Though the campaign rally of the presidential campaign team of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to Kwara State has come and gone, memories of the visit continue to linger in the minds of stakeholders
By Demola Akinyemi
The crowd that witnessed the rally of the party’s presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari at the Metropolitan Square along Asa Dam Ilorin may not have been matched since the campaign season opened three months ago.
The supporters started trooping in by 9 a.m. and by 11 a.m. the entire space had been filled up.
Mobilization across the sixteen local governments in the state was massive as supporters dressed in different colourful attires filled every seat in the square.
The supporters of the different candidates for various elective offices were not left out as they paraded the square and outside with posters of their principals.
DJs treated the crowd to exciting renditions of the latest Nigerian hip hop songs until 1.05 p.m. when King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal KWAM 1 arrived to further electrify the already charged environment with his scintillating songs.
The crowd danced away the time seemingly waiving the reason that brought them together.
Some popular Nollywood stars such as Fathia Balogun, Femi Adebayo and his father, Adebayo Salami other wise known as “Oga Bello”, “Sanyeri” Tope Adebayo, Yinka Quadri among others were also around and on parade to grace the occasion. Many of them paraded the podium with the trademark symbol of the APC, brooms.
The brooms had been chartered in some big bags which were brought to the venue and distributed to supporters.
Business was a boon for food and drinks sellers who were neatly arranged in the venue.
Kwara First Lady, Mrs Omolewa Ahmed proved a good hostess as her staff in LEAH Foundation were seen distributing branded bottled water to party members.
Earlier, Buhari and his campaign team had been received at the Ilorin International Airport by what could best be described as an intimidating crowd. The Airport Road was blocked by supporters who were eager to catch a glimpse of General Muhammadu Buhari, his running mate and other top officials of the party. The crowd overflowed to the streets so that the vehicles could not move easily forcing Buhari and his entourage to disembark and make the final journey to the palace of the emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sule Gambari on foot.
In Buhari’s team were Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former APC National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State, the Director General of Buhari Campaign Organisation, Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, Senator Bukola Saraki, the APC leader in the state and the host governor Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed and other party chieftains.
From the emir’s palace, the team finally arrived the campaign venue at 1.55 pm.
Saraki, who openly expressed excitement at the turnout was the cynosure of all eyes, as Tinubu commended him for keeping the political flag of his late father, Dr Olusola Saraki flying.
Buhari in his speech to the crowd told them that the party would focus on those issues that would directly impact upon them such as agriculture.
“APC is aware of the high expectations of Nigerians and assure that its government has identified the fundamental problems of corruption, unemployment and insecurity. And with the naira being devalued almost by the day, this means entrepreneurs cannot grow, so we will ensure that the machineries are working, to employ people, to buy essential raw materials and produce goods and services.’’
“The cycle of corruption has done a great damage to the security and economy of this country. The APC is determined to break the vicious cycle of insecurity, unemployment and corruption.’’
Also, the National Leader of the party, Tinubu who got the attention of the crowd with his political razzmatazz in Yoruba dialect reminded Nigerians of the promise President Goodluck Jonathan made to provide jobs for unemployed youths. On the contrary, he said the Interior Minister, Abba Moro decided to exploit money from poor Nigerians and instead of jobs provided death and nothing was done about it.
Tinubu said the election is a golden opportunity for all Nigerians to change the destiny of this country once and for all by voting for General Buhari and his running mate Professor Yemi Osibajo and indeed all the party’s candidates in order to effect the much desired change.
The APC leader in Kwara State, Dr Bukola Saraki said that going by the unprecedented crowd of party supporters, Kwarans have spoken that they are going to vote for General Buhari and all the APC candidates.
“We are ready for new Nigeria, instead of them to address the real issues, they are attacking the personality of our candidate, the issues on ground is not about certificate or what happened in 1999.They cannot manage our economy properly, they have depleted our resources.”
“It is my joy to tell you that our candidate has the capacity and competence to fix these problems. We are ready for a new Nigeria. With what you have seen here today kwarans have spoken,” he stressed.
The Director General of the presidential campaign, Governor Amaechi on his part castigated the administration of President Jonathan for mismanaging Nigeria’s economy and looting the nation’s treasury stressing that February 14, 2015 is the last opportunity for Nigerians to change the destiny of Nigeria from bad to good and that they must not miss it.
“This is a golden opportunity for the Nigerian elites, we must not allow it to pass us by, it is either we allow this change or the change will force itself on us,” he said.
The Vice presidential candidate Professor Yemi Osibajo in his speech also said,
“Whenever change of destiny is about to happen, some won’t allow it, that was why they wanted to postpone the dates of election, our destiny won’t be postponed” he stressed.
Osibajo added that, ”The reason Nigeria is poor is that some people are stealing our money, there is too much corruption, too much stealing. We will stop corruption so that we can begin to march again if elected into office. Nigeria won’t be the same again”.
Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun state also castigated President Jonathan for taking the nation backward since he assumed office.