*Security operatives shield president as APM members protest presentation of flag to Abiodun by Oshiomhole
By Ogbonnikan in Abeokuta
Amidst the tension at the Buhari/Osinbajo presidential campaign rally held in Abeokuta, on Monday, President Muhammadu Buhari jolted All Progressives Congress (APC) party stalwarts and supporters as he declared that the people were free to choose whoever they like as governor in the March 2 election.
The state chapter of the party has been embroiled in crisis since the governorship primaries held last year. While Prince Dapo Abiodun who emerged from the faction loyal to former Governor Segun Osoba was recognised by the national headquarters of the party as the governorship candidate, the state Hon. Adekunle Akinlade, who emerged from the primaries by faction loyal to Governor Ibikunle Amosun.
The Independent National Electoral Commission however recognised Abiodun as the candidate of the APC in the upcoming governorship election. Adekunle Akinlade, and other loyalyists of the governor consequently defected to the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), where he emerged as the governorship candidate.
There was however commotion shortly after the national chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, presented the party’s flag to Abiodun, as one of the placard carrying members of APM hurled an empty plastic bottle of water at the direction of President Muhammadu Buhari and other chieftains of the APC on the platform.
Security operatives immediately formed a ring around the president and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Addressing the rally, Buhari said: “On Saturday, February 16, you are to vote for Presidential candidate of the APC. But I want to urge you to choose whoever you like across the parties as governor of Ogun State.
“There is no problem about it. I have no problem about it. The rest people of Ogun State will decide.”
Earlier while addressing the rally, Governor Amosun had urged supporters of the APM not to do anything that will embarrass the people of the state before President Buhari.
“We have told them that they (APC governorship candidate), that they are not up to 5 percent.
Let us swallow our pride.
“Why disgracing me here? Please, don’t disgrace us here”, said Amosun.
Prior to the time, the atmosphere was already charged following the thorough screening conducted by security operatives at the entrance to prevent hoodlums from gaining access. Amosun, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the way security operatives from Abuja were screening and preventing APM members from gaining access to the main bowl of MKO Abiola International Stadium, Abeokuta, venue of the event.
The security operatives from Abuja led by a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) thoroughly screened all those entering the main bowl. In the process, no fewer than five men were arrested and axes, cutlasses and assorted charms were recovered from them at the point of entry.
At a point, the governor mounted the podium and addressed the security operatives before the arrival of the President and his entourage.
“Don’t create confusions in Ogun State. I am talking to you the security operatives, especially the DSS and Police operatives from Abuja. Please, stop using teargas on our people. Please, don’t do it again. President Muhammadu Buhari is safe here in Ogun State. He is our father.
“To all of you here, we are going to open the gates to allow our people to come in.
We don’t want stampede. So, security operatives, I am putting you on notice. Please, help us to help you. I am begging you to stop it. Our people are suffering outside there”, said Amosun.
Without wasting time, the governor personally took charge and herded the APM supporters into the main bowl.
After they were allowed into the venue, the APM supporters, in their scores, chased out all supporters Abiodun who were already seated, with sticks and took over the arena.
Amosun in his opening remarks failed to recognise the presence of the APC governorship candidate, Prince Abiodun; national chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole; former Osun State governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola; and former Ogun State governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba.
He however recognised other national leaders of the party like Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, Chief Bisi Akande and state governors, among other chieftains.
When it was the turn of former Osun State governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, to speak, he cautioned the APC faithful and supporters on the need to be wary of hypocrites.
“We are here for peace. Those carrying posters and banners of another party other than the APC are hypocrites.
“On Saturday, March 2, which is a date for both the governorship and State House of Assembly, let us vote for the broom which is the symbol of the APC”, declared Aregbesola.
Also, the Director-General (DG), Buhari/Osinbajo Presidential Campaign Organisation, Chief Rotimi Amaechi, urged the people to cast their votes for all candidates of the APC in the forthcoming general election.
According to him, “We are all here completely for the APC elections. The event of today is completely for all our candidates from the presidential, governorship, National Assembly and to the State House of Assembly.
“It is important to vote for the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari and the state governor. Let us not make any mistake otherwise we (APC) will lose it.”