Thousands of All Progressives Congress (APC) supporters, yesterday, left the venue of the party’s presidential campaign rally in Bauchi disappointed. This was after a visibly disturbed President Muhammadu Buhari and APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, could not address the crowds at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium due to a technical glitch with the public address system.
But the Tinubu Media Office dismissed the alleged displeasure at the venue as sheer insinuation, saying the crowd of party supporters and other residents, who thronged the streets of Bauchi to receive Buhari and Tinubu, were electrified by the duo.
However, at the palace of the Emir of Bauchi, His Royal Highness (Dr) Rilwanu Suleiman Adamu, Buhari assessed his over seven and a half years’ rule as civilian president and gave himself a pass mark. He said he had been able to serve Nigerians diligently to the best of his ability.
Buhari’s assessment came as President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, and the APC governors gave reasons why the north should vote Tinubu as the next president at the general election. And the ruling party told the Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, to start preparing his handover note ahead of the March 11 governorship election. The senate president and the governors said the governorship candidate of APC, former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar (rtd), was waiting to take over.
THISDAY observed that the embarrassed supporters, who came in large numbers from various states of the North-east for the rally, started leaving the venue after the address of the Director General of the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong. Following this development, a visibly embarrassed Buhari and Tinubu, who were invited to the podium in tow to address the crowd, could not do so as a result of the malfunctioning of the sound system.
The power supply at the stadium also went off shortly after the national chairman of the party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, alongside Buhari, Tinubu and others mounted the podium to give their speeches.
After waiting for some minutes and the technical crew could not rectify the problem, Buhari and Adamu presented the flag to the gubernatorial candidate of the party.
But at this point, the president just went round the podium and waved to the apparently disappointed crowd, who were already on their way out of the venue.
The president then led other dignitaries down the podium into the waiting cars and drove out of the stadium to the airport en route to Lagos.
Earlier, Buhari, who arrived Bauchi around 10:20am, had proceeded to the palace of the Emir of Bauchi, Dr Rilwanu Adamu, for a courtesy visit before heading to the Sir Tafawa Balewa stadium, venue of the campaign rally.
At the Emir’s palace, Buhari, according to a release by his media adviser, Femi Adesina, acknowledged the warm reception accorded him and the continued show of love by Nigerians. He stated that the huge crowds that welcomed him wherever he went was a demonstration of genuine love and loyalty.
Buhari was quoted as saying, “I normally call on Emirs and Chiefs, whether on political or personal tours to states, to show my gratitude. I like to mention that between 2003 and 2011, I visited all the local governments, and in 2019, when I was seeking my re-election for a second term, I visited all the states of the federation and the people that turned out to see me were more than what anyone could buy or force and there, I made a promise and pledge that I will serve Nigeria and Nigerians to the best of my ability and so far, I have not disappointed anybody.”
Buhari commended Mohammed for his transformation initiative through huge investment in infrastructure across the state. He urged politicians across the country to play politics according to the rules of the game, even as he applauded the governor for providing a level playing ground for political activities in the state.
The president further appreciated the Emir and traditional institutions in the state for complementing government’s efforts towards promoting peaceful coexistence in their domains.
Mohammed said, although, the president was in the state for APC activities, he was honoured by his commendation.
However, the governor assured the president of his commitment to consolidating on the efforts put in place to ensure a peaceful and hitch-free 2023 general election.
The governor also commended the federal government for its fight against insecurity and insurgency in the North-east, saying the area is gradually regaining its sanity and safety.
In his welcome address, the Emir, who spoke earlier, remarked that it was delightful when political leaders in modern state system honoured the traditional institutions with a courtesy call. He said this was a practical demonstration of love and respect to the traditional institutions.
The traditional ruler thanked Buhari for the landmark developments, which his administration had brought to Bauchi State, declaring that the Kolmani Integrated Project is a legacy for which Bauchi State and, indeed, the North-east remains grateful.
According to him, “We cannot thank you enough and we follow the example of our governor to express our greatest gratitude. We are also pleased that you have kept your promise of reforming the electoral processes through continuous and progressive reforms and by ensuring the independence of the electoral body, of which our son, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, is the current head.
“Your determination in this and other areas of governance has been an inspiration to all right-thinking people across the country.”
The Tinubu media office, in a statement by Abdulaziz Abdulaziz, painted a different scenario of what transpired at the rally, saying the presence of Buhari and Tinubu electrified the crowd, which danced to campaign songs, while Buhari and Tinubu waved to the crowd as they moved around the podium.
Addressing the rally, Lawan hailed Buhari for discharging himself creditably and making the party proud. He said the huge turnout of people indicated the appreciation of the North-east to the Buhari administration for liberating them from the menace of Boko Haram, in addition to other benefits brought to the people.
The senate president said, “PDP abandoned the North-east to Boko Haram. They left us in their hands to kill us. At a point, when we complained they blamed us for it. But when you came, you liberated our people, you changed the story.
“It is incumbent upon us to continue to do what is expected of us by voting for the APC in appreciation of the benefits our people got from your leadership.”
Lawan, in a statement by his media aide, Ola Awoniyi, stated, “Mr. President (Buhari), we in the North-east are probably the most beneficiaries of your administration. In fact, we were the first to start enjoying your administration more than any other part of Nigeria because Boko Haram was technically defeated immediately you came into office.
“You appointed our son, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, as the Chief of Army Staff, and, of course, Air Marshal Sadique Baba Abubakar as Chief of Air Staff. They did so well that your government provided the security that we are enjoying today.
“The North-east, from 2015 particularly, enjoyed the most important appointments in your administration. That is to say that you are a north-easterner. This crowd is a testimony. Everywhere you go, it is Buhari, in the North-east.”
The Kebbi State governor, Senator Atiku Bagudu, who spoke on behalf of APC governors, also expressed appreciation to Buhari for many people-centred policies, which enriched poor farmers and aided the poor and vulnerable. Bagudu said APC governors were solidly behind the APC presidential candidate in line with Buhari’s directive for all party members to ensure the victory of “his friend and partner, Asiwaju Tinubu.”
Bagudu urged the people of Bauchi State to replicate the support they had always accorded Buhari to Tinubu in the February 25 election.
Abdulaziz, however, confirmed that both Buhari and Tinubu could not address the crowd due to electrical glitch encountered mid-way into the programme.
In a prepared speech, which he could not read at the venue, Tinubu promised to consolidate on recent gains to foster prosperity across the country.
Meanwhile, APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Hon. Yakubu Murtala Ajaka, urged the people to file out for the APC and be resolute in the quest to change the current administration in Bauchi state.
Ajaka described THE APC governorship candidate in Bauchi State as a tested and trusted personality, who had served Nigeria meritoriously but not tired, hence, his passion and mission to turn around the fortunes of Bauchi State as governor.
Ajaka, in a statement, said the massive turnout of people in Bauchi was a verdict on the maladministration of the PDP in the state, which made people to be yearning for urgent change.
Deji Elumoye, Adedayo Akinwale, Sunday Aborisade in Abuja and Segun Awofadeji in Bauchi