Okon Bassey in Uyo
Unprecedented crowd was experienced Saturday at the Uyo Township stadium as the All Progressives Congress (APC) top wigs, leaders and stakeholders across the country converged for the flag-off of the partyâ€™s local government campaigns ahead of the December 2 council polls.
Besides the flag-off the campaign, the party hierarchy officially received into the party, National Assembly members and thousands of people who defected from other political parties into the APC.
Political chieftains that pulled their weight in the campaign were the National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, Chairman of APC Governors Forum and Governor of Imo state, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, deputy national chairman (Southwest), Mr. Segun Oni, Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters(Senate), Senator Ita Enang.
Others included the Managing Director/CEO Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. Nsima Ekere, the Managing Director/CEO of Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone Authority (OGFTZA), Obong Umana Okon Umana, Senator Representing Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District, Senator Nelson Effiong, Chief Don Etiebet and the deputy national chairman (South-South), Mr. Hilliard Ettah, among others.
Leaders of the party, who said they were not overwhelmed by the mammoth crowd of supporters, stressed that the thousands of people seen at the flag-off of the campaign was an indication that APC was set and prepared for the local government polls.
They noted that for the first time, the opposition party in the state has been able to fill all the 329 councillorship posts and the 31 local government councils in the state, which is a clear indicator of victory for the party.
With this development they said, come 2019 Akwa Ibom state government House will be occupied by an APC governor, and maintained that local government election was the test case.
The party top wigs said they were aware of plans by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to rig the council elections, cautioning that APC would resist any attempt by the Akwa Ibom State Independent Electoral Commission (AKISIEC) to divert from projecting free and fair election in the state.
National Chairman of the APC, Chief Oyegun posited that the impressive turn-out for the programme could be said to be a manifestation of the readiness of the people in the state to unseat the PDP administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel comes 2019.
He called on all those who defected to APC to relax as the party will extent full privileges and benefit saying those that left the PDP before now to APC from the state had the foresight of better Nigeria and better future for the country.
He said council polls would serve as a test case for the APC performance in the state maintaining that the large turn-out of teeming supporters at the event was a testimony to the fact that Akwa Ibom people are in support of the President Muhammadu Buhariâ€™s administration.
Oyegun lauded the President for his efforts geared towards building a new Nigeria, salvaging the economy from recession, fighting corruption head-long and providing job and empowerment opportunities for the teeming youths of the country.
Looking into improved health and development recorded under APC regime at the centre, he said the party has no other choice than supporting President Muhammadu Buhari to continue in office beyond 2019.
The National Chairman of the party equally observed that even other opposition party has no qualified person for the 2019 presidential election urged the people of Akwa Ibom to key into the administration of President Buhari and by extension the APC government.
The Chairman APC Governors Forum and the governor of Imo state, Owelle Okorocha was full of praise for the Akwa Ibom state APC for its resolve to make the state an APC stronghold as it never happened in an opposition state before.
He called on the people of Akwa Ibom State not to count themselves out of the wind of change that is blowing across parties lines in the country, saying presently, President Buhari has become a new bride as even the opposition parties are supporting him directly or indirectly.
His words: â€œCome to the national level that is the truth and fact, once you are there, you will get all the goodies from the Federal government. Buhari is a God sent to Nigeria, despite his initial health challenges, he is now looking stronger and strongerâ€.
Senior Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang and the MD/CEO of the NDDC, Mr. Nsima Ekere said they were worried of the plans by ruling party to rig the elections.
Ekere, who said the era of rigging election in the state was over, said APC will do everything to monitor the election and the announcement of the results.