APC’s Carnival-like Campaign in Ogun

James Sowole writes about the recent carnival-like campaign of the All Progressives Congress Presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital

Like it happened in other states of the federation he had visited with his team on electioneering campaign, the campaign of the Presidential flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his running mate, Senator Kassim Shetima, was carnival-like, as the campaign train,  on  Wednesday, January 25, arrived Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.

Expectedly, activities stood still in all areas linked and connected with the MKO Abiola International Stadium, Kuto, Abeokuta, which hosted who is who in the ruling APC,  party’s candidates for 2023 Election, comprising the governorship candidate, Prince Dapo Abiodun, candidates for the three senatorial districts, nine House of Representatives and 26 members of House of Assembly.

As widely publicised by the State Government, in a statement signed by the Commissioner for Transport, Mr Gbenga Dairo, traffic diversion and rerouting were effected  inbound and outbound the stadium axis with alternative routes and parking space mapped out and effectively supervised by officers of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and Ogun State Traffic Management and Compliance and Enforcement (TRACE).

As planned, the NNPC flyover, was cordoned off and traffic diverted underpass towards the MKO Abiola International Stadium for traffic rerouting to Abiola-Way.

The decision on traffic was taken, to ensure hitch-free movement of human and vehicles for an event of such magnitude.

Coincidentally, public officers and civil servants, were still observing two-day public holiday, declared by the State Government, to enable workers in public service, to collect their Permanent Voter Card (PVC), which is an important instrument, that will make them participate in the forthcoming general election.

Though, the rally was scheduled to start by 10:00am, which made party supporters from the 20 local government areas of the state and some neighbouring states, in attire of different colours, stormed the MKO International Stadium, from as early as 8:00am, Tinubu and his runny mate, Shettima and others in their entourage, came into the stadium around 2:05pm into the waiting hands of different local drummers and praise singers, most of who came to the event to ply their trade.

Among the leaders of the party that attended the rally, were the former Governors of Ogun State, Aremo Olusegun Osoba,and Otunba Gbenga Daniel, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, Governors Babajide Sanwoolu of Lagos, AbdulRazaq AbdulRahman of Kwara, the Deputy Governor of Ondo State,  Mr Lucky Ayedatiwa and the former Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adam Oshiomole, among others.

As soon as the APC presidential candidate’s team arrived, with his host, Prince Dapo Abiodun, the leading band stand, of King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal, that had been performing to the delight of people at the stadium, upped his beat and excited crowd, responded appropriately and the whole stadium went agog.

In his remarks, the governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, assured the APC presidential candidate that the votes from the state would be 100 per cent for him adding that Tinubu remained the best deal for the country at this period.

The governor also called on the people to go and collect their PVCs.

The speech making aspect at the rally, was not elaborate but was explosive, as Tinubu’s address, deepened the existing controversies and suspicion on the scarcity of fuel in the country and the redesign of N200, N500 and N1000 notes by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

While there were no convincing explanation on the current fuel scarcity in the country, the CBN, had been engaging stakeholders  on reasons for the policy to redesign some naira notes and had been monitoring the circulation of the new notes and advising people on what to do in order to exchange their old currency notes, affected by the policy before the January 31, 2023, deadline.

The CBN specifically, explained that the policy, was not targeted at any individual or group of persons, irrespective of their economic and political standing.

However, the bubble burst, as Tinubu, declared that the two issues, were targeted at the APC and him as the presidential candidate, alleging that both events were contrived to sabotage his victory at next month’s election.

Tinubu said he would win, despite the disruptions.

Tinubu, who addressed the gathering in Yoruba told a mammoth crowd of APC members and supporters, that the fuel scarcity and naira redesign project were artificially created to discourage people from voting for APC. He said the target was to deny him victory at the February 25 presidential election.

In a vague reference to those he referred to as the powers that be, Tinubu wondered why the fuel scarcity, which began in October last year, had not abated.

The former Governor of Lagos state alleged that some powerful individuals in the country were behind the fuel crisis and scarcity of the new naira notes, saying they intend to scuttle the coming election.

However, the APC presidential candidate called on the citizens to remain resolute and resist any attempt to stop the elections. He described the forthcoming elections as “a revolution” that would usher in new government.

He said, “We will use our PVCs to take over government from them. If they like let them create fuel crisis, even if they say there is no fuel, we will trek to vote. They are full of mischief; they could say there is no fuel. They have been scheming to create fuel crisis, but forget about it. Relax, I Asiwaju, have told you that the issue of fuel supply will be permanently addressed.

“Whoever wants to eat the honey embedded in a mountain won’t worry about the axe. Is that not so? And if you want to eat palm kernel, you would bring stone and use it to break it, then the kernel will come out.

“Let them increase the price of fuel, let them continue to hoard fuel, only them know where they have hoarded fuel, they hoarded money, they hoarded naira; we will go and vote and we will win. Even if they changed the ink on naira notes. Whatever their plans, it will come to naught. We are going to win. Those in the PDP will fall.

“I am homeboy, I have come here, you will not be put to shame, we will take over the government from them, the traitors who wanted to contest with us. They had no experience.

“The great Nigerian youth, the great Nigerian students, the confident Nigerian youth. This is a revolution. This election is a revolution. They are plotting, but they will fail. They said fuel price will increase and reach N200 per litre. Go and relax.

