As Confusion Trails APC Presidential Campaign in Kwara…

Hammed Shittu reports that confusion almost marred the presidential train of the All Progressives Congress which birthed in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital recently to canvass for votes for its standard flag bearer, Bola Ahmed Tinubu

The ancient town of Ilorin, Kwara state capital last Tuesday went agog as members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and other supporters of the party and that of the  former governor of Lagos state, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, came out enmasse to receive the presidential train of the party which was in town to sell the candidature of Tinubu and the vice presidential candidate, Senator Kashim Shettima, to the state’s eligible voters ahead of the February 25 presidential poll.

From all the major streets of Ilorin, party supporters were dressed in different attires and vests with  inscriptions such as “Tinubu for President”,  “Tinubu, 2023 Renewed Hope”, “Tinubu/Shettima  Is the Right  Choice”.

Although, confusion nearly marred the presidential campaign rally  of the party as different press statements were issued insinuating that the presidential campaign will not hold as planned again.

The much publicised press statement was based on the cancellation of the coming of the National Leader of the party and President Muhammadu Buhari to attend the rally  following his  travelling to Mauritania for important international recognition by the government of the Islamic nation.

Also, prior to this development, the opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state had alerted President Buhari on the alleged move by the APC-led state government to use the campaign rally to inaugurate uncompleted projects of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq and urged him not to be used by the state government.

At a news conference held in Ilorin, the Director General of the state PDP Campaign Council, Prof Ali Ahmad, said the alert became imperative so as to safe the effect the inauguration of the uncompleted projects will have on the people of the state.

Ahmad listed the uncompleted projects earmarked for inauguration by President Buhari to include Yebumot Hotel road, Tailors Shop aka “Garment Factory”, Innovation Hub, ICT Centre, International Conference Center and Brigadier General Tunde Idiagbon Flyover.

But, the ruling APC Campaign Council in its reaction said “President Buhari is coming on Tuesday to just flag off the presidential campaign in Kwara State, while a different date will be announced for grand inauguration of different impactful projects such as the largest Intensive Care Unit facility in North Central which is the first functional ICU facility in the state”.

A statement issued and signed by the Publicity Secretary of the campaign council, Mrs. Florence Oyeyemi however said, “PDP will definitely cry out its heart next month when  President Muhammadu Buhari is billed to be in the state to inaugurate some legacy projects executed by Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq”.

Following the altercations between the PDP and APC in the state over this development, the news of  President Buhari not coming again hit the state and that he will be travelling to Mauritania to receive an award on that Tuesday slated for the campaign rally in Ilorin.

This however prompted the local organising committee of the APC rally in the state to issue another statement that the rally has been postponed and a new date will be made public to members of the party.

The Secretary of the committee, Alhaji Saadu Salaudeen, said there was no cause for alarm on the holding of the rally.

But, this statement was countered by the Secretary of APC presidential campaign council, Hon. James Faleke as he reaffirmed the holding of the rally as planned.

This also set a serious confusion in the APC and government in the state on the holding of the party rally but they later succumbed to the “order” and set ball rolling to receive the APC Campaign train led by its presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, vice presidential candidate, Senator Kashim Shettima, national chairman of APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, Director General of the campaign council, Mr. Simeon Lalong and other chieftains of the party across the country.

However, as early as 9.a.m party supporters from the 16 local government councils of the state have thronged to the venue of the rally located at Metropolitan Square, Ilorin.

The party supporters who were dressed in different attires sang campaign slogans of the presidential candidate, the state govenror, Alhaji AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq who is also seeking re-election, senatorial  and House of Representatives candidates, among others.

By noon of that day, the venue of the rally was full to capacity as the parry supporters were waiting for the presidential train from Abuja to address them on what Kwarans will be benefiting from Tinubu’s presidency if he eventually emerges as the next president of the country during the February 25 poll.

The party supporters were also along the Ilorin International Airport road to give their visitors a rousing welcome.

The visitors who later arrived at the airport were moved in a motorcade to the venue of the rally where they addressed the party supporters.

Addressing the party stalwarts at Metropolitan Square, Ilorin, the presidential candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Tinubu asked  the people of Kwara  state to demonstrate their continued commitment to freedom achieved during the  2019  general elections by using their permanent voters cards to vote him as next  president and all other  candidates of the party in the elections.

According to him: “Your freedom four years ago,  was thunderbolts all over the country and you deserve a great congratulations”.

He asked, “Are you going to cement that freedom? Do you know what to do? use your permanent voters cards to fingerprint the APC and let it continue all through the polls”.

Tinubu who was flanked by his his running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima; the national chairman of APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu; Director General, APC  presidential campaign council, Mr. Simeon Lalong; Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; the state governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, however said “You have PVC and you know what you are supposed to do. Use your fingerprints to vote APC into power in all the elections.

“Let’s make it a broom revolution. Broom!!! You have no other symbol than the symbol of freedom, cleaninless, sweeping fraud, money laundering, corruption, away, sweeping insecurity away”.

