By Evelyn Omotoye
It was yet another solidarity convergence as the people of Ondo State hosted President Muhammadu Buhari and his vice, Prof Yemi Osinbajo as well as leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) nationwide in continuation of his presidential campaign at the popular MKO Abiola Democracy Park in Akure, Ondo State ahead of the February 16 general elections.
The heart of the Akure was agog as the mammoth crowd including different groups affiliated to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, across the length and breath of the state, party chieftains and faithful, market men and women gave a rousing welcome to the APC campaign team with a dance to the beats of the renown Fuji musician, Saheed Osupa.
Various people affirmed that Ondo State being an APC controlled government state has undoubtedly enjoyed the various programmes of the Buhari led administration since inception and these many of the residents, in appreciation, considered necessary to pay back to the government, saying one good turn deserves another.
In various interviews with cross-sections of people while awaiting the arrival of Mr President and the party leaders, the people showed great enthusiasm and expressed gratitude to the Buhari led administration for the wonderful work he has been doing to rebuild the nation and hoping that he would do much more if given a second term.
A market woman resident in Akure, Mrs Seun Odunayo said she is lending her support for the re-election of Buhari because of his antecedents and good work. She mentioned the social interventions of the present federal government to include the tradermoni which she has benefitted from without going through any godfather.
“We believe that Buhari can do it, he has given market women tradermoni and I benefitted from it. Many of my family members too benefitted from the N-power scheme and our children too were captured under his school feeding programme. These are reasons he should be given chance to continue,” she stated.
For a broom seller around the park who simply gave her name as Stella, Buhari led APC government has given her trade a boost. With so much zeal, she declared her total support for the re-election of President Buhari saying he should continue to sweep the country clean of corruption and disunity for a better Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the Aare Apaseloja of Ondo State and National President Iyaloja General of Nigeria, Chief (Mrs) Ruth Olowookere who led the market women groups maintained that the market women are not supposed to be partisan but are meant to work with the government of the day at all levels and support them for the betterment of the people.
She however lauded APC government micro credit schemes at the federal and state levels the traders have benefitted from, saying “it has given our members’ businesses a great boost and we are here to support his ambition. Our amiable governor cares a lot about market women. He really gave us a soft loan to do our business, so we must support him too”.
One of the beneficiaries of the 2016 batch of the Npower scheme of the Buhari led administration from Akoko Southwest, Innocent Ogunode said the government has been so good to the youth by engaging them to become self sufficient.
According to him, since he graduated from school in 2009, it was president Buhari who came to his rescue through his N-teach programme without knowing any godfather. He maintained that other youths who benefitted from this scheme should give their total support for Buhari in appreciation for his good deeds.
Also speaking, a coordinator of a group of food vendors in Ondo East, Mrs. Folaji Romoke said her members have benefited from the federal government school feeding programme which has also made their children happy. These she said are reasons they remain resolute in giving their total support for his re-election.
Earlier at Oba-Ile in Akure North local government area of the state where president Muhammadu Buhari met with the traditional rulers in the state to rally support round him on his reelection bid, he assured them of his government continued implementation of developmental programmes and policies to better the lot of their people.
In separate interviews with the Obas including Osemawe of Ondo Kingdom, HRM Oba Victor Kiladejo, Agadagba of Arogbo Ijaw-ibe, HIM Pere Zaccheus, Egbunu, Olowa of Igbara Oke, HRM Oba Adefarakanmi Agbede, they expressed their readiness to ensure peaceful conduct of their subjects in their respective domains before, during and after the election.
They however discouraged the involvement of traditional rulers in partisan politics or party imposition on their subjects against their interest but to allow them to vote the candidate of their choice without being harassed to ensure free, fair and credible polls.
The president’s entourage later proceeded to the venue of the campaign rally to canvass for votes and for the APC candidates jostling for different elective posts,
The crowd, majority of whom were supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) chanted numerous pro-Buhari songs while carrying placards with various inscriptions signifying their support for the Buhari/Osinbajo re-election in the February 16 general elections.
The broom-wielding crowd, decked in various APC branded outfits, thronged the ever-busy and popular Oba Adesida Road shouting “Sai Baba, Sai Baba”, meaning, Buhari for continuity in office.
Addressing the visibly elated crowd, President Buhari assured Nigerians of the resolve of the present administration to secure the country, and continue tackling all security challenges.
He explained that Boko Haram used to hold sway in some parts of the North East, but the situation was no longer so, saying his government is fighting insecurity with every vigor to ensure safety of lives and property of the citizenry.
His words:”They are now indoctrinating youths especially girls and arming them with explosives for soft targets like churches and mosques, even that has become rare.
“ln 2015, our campaign was based on tackling security challenges, fighting corruption and rejuvenating the battered economy and I believe we have not failed you. I can assure you all that we will continue to secure this country and make it corruption-free,” he said.
The President further said Nigeria was virtually self sufficient in food security, while importation of rice had reduced by 95 percent. Buhari added that the government was buying fertilizers and making them available to farmers at half price in a bid to improve the economy.
According to him, the most significant part of the campaign was fighting corruption, which was developed into the culture of the country and it could not be gotten rid of rapidly under this system.
He urged people of the state to ensure that all candidates of the APC win every elective positions in the February 16 general election both at the state and National Assembly.
Speaking at the rally, the National Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole, said the difference between the candidates of APC and PDP was very clear. He said the APC candidate cared for the poor and down trodden, and remembered their children with the school feeding programme.
“In a country that exports so much crude oil, the child of the poor should have at least one meal a day. We have also given every state government money so that workers can be paid. He has stopped importation, and we must stop exporting our jobs to Europe and importing unemployment into Nigeria,” he said.
Also, Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) described President Mohammed Buhari as a man that commands followership due to his unequalled achievements in the last three and a half years in office.
He assured him of total supports of people of the state towards his re-election bid, saying Ondo State people have benefited immensely from his various social interventions programmes.
“Mr President, even in 2015 when we were not in power, we delivered our state for you, so now that we are in power, your victory will be total. Ondo State people are indomitable. We will win massively for you, just let your mind be at peace, the South West and you have won this very one”, he assured
Also canvassing votes for the APC candidates were Vice president Yemi Osinbajo who xrayed the various achievements of the Buhari government in the last three and half years, highlighting those plans in the pipeline if given another four years to rule the country.
The national leaders of the party, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, his counterpart in Ogun, Ibikunle Amosun, former APC National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, Southwest campaign Director General , Olusola Oke, SAN, among APC other party stalwarts were at the event to seek for the people’s support for the victory of President Buhari and other candidates of their party in the forthcoming general elections.
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