Between 2019 and 2023: Reflections on APC’s Abeokuta rallies
On Wednesday, January 25, the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential campaign train stopped at Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital. The ancient city was in a celebration mood as the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, was greeted by a mammoth crowd of APC members and supporters at the party’s presidential campaign rally held at the MKO Abiola International Stadium, Abeokuta.
The mega rally was attended by APC leaders at the state and national levels, including Asiwaju’s running mate, Kashim Shettima, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos); AbdulRahaman AbdulRazaq (Kwara) and Biodun Ojebanji (Ekiti).
Also in attendance were former Governors of Edo, Adams Oshiomhole; Osun, Adegboyega Oyetola; Ekiti, Dr Kayode Fayemi; Ogun, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, and Aremo Segun Osoba. The National Secretary of the party, Iyiola Omisore, also graced the occasion.
Of course, on hand to welcome party stalwarts, APC members and its teeming supporters was His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun.
When it was time for the host governor to speak, the gathering erupted into cheers and chants in acknowledgment of the giant strides the Abiodun administration has taken since May 29, 2019, when he was sworn in as to lead the state.
In his remarks, Prince Abiodun assured the APC presidential candidate that the votes from the state would be 100 per cent for him, saying the APC presidential candidate remained the best deal for the country in 2023.
“Asiwaju has been senator, he knows the law; he was Lagos State Governor for eight years. He transformed Lagos to be like a country. He was successful in all these responsibilities. I want to urge you to go and get your PVCs because that is the only way you can vote in Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Dapo Abiodun and other candidates in the party,” the governor said.
Addressing the massive crowd, Asiwaju reiterated Prince Abiodun’s call on the good people of Ogun to make it a civic duty to collect their Permanent Voter’s Cards to enable them to vote for the APC andguarantee the party’s success in the upcoming general elections.
With fanfare, assurance and satisfaction, the APC campaign train steamed off to the next campaign ground in an atmosphere of peace and togetherness.
Tinubu was at his best, dancing to the sonorous music of Fuji maestro, Wasiu Ayinde Marshall, popping hands with the high and the lowly as he also came with loads of vituperations. For Tinubu, the biting fuel scarcity and inadequate new notes in circulation were attempts by saboteurs to ensure he would not win the 25 February presidential election.
“Saboteurs want to scuttle the election; they are hoarding the new naira notes and creating artificial fuel scarcity. Don’t be bothered, we shall be victorious. No matter how they try to scuttle the election, the saboteurs will fail. Even if they keep away the new notes and hoard the fuel, we shall vote and be victorious. We are going to use our PVC to claim our mandate, even if they say that there is no fuel, we will walk to vote, let your mind be at rest, we will vote and I will win ”, he said.
It was not only jibes for perceived enemies of progress, the former governor followed it up with some noteworthy promises. According to him once elected into office, incessant strikes by organized Labour will cease and peace will return to our campuses as students and lecturers in tertiary institution will heave a sigh of relief. He also promised to emplace a student loan policy, which will ensure that nobody will drop out of school because of school fees.
“Nobody will have to repeat one class for eight years and not graduate, we are too smart, we are brilliant, we are courageous, we will make a four year course will be a four year course,” he said.While calling on the people of the state to go all out and claim their Permanent Voter’s Cards still left at various offices of the INEC, the Asiwaju of Lagos said that they would be able to ensure his victory if they make it their duty to claim their permanent voter’s card.
Raising the Governor DapoAbiodun’s hand to the admiration of the crowd, Tinubu said: “there’s no need giving him flag, he is going for reelection and he is winning. DapoAbiodun’s victory is guaranteed”, even as the Governor also assured that the presidential candidate of his party that the votes from Ogun state would be a100%. “Tinubu is the best deal for the country at this period”, he enthused.
As jubilant citizens enjoyed the revelry, thoughts about the 2019 Presidential campaign ran though people’s mind and many wondered, including perhaps both President MuhammaduBuhari and Inspector General of Police, UsmanAlikali Babaon how the State has become “the most peaceful and secured state in the country.”
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Rewind to February 11, 2019, when President Muhammadu Buhari was seeking re-election. The president’s campaign train had stopped at Abeokuta and just as the then APC flagbearer for the governorship election – Prince Dapo Abiodun – was being characteristically handed the party’s flag, hundreds of hoodlums belonging to the disgraced Allied Peoples Movement (APM) infiltrated the venue and started throwing stones and other dangerous objects onto the podium. One of the objects flew in the direction where President Buhari was sitting and he was only saved by one of his security operatives who took the hit for him.
To understand the bedlam that occurred that day, APM was the party Senator Ibikunle Amosun’s disgraced allies who lost out in the APC primaries ran to and were being backed by the former governor who, ironically, was a senatorial candidate of the APC he deceitfully led his blind flock away from.
The hatched scheme to disrupt the February 11, 2019 peaceful gathering became obvious when APM hoodlums breached the venue’s parameters and started interrupting the then APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole’s speech, curiously soon after Amosun addressed party supporters. Within seconds, objects such as bottles, empty cans, and sachets of water were flying in the direction of the VIP guests, where President Buhari was seated.
An obviously bewildered Buhari later told a gathering of Ogun traditional rulers to “prevail on their subjects to maintain peace and respect for constituted authority”.
Indeed, January 25, 2023 was a stark contrast to the shameful and disastrous event of February 19, 2019. But how was Prince Abiodun able to banish the ghost Amosun invoked just less than four years ago?
The answer is simple: Purposeful leadership.
Even President Buhari, who paid a state visit to Ogun on January 13, 2022, testified to the power of good governance in uniting the people for a common purpose. Two years and 10 months after his horror experience, Buhari returned to a different Ogun State. It is gratifying to observe that Ogun people had put their past behind them and are now building their future together. That’s the power of purposeful leadership.
There is nothing modest about the huge contributions the Abiodun administration has made and continues to make in the development of Ogun in line with his ‘Building Our Future Together’ agenda and the I-S-E-Y-A mantra.
In less than four years, Governor Abiodun has given the good people of Ogun the kind of focused and qualitative governance that they could previously only dream of. His administration has created an enabling environment for a public-private partnership to thrive and has empowered the youths, women, and other vulnerable populations through various interventions and programmes.
More than anything else, the governor has succeeded in retaining the confidence of his supporters and gaining the trust of hitherto foes simply by anchoring his ‘Building Our Future Together’ agenda on inclusiveness, equity, fairness, transparency, accountability, justice, and obedience to the rule of law.
Since the disgraceful political drama of 2019, APC Youth League, has been marking February 11 with what they call “Freedom Walk”. During their walks, they carry placards with different inscriptions through major streets like: “Freedom From Do-or-Die Politics”.
Abeokuta has been seen as a city of paradoxes by politicians. For instance, the Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, described Abeokuta as Tinubu’s home for hoaxes, urging him to stop going to Abeokuta because it was there that Tinubu went into a tirade that earned him the sobriquet “Emilokan” and Governor DapoAbiodun “Eleyi”.
“Now, he (Tinubu) is saying the fuel scarcity is meant to make the elections fail and how they are going to take over power from them. Who are they or them? But time will tell if speaking to power from Abeokuta would be clincher for him at the general election on February 25, like it happened with how he won the APC ticket last year.
Somorin is Chief Press Secretary to Governor Dapo Abiodun