Owerri, the capital of Imo State, practically stood still on Tuesday as citizens trooped out in their numbers to receive the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, accompanied by President Muhammadu Buhari and key Party leaders to a rally that qualifies as mother of all rallies.
The Dan Anyiam stadium on popular Wetheral road, Owerri, where the presidential rally took place was filled to capacity with thousands of APC faithful taking available space outside.
The sea of heads in attendance was a beautiful sight to behold with Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State who doubles as the South East Coordinator for the APC Presidential Campaign assuring visiting President Buhari, Tinubu and the key Party leaders who came from far and wide, that Imo citizens are prepared to elect the APC Presidential candidate as their President come February 25, 2023.
Signs of joy over President Buhari’s visit, the fourth since Governor Uzodimma took over power, started manifesting hours before the APC Presidential rally took off when the President was honoured with a chieftaincy title of Nwanne di na Mba of Imo State ( brother in Diaspora) by the entire traditional rulers in Imo State, represented by the 27 Chairmen across local government areas who superintendent over the affairs of their communities.
The event which took place at the Eze Imo Palace at Mbari Street, Owerri was coordinated by the Chairman of Imo State Council of traditional rulers, HRH Eze Dr. Emmanuel C Okeke and also had in attendance, Tinubu, the Party’s National President, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu and other key leaders of the APC.
Clad in his chieftaincy regalia, a grateful President Buhari proceeded straight to commission the 12.5 km MCC road abandoned 39 years ago but rebuilt by the Uzodimma administration amid praises by residents.
Welcoming Mr President to the State for the APC mega rally and commissioning of the road project, the Governor expressed gratitude on behalf of Imo people for his support to his administration in the last three years which he said has resulted to improved road infrastructure, fight against insecurity, upgrade of State and Federal establishments, among others.
The Governor recalled that the President was kind enough to grant his genuine requests to reconstruct Owerri/Okigwe road, Owerri/Orlu road, Owerri/Umuahia road and Orlu/Mgbee/Akaokwa/Ugah roads, among others.
“This is in addition to granting my request for the establishment of a Teaching Hospital at the present Federal Medical Centre and the upgrade of Alvan Ikoku College of Education to a University Status.”
The Governor added that “when it became obvious that Imo is being taken over by bandits and the activities of oil theft were growing astronomically, Mr. President came to the rescue through the establishment of a Naval Base at Oguta and sent in security agencies to bring peace and ensure reasonable security of lives and property in Imo State.”
He therefore assured Mr. President that his government and the people of Imo State “will in the spirit of Valentine’s Day show Mr. President and his entourage love in both spirit and action,” noting that “Imo State is an APC State in spirit and action.”
Governor Uzodimma reiterated that the APC in Imo State will not disappoint Mr. President’s expectations and assured him that as governor, he will never betray the confidence reposed in him by the people of Imo State.
He also reminded President Buhari that “Imo people are ready for the elections and will surely vote Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu come Saturday, the 25th of February, 2023.”
President Buhari in his brief remarks at the rally expressed gratitude to the Government and people of Imo State for their support to his government and urged them to do well to “elect the APC Presidential Candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the next President of Nigeria.”
Addressing the mammoth crowd, the APC Presidential Candidate expressed happiness that the rally in Imo State coincided with the Valentine’s Day celebration and used the opportunity to wish all and sundry a happy Valentine’s Day.
He told the APC faithful that he came to Imo State with love, peace, stability and progress and promised to join the Governor Uzodimma to continue the developmental programmes of the APC-led administration at both the National and the State government levels.
He assured that he will “make Imo State one of the most attractive tourism states, add value to real estate in Imo State as well as improve the educational standard and programmes of the State and country in general where there will be no more ASUU strike and four years will be four years.”
Furthermore, Tinubu pledged to imbibe the incorruptible principles of President Buhari by “prudently managing and improving revenue capacity as well as joining the Imo State Governor and Government to eliminate insecurity and inhuman treatment.”
In their different speeches, the National Chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, his predecessor, former Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole who represented the DG, Presidential Campaign Council, Governor Simon Lalong, the Governor of Ebonyi State, Eng. Dave Umahi, that of Lagos State, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, all expressed happiness over the turn out of Party faithful which they said reinforced their confidence in the capacity of Governor Uzodimma to deliver on every assignment given to him.
They were all in agreement that Governor Uzodimma has shown leadership, competence and character and urged Imo people to “vote for better future, for security and improved economy in the coming elections.”
Earlier on arrival in Imo State, President Buhari and the Presidential Candidate of the APC, Tinubu and their entourage had paid a courtesy call on the Chairman, Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers, HRM Eze Dr. Okeke at the Palace of Eze Imo in Mbari Street Owerri, Imo State where Mr. President was conferred with the Chieftaincy Title of “NWANNE DI NA MBA” of Imo State.
Responding to the gesture by the Traditional Rulers, President Buhari said that he will “cherish the honour done to him for the rest of his life.’’
He told the Traditional Rulers and all present that he chose to come to Imo with the Presidential Candidate because he sees Imo State as his own, noting that he “will be ready to come to Imo again and again when invited.”
President Buhari reminded the monarchs and other statesmen that “the Governor of Imo State is always coming to Abuja to ask for assistance on things that concern Imo people and that has endeared me to his government and his administration.”
Also speaking at the Eze Imo Palace, Tinubu thanked the monarchs for the honour done to Mr. President and expressed happiness that Imo Traditional Rulers were able to recognize the strong bond that exists between the Governor and Mr. President, hence the conferment of the title.
“The visit is part of the process towards stepping into the shoes of Buhari as the next president of Nigeria.”
Governor Uzodimma on his part at the courtesy call also thanked the Traditional Rulers for the honour done Mr. President and used the occasion to reiterate the gratitude of the government and people of Imo State to President Buhari over his assistance that facilitated the growth and development of the State.
In his welcome remarks, Eze Okeke thanked President Buhari for his love for Ndi Imo and for the Governor as shown in the Federal Government’s presence within the three years of Governor Uzodimma’s administration and urged him to continue to keep the channel of friendship and brotherliness open.
Eze Okeke, on behalf of the whole Traditional Rulers in Imo State wished President Buhari and the APC leadership a successful outing on their mega campaign rally in Owerri and after.