By Michael Adesanya/Abeokuta
Violence on Monday marred the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
Political thugs engaged each other outside and inside the M.K.O Abiola Stadium where it was held, resulting in injury of many.
Some set of thugs threw stones at APC chieftains, including President Muhammadu Buhari who sat on the podium.
Among those at the podium were national leader of the party, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Chief Segun Osoba, the party’s leader in the state Chief Bisi Akande, Rauf Aregbesola, Rotimi Amaechi and others.
Before President Muhammadu Buhari’s arrival at the venue, thugs believed to be supporters of the party’s Governorship candidate, Prince Dapo Abiodun and that of Allied Peoples Movement (APM), Hon. Adekunle Akinlade engaged each other in a bloody clash.
Trouble started when the APC national Chairman, Adams Oshiomole was called upon to deliver his speech. He was booed and stones thrown at him.
The crowd, mostly Amosun’s loyalists started trooping out of the stadium, forcing Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to plead to them, “Please don’t go, the President will soon finish “.
Amosun in his earlier speech stated “We have accepted President Muhammad Buhari as our father. In the interest of the love, respect we have for Mr President, let’s swallow our pride and subdue our anger. Don’t let them go back with an erroneous impression that we are not for Buhari.”
The Governor insinuated “Yorubas are not two in the country. We are the Afenifere, we are those that will use our PVCs to defeat those who call themselves Afenifere. Who else is Afenifere if we are not Afenifere. Tinubu, Akande, and other Yoruba leaders are here.”
He quickly added “They are not your friends, they are our enemy. We are going to fight them with our vote. We will show the true opinion poll on Saturday,March 2.
“The other one (Governorship race), we will resolve it on March 2 We are respecting President Muhammadu Buhari, don’t transfer your anger to APC. I have told you that you will all be one by March 3 and you will come back to APC. You know what to do when it is March 2, but honour me in February (Presidential election day) 16 and vote for Buhari.
As soon as Amosun ended his speech, Aregbesola, former Osun State Governor took the microphone and stressed in response to Amosun’s remark “We are not happy with a hypocrite among us. We are APC, but many people are hypocrites here. We must ensure that in March 2 and February 16, we vote APC.”
In his quick reaction to the incident, Amosun pleaded to the crowd, most of who are his loyalists “Don’t disgrace me. We are here because of President Muhammadu Buhari.”
Akinlade whose party has pledged to vote for Buhari was part of the crowd.
Amosun, though still an APC member is sponsoring Akinlade against Abiodun in the Governorship race.
The belief of many APC supporters who were waiting for Buhari to tell all APC members that they should vote for Dapo Abiodun in the March 2 elections were disappointed as Buhari after raising Abiodun’s hands told his party faithful to vote for whoever they prefer.
Buhari in his address stated “I am here specifically to thank you for coming out in your numbers despite the weather to see and listen to us”.
“I will like to remind you in 2015 our party, the All Progressives Congress made different promises and undertakings, such as security, economy and fighting corruption. Where ever I go, I try to update Nigerians on our performance for the past three and half years. The people of the north eastern Nigeria are one mostly affected then by insecurity.”
“When we talk about infrastructure, we are building road, rails and power, you will be the witnesses by the time we complete the next four years.”
“I admit you to practice your civic right come next Saturday, and on the 2nd of March to choose whoever you like across the parties.”
“This is your right so there is no problem about it, I have no problem about it, and you shouldn’t have problems about it.”
The fracas which occurred outside the stadium in the morning, resulted in many injuries of people who were struggling to get into the stadium.
At a point, the police had to use teargas to disperse the people but it rather fueled the violence as a result of which many people had to leave before the arrival of Buhari and his team at 3:00pm.
Many expressed surprise that a Fuji musician called to entertain at the occasion, prodded the hoodlums on with inciting lyrics even as those who ought to ensure orderliness at the venue acted as though they were on holiday.