Tinubu added, “Today, we are just celebrating freedom. We’re assessing and reasserting our freedom in a democracy.

“There was rumour yesterday that this would not happen, but it’s happening in your lifetime. We thank you for believing in your governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq.

“He’s very honest, genuine hardworking man. On February 25, you should vote APC and vote for prosperity. Vote for me and vote for APC and all its candidates in the Presidential, National Assembly, governorship and state Houses of Assembly”.

Also speaking at the rally, Director General of APC presidential campaign council, Simon Lalong justified the claim that it is turn of Bola Tinubu to be the next president of the country.

The former two-term governor of Lagis state had, while seeking the ticket to be the presidential candidate of his party, claimed that it is his turn to be the president hinging that claim mainly on what he described as his contribution to emergence of Muhammadu Buhari as the president on the platform of the party.

Lalong said it was time for Tinubu to reap the gains of assistance he had rendered to other top politicians in the recent past

The APC chief campaigner whike making a veiled reference to Tinubu’s contribution to emergence as president of Buhari who is from the north, said when one has done good to another person it is also desirable that he is rewarded with another good.

He stated: ‘If you do me good, I will do you good and If you do good on the other side, we will do good on this side. Asiwaju (Tinubu) has done good. It is his turn; it is our turn.”

In his comment, the national chairman of the party, Senator Andullahi Adamu canvassed votes for Tinubu saying his presidency will make Nigeria better.

He also called on the party supporters to ensure that the large turn out at the rally should be the true reflection of what will be outcome of the forthcoming general elections in the state.

Adamu called on them to come out again and ensure that they cast their vote for all the party canddiates in the elections.

Also speaking at the rally, Governor AbdulRazaq commended the people of the state for coming out in droves to welcome Tinubu and his entourage.

He said, “This huge crowd is a testament to our standing with the people of Kwara State. It shows that we have won this election.

“Our presidential candidate has seen what we have done in this state. Kwara is APC. Kwara indeed is one of the strongholds of the APC.

“Our members are happy. The state is happy. They have seen what we have done. We met a failed state in several sectors, and we have been able to tackle it from education, healthcare, and other sectors. All the indices have gone up in the right sense”.

AbdulRazaq added, “You need to continue to support this party at all levels. President Muhammadu Buhari has done well. We need to build on his success.

“No person could have done what he has done, despite the economic downturn, Covid-19 pandemic, and global economic crisis. We must sustain this growth consistently. That will be continued by our incoming team led by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

“Party faithfuls, I urge you to support and vote for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. The progress we have in this state will be continued with Asiwaju  Tinubu. We thank him for the support he gave us in 2019. He gave us full support in throwing out the termites in this state”.

He thereafter thanked Mr. President, “who is away in Mauritania. He couldn’t be here but he will come back here. We appreciate his efforts and the support he has been giving this government for the progress of the state”.

The campaign train later paid a special homage to the Emir of Ilorin, Dr. Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, who prayed for the success of the candidate in the coming poll.

He acknowledged the sterling qualities of Tinubu and Governor AbdulRazaq, who he described as great and humble achievers.

Meanwhile, the PDP Campaign Council in the state has described the rally as assemblage of rented crowd from all parts of the country.

A statement issued by the Publicity Secretary of the PDP Campaign Council in the state, Mr. Kayode Ogunlowo, also said “the absence of President Muhammadu Buhari at the APC rally in the state has justified the timely statement made by the Director-General for the PDP Governorship Campaign Council in the state, Prof Ali Ahmad, warning the President against coming to the state to inaugurate uncompleted projects initiated by Gov AbdulRazaq-led Kwara govt but rather he should only come for campaign”.

According to the statement, “We thank Mr President for heeding the calls of our DG and Professor of Law, Prof. Ali Ahmad, whose timely statement to the President to avoid inauguration of uncompleted projects initiated by Governor AbdulRazaq-led Kwara government resonated with the popular demand of construction experts of the dangers the projects could pose to the public. 

“We are delighted that the message to the President was well delivered. We were abreast of the pressure Governor AbdulRazaq has mounted on contractors just to make sure that some of these substandard uncompleted projects were completed for inauguration ahead of their assembly of rented crowds at the APC campaign rally held  in Ilorin.

“The failure of the APC-led government in Kwara is glaring to the public. They could not hide their shame any longer. The people are merely waiting to humiliate them by voting for all the PDP Candidates at the polls come 2023”.

By and large, the presidential campaign rally of APC in Kwara state has come and gone despite the confusion that earlier greeted the rally.

Analysts are, however, concerned about the absence of President Buhari at the Ilorin campaign. They viewed the absence as a serious issue wondering if the President boycotted the rally due to posers raised by the opposition PDP in the state? Also, the mass defection to other parties by some APC leaders in the state that worked for the 2019 electoral victory still raised another poser for the electoral victory of the APC in the state. Will it be a repeat of what transpired during the 2019 polls? Time will definitely tell.

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