How crowd forced Buhari, Amaechi, others to abandon campaign speeches

Supporters of All Progressives Congress (APC), at the entrance of the township stadium, during the Party’s Presidential Campaign rally in Jos on Saturday (19/1/19). 00662/19/01/2019/Sunday Adah/NAN

Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s president, left the venue of his campaign in Jos without delivering his campaign speech, due to the large crowd of party supporters who overwhelmed the security at the event.

The president, who is seeking re-election, was ushered out of the venue of the rally through the back door of the stadium located at the VIP section.

Mr Buhari arrived at the Rwang Pam Stadium at about 3:30 p.m. with his entourage. On the entourage was Governor Simon Lalong and his deputy, Sunny Tyoden; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustafa; former Plateau deputy governor, Pauline Tallen, among other dignitaries.

While he was entering the venue of the rally, thousands of party supporters were hailing his arrival, chanting “4+4.” The crowd had also forced the president’s convoy to stop for security to clear the way for him to get access to the venue.

Soon after he got to the VIP area before alighting from his car, a mammoth crowd trooped towards his car and blocked all ways to get out of the car.

The situation compelled the president to sit in the car for over 30 minutes, waiting for security to control the area before he finally got to his seat as security personnel pushed back the crowd and struggled to make way.

All efforts by security agents including soldiers and the SSS, to gain control of the venue was unsuccessful, as supporters resisted all security forces.

Later, more crowd, believed to be mostly supporters of the party, surged toward the podium while some climbed the top of vehicles in the entourage of Mr Buhari, chanting “Sai Buhari, Sai Baba”.

As security personnel battled unsuccessfully to push the crowd back, Mr Buhari left the venue of the rally without delivering his speech.

Soon after the president left the venue, the special adviser on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, in a statement, described the rally as successful, saying the crowd was a sign of love for the president.

“President Muhammadu Buhari extends heartfelt appreciation to the people of Plateau State, who turned out in innumerable numbers to welcome him in Jos, during his presidential campaign visit on Saturday.

“After waiting for about an hour, with the melee not receding, but rather increasing in tempo and fervour.

“The president lauds Plateau people for turning out in their thousands to welcome him into Jos, lining the roads right from the airport, defying the boiling sun.

“We have been serving you for about four years, we want another four years mandate from you, it is needful for you to allow us give you a report. You deserve it,” the statement highlighted.

The president was later led through the rear exit and was only able to wave to party supporters as he was hurried out.

Mr Lalong and the director general of the Buhari/Osinabajo Campaign Organisation, Rotimi Amaechi, were not also able to deliver any speech at the venue due to the crowd trouble.

The governor, who could not speak at the event, later sent his speech to PREMIUM TIMES through his commissioner for information, Yakubu Dati.

“The unprecedented massive turn out of Plateau people irrespective of party affiliation is not just a demonstration of love for President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress but an endorsement of the success of the Rescue Administration in the state.”

Mr Lalong said the nonpartisan welcome confirms Plateau’s restored status by his administration as the acclaimed “Home of Peace and Tourism.”

Mr Buhari had earlier paid a courtesy visit on the Gbong Gwom Jos, Jacob Gyang Buba before going to the stadium.

He was not able to receive thousands of defectors from other political parties to APC because of the crowd that forced him to leave.

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