condemnation from the CPC vice presidential candidate, Pastor Tunde Bakare, who claimed it amounted to stiffling of the opposition by
the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Alao-Akala  was said to have given security reasons for his action, alleging that the CPC changed its plan without carrying him along and that the inability
of the party to use Mapo Hall should not be blamed on him but the party.

Mr. Adebayo Shittu, governorship candidate of the CPC in Oyo State,  said his party had  paid for the venue more than two weeks ago, but the state government
had allegedly given an instruction to the management of Mapo Hall that the party should not be allowed to use the venue.

He said,  “It is quite unfortunate what is happening in this country that the opposition is being muzzled by the government in power.  We all know that nobody
was elected into the position of the first lady, yet the instrument of the state is being used to deny somebody of the calibre of Gen. Buhari the opportunity to
tell the people of the South-West what he has in stock for them”.

He added that like a drowning person, the PDP was doing that because it knew it had already failed in Oyo State.

Alao-Akala, however, cleared the air on his action through Prince Dotun Oyelade, his Special Adviser on Public Communication, saying, “It is also untrue that Oyo
government has denied the Congress for Progressive Change presidential candidate the use of Mapo Hall”.

He explained that CPC wrote that it would pay a courtesy call on the governor, on Monday, March 7 and he replied that he was in the thick of his electioneering
campaign; so he couldn’t receive  him.

 “When CPC suddenly changed its campaign to next Monday (tomorrow), it should have the courtesy of notifying appropriate authority which, in any case, had
allocated Mapo to the First Lady, Mrs. Jonathan, who is on state visit Tuesday.

CPC should  blame itself for the embarrassing lapse, ” Alao-Akala stated.

Fielding questions from journalists in Lagos, yesterday, Bakare  berated  Oyo State government for frustrating the efforts of the CPC south west campaign
because of the wife of the president,  by taking possession of Mapo Hall, Ibadan.

He explained that the CPC was supposed to make  use of the hall on Tuesday for its rally, having paid for the hall, while the President’s wife is billed to
host PDP women at the venue on Wednesday.

The CPC vice presidential candidate said, “They cannot stop us from holding our rally at Mapo. I’m marching there, not in agbada, but in jeans to tell them that
they cannot prevent us from holding our campaign in  Mapo Hall.”

While reacting to the allegation by the PDP  that his party instigated  violence in some states, he absolved his party of being involved in any act of violence.

His words: “Is CPC responsible for the violence in Bayelsa? Was CPC responsible for the stampede in Port Harcourt where a lot of people died as a result of the
overzealousness of security agents? God helped them that they have not come face to face with the revenge and revolt of the poor. I am an eye witness to history.

From Abuja to Maiduguri, it’s one hour twenty minutes. The governor of Borno State withdrew all the buses that were meant to welcome us. The people trekked,
they ran, they came on Okada. From the airport, it took us four hours to get to the palace of the Shehu of Borno, these people you call violent did not cause
any disturbance at the palace, but they cannot stop anything called PDP. As far as we are concerned, we are preaching peace, but the people are exhibiting
against PDP.”

On the perceived deadlock between ACN  and CPC on  alliance talks ahead of the April polls, he said the talks are on going.


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