UMUAHIA, the capital of Abia State was locked down yesterday, when it hosted what the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, called a mega rally at the Umuahia Stadium, during which the South East Zone of the party endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari to run for 2019 elections. At the rally which witnessed a massive crowd of the party’s supporters, four members of Abia State House of Assembly defected to the party. They were the immediate past Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Martins Azubike, who joined from PDP; the Minority of the House, Chief Solomon Okogbuo, the former minority leader Ikedi Ezekwesiri and Hon. Theophilus Ugboaja, who represents Ikwuano State Constituency, who all decamped from the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA. APC Addressing the rally which was well attended by APC bigwigs in the South East zone, the zonal vice chairman of the party, Chief Emma Enukwu declared that the party in the zone has endorsed President Buhari to contest the 2019 election. According to Enukwu, Buhari’s second term would give the zone a faster opportunity to produce a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in 2023, and urged the people of the zone to embrace and support APC, saying it is a sincere party that would protect their interest. Also addressing the rally, a former governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu said that the party would produce a governor for the state in 2019 to change what he called “a government of debt”, saying that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu is under bondage in the state. “We want to change the government of debt in the state; we will make Abia better. I will put everything I have to put APC government in the State”, the former governor said. He told the four House members who joined the party to attend House sitting today and warned that nobody should disturb them from sitting. “Nobody will stop you from sitting. If they try it, we show them the Federal might we have. “The state is dead; they cannot pay salary, leave allowances, pension and gratuity. Okezie Ikpeazu is under bondage by the former governor. They should release Okezie Ikpeazu”, Kalu said.

In his address, former Enugu State Governor, Sullivan Chime commended Abia APC for the rally, saying it is time for the South East zone to embrace APC as the party of truth. “Those who joined the APC took a wise decision. For 16 years, we begged for the Enugu-Port Harcourt, the Enugu-Onitsha roads to be rehabilitated. As the Governor of Enugu State, I was part of the delegation but nothing happened. But today, I got to Umuahia from Enugu under an hour plus and work is also going on Enugu- Onitsha road”, he said, pointing out that PDP is a dead boat and that its engine has been removed. The chairman of Progressive Governors’ Forum and governor of Imo state, Rochas Okorocha commended Abia people for embracing the party, saying it is time for the zone to stop playing what he called clannish politics and play national politics. The national chairman of the party, Odigie John Oyegun  also urged the zone to embrace the party and ensure that APC wins the zone in 2019. PDP berates rally Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has reacted to the APC rally, chiding the ruling party for its decision to hold a rally yesterday at Umuahia, the Abia State capital. The PDP said the development was the height of disdain and insensitivity to the plight and predicaments of Nigerians under APC’s misrule.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbodiyan, the party said,   “If anything, the ruling party was in Umuahia just to spit on the faces of suffering Nigerians as well as the graves of those that have died due to the hardship occasioned by the misgovernment of the APC in their nearly three years in office. “Nigerians were disheartened to see leaders of the ruling party dancing away and making vain speeches at a time when millions are still traumatized over killings in Benue and other parts of the country, while many more are groaning under the pains of economic hardship worsened by the unabating fuel crisis in the country. “If the APC had any iota of regard for Nigerians, it would, at this moment, be brainstorming on the many woes it has caused the nation and how to shore up the economy ruined by its tactless government. “The Umuahia rally has also shown that the APC leaders are not in any way interested in the welfare of Nigerians but in their selfish, political and pecuniary interests. This even manifested in their empty speeches wherein they could not present the people with any achievement or plans for future development,” the party noted.

The statement further called on the ruling party to reckon with its conscience on what led to the poor attendance of  the rally even as it carpeted the President Muhammadu Buhari administration for failing to keep the promises made to Nigerians in his 2015 electioneering campaigns. “The APC would have learnt a lesson from the scanty turnout of Nigerians at their so called “mega rally.” The cold response by the few attendees, the refusal of the people to brandish brooms and the total absence of cheers for their leaders, including the national chairman, Chief John Oyegun, constitutes a loud act of rejection. “We invite the APC to reflect on their failure to fulfil even the smallest of the promises they made to Nigerians in 2015. We urge Abians, and indeed, every Nigerian to take heed from the failed promises of the APC and refuse to be beguiled a second time,” the statement added.

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