The All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday expressed confidence it would retain power in the 2019 elections, notwithstanding opposition by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and dozens of other political parties.
The PDP on Monday had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the parties under the aegis of the Coalition of Unity Political Parties (CUPP). The move is expected to present a major challenge to the APC’s bid to retain power in the polls.
In a terse statement by its spokesman, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, the APC vowed the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration would not waiver in its resolve to rid Nigeria of corruption and improve the quality of people’s lives.
It said: “We respect the right of everyone to join any association or group. However, we wish to reiterate that the so-called Reformed All Progressives Congress (R-APC) is not a faction of our party. Our party, the APC remains united under the leadership of our president, Buhari.
“It is also noteworthy that some political parties that have been named as signatories to the MoU have disassociated themselves from the publicised deal.
“We once again reiterate the commitment of our party to address real grievances of our genuine members. We call on them to take advantage of this opportunity while the windows for reconciliation are still open.”
This came as Buhari and APC chieftains held a grand rally ahead of Saturday’s Ekiti State governorship election yesterday.
The event held at the Oluyemi Kayode Stadium amid tight security. The Nigeria Police Force carried out air surveillance, as ground operatives frisked all passers-by.
Buhari asked the electorate in Ekiti not to waste their votes in the election, urging voters to elect the APC candidate, Kayode Fayemi.
He warned the people not to be deceived by Fayose’s “stomach infrastructure” programme, saying the initiative is at variance with functional democracy.
Buhari said he was in Ekiti, not only to campaign for Fayemi, but also to sensitise the people to the dividends of democracy they had received.
According to him, his administration has executed 13 projects in the state, which in turn have provided direct and indirect jobs for many residents.
Also addressing the crowd, the national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, said Fayemi would redress all the wrongs of the Fayose administration. He promised that all the salaries and emoluments owed workers by the Fayose administration would be paid.
The National leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on his part, assured the people that the APC is committed to the progress and development of the country.
“It was the PDP that destroyed the future of Nigeria and those yet unborn. PDP stole all the monies and made life difficult for all the citizens. It is not easy to rebuild what the PDP has spent long years destroying. You must not allow anybody to intimidate you. I urge you to guard your PVCs and use them wisely on Saturday.
“It is your turn in Ekiti to get a good government. It is not for you alone but for your children and their future,” Tinubu said.
A highpoint of the event was the formal defection to the APC by many PDP members including Senator Fatimah Raji-Rasaki and a member of the House of Representatives, Oni Olamide.
But while the rally lasted, Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose, held a counter gathering at Government House.
The carnival-like assembly featured a musician.
Addressing the mammoth crowd, Fayose, chided the Federal Government for drafting security men to block the gates of the Government House.
He mocked the APC for allegedly hiring a crowd from neighbouring states to attend the rally. “They brought them from Ondo, Kogi, Osun and other neighbouring states. They are all foreigners. They have no voting strength. I will stand up to you (APC) in the election. We will match them bumper to bumper.”
In a statewide broadcast, earlier in the day, the governor, whose deputy is seeking election on the platform of the PDP, directed residents to stay indoors. Commercial drivers and motorcyclists were required to withdraw their services, even as public offices and major markets were to be closed. The restriction was to have lasted until 4:00 p.m., when the APC rally would have ended.
All offices at the state’s secretariat complied. But contrary to the directive, aimed at spiting the president, many commercial drivers plied their trade, while market men and women continued with their businesses.
Commercial drivers who supported the governor, however, acted differently, parking their vehicles at Government House.
The rally in Ekiti State, meanwhile, caused ripples in neighbouring Ondo State, as banks in the four Local Governments Areas of Akoko in Ondo North Senatorial District failed to open for operations yesterday.
It was learnt that policemen guarding the banks were drafted to Ekiti to provide adequate security for the president’s visit.
The development left many customers unable to make transactions and frustrated.
Anxious customers who wanted to withdraw money reportedly besieged Automated Teller Machines (ATM) in major towns like Akungba, Arigidi and Oka.
An employee of one of the new generation banks, pleading anonymity, said the banks were closed to prevent attacks by armed robbers.
“The banks did not open because there were no policemen to provide security for them. All of them (policemen) have been sent to Ekiti State to provide security to Mr. President. You will find very few policemen in the towns. All of them are now in Ekiti for a political rally. A similar thing happened in 2014. Policemen were deployed for a political rally. Robbers struck at the banks, killing many people and stealing money.
“So, we don’t want such to happen again at our banks. I believe, tomorrow (today), if the policemen return to their duty posts, we will open for customers to transact but today it is very risky to open banks in these areas. We don’t want armed robbers to take advantage of police absence.”