The All Progressives Congress, APC, on Tuesday held a mega rally in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, for the re-election of the state governor, Rauf Aregbesola, in the August 9 governorship election.
The rally, attended by the chieftains of the party, including governors elected on the platform of the APC, also witnessed the defection of a former governor of the state, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, to the party.
Among those present were a national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu, its national chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, former interim national chairman, Bisi Akande, a former governor of the state and former senator, Isiaka Adeleke, former governor of Kwara State, Bukola Saraki, a former PDP acting national chairman, Abubakar Baraje, and two former governors of Ekiti State, Niyi Adebayo and Segun Oni.
Governors Adams Oshiomhole (Edo), Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara), Adejoke Oorelope-Adefulire (Deputy governor, Lagos State) also attended the mega rally.
However, the PDP dismissed the event as a colossal failure, a jamboree of rented crowd, saying that it was “full of hollow and meaningless speeches symptomatic of a sinking party, desperate for survival.”
The PDP, which is the main opposition in the state, held its rally on Saturday in Osogbo. It was attended by President Goodluck Jonathan, his deputy, Namadi Sambo and the National Chairman of the party, Adamu Mu’azu.
Speaking at the APC rally, Mr. Oyegun asked the PDP-led Federal Government and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to allow the people’s wish to reign in the governorship election.
“In Osun, I have seen love and passion for Aregbesola. In Osun, I have seen what it means for a governor to be popular,” he said. “For those who have ears, let them hear and not tamper with a single vote in Osun. From now on, the battle line is drawn. The APC would not recognise any government with stolen mandate, it must not happen again.”
The APC national chairman said Nigerians wanted change and that “if anybody steals the people’s mandate come 2015, APC would not recognise that government.”
Mr. Tinubu also charged INEC to allow the people’s will reflect in the result of the election.
The former Lagos State governor asked the party faithful not to be intimidated by the heavy presence of security personnel and asked security agents to act according to the Constitution.
Speaking on behalf of the APC governors, Mr. Oshiomhole said Mr. Aregebsola’s performance had put fear into the minds of the PDP and his other opponents. He said the governor represented light while the others represented darkness.
Apparently referring to the PDP candidate in the election, Iyiola Omisore, Mr. Adeleke during his speech asked the people of Osun State not to vote for a “prisoner.”
The Third Republic governor of Osun State, who recently decamped to the APC from the PDP, said only Mr. Oyinlola could explain how Mr. Omisore regained freedom following his arrest over the December 2011 killing of a former governor of the old Oyo State, Bola Ige.
Speaking at the rally, Mr. Aregbesola, flanked by his wife, and his deputy, said when Mr. Jonathan led the PDP faithful to Osun State for a rally last Saturday, residents of the state were in a mourning mood.
He said he observed that the people became happy with the APC rally.
The governor, who spoke in Yoruba, described the APC as a party of intellectuals and gentlemen and the PDP as a party of liars, deceit and thuggery.
Mr. Aregebsola said he was happy that the people of the state were tired of the PDP hence the mass movement to the APC.
“Why would anybody remain in a party that the people of your state don’t like,” he asked.
The governor said the APC had realised why the party lost in Ekiti State in the June 21 governorship election in that state.
He commended the conduct of the security personnel deployed to the state and asked them to employ wisdom in the discharge of their duties.
Mr. Aregbesola, who described the PDP as “vote robbers,” also taught the party supporters how to vote during the election. He said the PDP lacked the capacity to carry on with the transformation his administration began.
However, in a statement by its spokesperson, Olisa Metuh, the PDP dismissed the rally as a jamboree of rented crowd.
“Nigerians are aware that at the rally was a crowd mobilised from other states to join APC officials who were forced to relocate to Osun to create an impression of massive support for the party and its candidate,” it said. “However, we invite the APC to note that it is only the people of Osun and not their hired crowd and horde of entertainers that will vote on
Noting that a big humiliation awaited the APC, the PDP lampooned APC leaders, saying they experienced a foretaste of the bitter fate ahead when the citizens of Osun State booed and jeered at them, calling their party “one-chance bus” as they arrived the state with their rented supporters.
The PDP thanked the people of the state for the support and solidarity shown its candidate, Iyiola Omisore, while urging them to remain vigilant ahead of the election.