By Chinonso Chinonso, Owerri
Scores of traditional rulers in Imo State recently signed up to ensure the realisation of the “Next level” slogan of President Muhammadu Buhari, aimed at his re-election in 2019 presidential poll.
South-East Voice was at the palace of Eze Imo, Samuel Ohiri along Mbari Street in Owerri where the monarchs endorsed Buhari who came to ask for their votes.
Ohiri told South-East Voice that the reason for the adoption of Buhari was because he had shown remarkable achievements in the fight against corruption in the country.
He added that in appreciation to the president’s effort in the fight against corruption, that the Imo State traditional rulers had agreed to bestow on Buhari the chieftaincy title of Omenkeahuruanya, meaning ‘You have done what we can see.’
Nevertheless, South-East Voice confirmed that this is the first time Buhari has visited the state after he won the 2015 presidential election.
Buhari was in Imo State to beg for their support in 2015. After that election, it was believed that Imo people gave Buhari the highest votes compared to other states in the South-East zone.
The royal fathers numbering over 600 from various autonomous communities in the state, were at the palace as early as 8:00am. They had to wait for Buhari until 3:30pm.
However, by the time the president arrived, many of the aged traditional rulers were fatigued. At a point, they needed to have their lunch.
It is possible that as older people, some of them were on medication but they remained steadfast in waiting for the number one citizen of the country. You could also notice the preparedness of the royal fathers to meet Buhari, four years after.
Immediately the President arrived, the mood changed. Security operatives took over strategic positions. Some of the diginitaries made a very quick walk into the venue.
South-East Voice noticed that some of them who were eating or drinking had to dispose of whatever they had in their hand and rushed into the palace at the arrival of President Buhari.
As is the culture and tradition of the Igbo, President Buhari, who was led into the venue by Governor Rochas Okorocha, was welcomed with kolanut.
The message delivered by Eze Imo, Ohiri, as obtained by South-East Voice, read: “We, the traditional rulers in Imo State have unanimously adopted President Muhammadu Buhari, the Presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress, APC, for second term because he has done well to deserve another term.”
Ohiri added among other things that, “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.
“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.”
In Buhari’s effort in wooing the traditional rulers to mobilise their subjects in voting for him ahead of February 2 presidential election, he told the royal fathers that they have a duty of convincing their people to accept and support the All Progressives Congress, APC.
He 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 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.
“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.
“I assure you that the 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.
“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 per cent 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.”