…APM supporters pelt Oshiomhole; I’ve apologised to President, VP — Osoba
By Dapo Akinrefon, Daud Olatunji & Dirisu Yakubu
ABEOKUTA–THE All Progressives Congress, APC, presidential campaign rally in Abeokuta, Ogun State descended into chaos, yesterday, after simmering issues from the party’s governorship primaries boiled over at the rally ground.
President Muhammadu Buhari was surrounded by protective bodyguards as angry party members reportedly aligned to Governor Ibikunle Amosun pelted the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as he introduced the party’s governorship candidate, Prince Dapo Abiodun.
The confusion at the rally was compounded after President Buhari deviated from the tradition of supporting APC candidates across board as he told supporters to vote for the governorship candidate of their choice.
The rancour at the rally ground was further exacerbated when the immediate past governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola flayed Governor Amosun as a hypocrite for reportedly turning his back on his party’s candidate.
Meanwhile, a former governor of the state, Aremo Segun Osoba, who was present at the occasion, yesterday, lamented the developments as he said he had made apologies to the president and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo over the issue.
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, however, said that the developments in Abeokuta showed that the people of Ogun State had aligned themselves with the rest of the country in rejecting President Buhari’s second term aspiration.
The stage for yesterday’s commotion had been set by the defection of Amosun’s preferred successor, Adekunle Akinlade to the Allied Peoples Movement, APM following the decision of the Oshiomhole led National Working Committee, NWC to hand over the governorship ticket to Prince Abiodun.
APM supporters pelt Oshiomhole
However, in front of the president, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo who is from the state, national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former governor of the state, Aremo Segun Osoba among others, several APM supporters who had come to show support for Buhari, however, cringed and sometimes responded by pelting Oshiomhole and Abiodun with stones when opportunity presented itself.
Amosun in his speech had appealed to his aggrieved loyalists not to transfer their anger to the party in the presidential election as he said that the issues would be resolved at the governorship election.
“We are respecting President Muhammadu Buhari, don’t transfer your anger to APC. I have told you that you will all be one by March 3rd and you will come back to APC.
“You know what to do when it is March 2nd, but please honour me on February 16 and vote for our father, President Muhammadu Buhari.”
His assertion was immediately rebuffed by the immediate past governor of Osun State, Aregbesola who described Governor Amosun as a hypocrite over his support for the candidate of another party.
You’re a hypocrite, Aregbesola hits Amosun
Aregbesola who spoke immediately after Amosun said the party could not be happy with hypocrites in the party. He then urged those present to ignore Amosun and vote for APC in the presidential, governorship and all other positions.
“We are not happy with hypocrites among us. We are APC, but many people are hypocrites here. We must ensure we vote for APC in March and February”.
Following that as Oshiomhole moved to introduce Abiodun as the party’s governorship candidate the crowd burst out with shouts of “Ole! Ole! Ole!” and also pelted the party’s national chairman with stones. Oshiomhole was forced by the development to abort his speech abruptly.
Security aides form ring around President
The chaos caused the president’s bodyguards to immediately take position and form a ring around the president.
Upon the development and as the Master of Ceremony, Abike Dabiri announced Vice President Osinbajo to come and make his speech, Amosun stepped forward to appeal to the party supporters.
Speaking passionately in Yoruba he appealed to the crowd not to humiliate him in the presence of Buhari who he repeatedly addressed as “our father.”
“I beg you in the name of God, this is what they want to happen… Please don’t disgrace me here.”
“Our father is here, please don’t disgrace me. I beg you in the name of God; please don’t disgrace me before our father… We have laboured this hard. I am appealing to you. Please, leave. I beg you in the name of God; please leave. I beg you. I am begging,” he added.
Vote for me on Saturday, vote for candidates of your choice on March 2, Buhari tells Ogun people.
President Buhari, on his part, urged the people of the state to vote for him in the presidential election and also vote for candidates of their choice in the coming governorship election in Ogun State.
Buhari maintained that it is the right of the people to vote for candidates of their choice, adding that he has no problem with whatever decision they took in the governorship election.
The president stressed that his administration is committed to developing the infrastructure, railway and power sector before the end of his second term.
His words, “I am here specifically to thank you for coming out in your numbers despite the weather to see and listen to us,
“I will like to remind you in 2015 our party; the All Progressives Congress made different promises and undertook security, economy and fighting corruption.
“Wherever I go, I try to update Nigerians on our performances for the past three and a half years. The people of Northeast Nigeria were mostly affected by insecurity.
“When we talk about infrastructure, we are building roads, rails, and power; you will be the witnesses by the time we complete the next four years.
“I advise you to practice your civic right come next Saturday, and on the 2nd of March to choose whoever you like across the parties.
“This is your right, so there is no problem about it, I have no problem about it, and you shouldn’t have problems about it.”
There was tension around the rally ground as aggrieved supporters of the APM reportedly chased out the supporters to the APC governorship candidate, who were putting on yellow and other materials with logos and inscriptions of Abiodun from the venue.
Reacting yesterday, former governor of Ogun State, Chief Osoba said the people of the state were humiliated by the chaos and that besides making personal apologies on behalf of the people to the president and the vice-president that delegations would be sent to others who were humiliated.
“I met with the President and Vice President after the incident and apologized to them after the rally. I feel disgraced and the humiliation is the humiliation of all of us in Ogun State. I feel totally humiliated and disgraced. I find it most unfortunate.
“The APC in Ogun is sending a high powered delegation to apologise to the National Chairman of the APC and South West leaders like Tinubu, Akande and others, who were also humiliated. We are sending a powerful delegation to apologise to them.”
It’s sign of Buhari’s failure — PDP
Meanwhile, the PDP, last night described the developments in Abeokuta as a direct response from Nigerians to what it described as the poor stewardship of the president in the past three and a half years.
In a statement signed by the party’s spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP said the development showed that like other states in the country, Ogun is ready to reject the APC-led administration at the polls.
“The people of Ogun State, and indeed, the South West, have shown that they are in direct alignment with other states and geo-political zones of our country in rejecting President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, whose administration has foisted so much injustice and brought unprecedented pain and anguish to Nigerians.
“Mr. President can now see that Nigerians cannot be bought with N10,000, as he was made to believe by Prof. Osinbajo and members of the cabal in his Presidency.
“After the unpalatable encounters in all his rallies, Mr. President needs no further signal to show him that the people have completely rejected him, despite his false performance indices. Nigerians are determined to deal him a crushing defeat on February 16 by voting en masse for the people’s candidate, Atiku Abubakar, as the next President of our country,” the statement read in part.
The party further called on the President and the ruling party to brace up for defeat at the polls in a few days.