“They don’t want you to vote, they want to scuttle it. Do you agree?

“On this one, I’m guaranteeing you one thing: there will be student loan. Nobody will drop out of the university because of school fees. I guarantee you that. Nobody will have to repeat for eight years and not graduate.

“We are too smart, we are brilliant, we are courageous, we are sharp, we will make a four years course be for four years. Do you agree?

“Will you vote whether there is fuel or not? Call your sister, we are bringing revolution.

Let me say what’s on my mind. The other day, I told you. This one too, they think they can cause crisis by sabotaging fuel supply. They are sabotaging fuel supply. Whether there is fuel or not, whether there is Okada (motorcycle) or not, whether there is tricycle or not, we will go and vote and we shall win”

This allegation, elicited swift reaction, from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which alleged that the APC candidate was frustrated by his inability to stop the cashless policy and currency redesign of the CBN.

Atiku said the monetary policies would curb vote buying and enhance the credibility of next month’s election, claiming Tinubu has started crying over his imminent defeat due to frustration of his strongest strategies.

Also reacting to Tinubu’s comments, Atiku, in a statement by his Special Assistant, Public Communication, Phrank Shaun, stated that Tinubu was obviously frustrated by his inability to stop the cashless policy and CBN currency redesign project.

Quoting from the Holy Bible, in Proverbs 28:1, which says, “The wicked run when no one is chasing them, but an honest person is as brave as a lion,” (Good News Translation), to buttress his point, Shaibu stated, “Even though the CBN policy affects all 18 political parties, Tinubu is the only one frustrated because his plan to deploy bullion vans and bribe poor voters and security agents on the day of election has failed woefully.

“Recall that on the eve of the 2019 presidential election, two cash laden bullion vans were pictured entering Tinubu’s premises located on 26 Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi. Several petitions were written to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) but nothing was done.

“Also frustrated by President Muhammadu Buhari’s unwillingness to attend some of his insipid rallies, Tinubu launched an attack against the president, who doubles as the Minister of Petroleum.”

Responding to Tinubu’s accusation that the fuel scarcity was artificially created to sabotage his victory at the poll, Shaibu said, “It is funny that Tinubu is just commenting over the fuel scarcity, which started in different parts of the country as far back as February 2022. In Lagos, where Tinubu claims to be the landlord, the state has been witnessing fuel queues since last November.

“It is, therefore, dubious of Tinubu to try to extricate himself from the failures of his party because elections are 30 days away.

“Like his previous colourless rallies, the APC candidate vowed that his supporters would use their PVCs to ‘chase them out of power next month’.

“Tinubu urgently needs to be on medication since he has forgotten that his party is currently in office. How can the APC defeat the APC?

“Besides, the so-called Lagos godfather, who says he will remove petrol subsidy on his first day in office, if he wins, told the people of Ogun State that he will push the price of petrol below N200 per litre. It is obvious that he has not even read his own manifesto.

“Tinubu has gone from attacking the leader of his own party to Igbos and northerners all because he believes they are not supporting his failed presidential ambition.

“For a man who claimed to have single-handedly made Buhari president, it is funny that he is now running from pillar to post all in a bid to save what is left of his failed campaign.

“Having seen his imminent defeat at the polls, he is already using the fuel scarcity and naira redesign as excuses. Tinubu should throw in the towel or get ready to be disgraced on February 25, 2023. A word is enough for the wise.”

The spokesperson of Atiku/Okowa Campaign Organisation, Kola Ologbondiyan, also berated Tinubu for trying to blackmail Buhari and blame the “APC-led federal government over his looming devastating rejection by Nigerians.”

A statement signed by Ologbondiyan said, “Our campaign finds it pathetic that Asiwaju Tinubu is seeking a face-saving measure ahead of his shattering electoral defeat by shedding crocodile tears and claiming that the redesigning of the naira notes and the fuel crisis under the APC administration, were plots to scuttle the 2023 general election.

“It is unfortunate that Asiwaju Tinubu is trying to hoodwink Nigerians by seeking to exonerate himself and blame others in the Buhari led-APC administration from the biting fuel scarcity in the country, when in reality he (Asiwaju Tinubu) is known to be behind the insensitive and anti-people policies that have brought so much calamity to our country, including the current persistent fuel scarcity.

“It, indeed, speaks volumes of Asiwaju Tinubu’s character as he is pretending to care for the pains Nigerians are passing through just because it was beginning to affect his political life ambition”.

Some other people, who commented on t) Tinubu’s outburst, wondered why there were always controversies, whenever the APC candidate, visit Ogun State.

They recalled the pre-APC Presidential Primary visit of Tinubu to Ogun State delegates, during which the popular “Eleyi” apellation, was derogatively, conferred on Dapo Abiodun and when other words and statement as “Olule, Emi Lokan, Egbe kinni yi wa” came out.

However, the people expressed delight that the campaign, did not end in violence, unlike what happened, in 2019, during the handover of the APC flag to Abiodun, as the party’s standard bearers for the Governorship Election, inside the same MKO International Stadium.

As this group of people were condemning Tinubu for his open outbursts against  the APC’s led government policies, some commended him, for hitting the nail on the head about the suffering of the masses via the two issues, raised by Tinubu.

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