The crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress in Enugu State took a turn for the worse on Wednesday as major party stakeholders boycotted the APC presidential campaign rally in the state.
The presidential candidate of the party, Bola Tinubu, was reportedly received by major stakeholders of the APC at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport before he headed to the Michael Okpara Square, where he addressed supporters.
However, leaders of the party in the state, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; a former President of the Senate, Ken Nnamani; a former governor of the state, Sullivan Chime; a former Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Eugene Odoh; and a former Secretary to the State Government, Chief Onyemuche Nnamani, among others stayed away from the rally.
Also absent were the Director-General of Voice of Nigeria, Mr Osita Okechukwu, the immediate past chairman of the party in the state, Ben Nwoye; and a presidential aide, Mrs Juliet Ibekaku.
While the presidential candidate headed to the venue of the rally, the aggrieved party leaders met at Chime’s Enugu residence, where they addressed journalists.
They said their absence at the rally was to send a signal to the national leadership of the APC that something urgent must be done over the crisis in the state chapter of the party.
Blames were heaped on the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, for allegedly hijacking the APC structure in Enugu State, thereby disorganising the party.
The various speakers, including Chime, Nnamani and Odoh said they were not privy to all the preparations and programme for the rally.
They, however, described Tinubu as a good candidate, assuring stakeholders that they would work for his victory in the presidential election.
Chime said, “We received our presidential candidate at the airport. We believe in him, he is the best.
“However, we are not at Okpara Square because of the internal issues we have in Enugu within the party. It has been there and this is because sometime in October 2021, a non-member was foisted on us after the botched state party congress as a so-called chairman.
“The party leaders went to Abuja, complained but nobody took them seriously, the issues continued. So, we have to distance ourselves from the local chapter of the party.
“After today, we expect that the party will do the right thing.”
On the party’s candidate, Chime said, “We will ensure that he gets more than the required 25 per cent. Enugu must be counted.
“Today’s event is just a rally, the major thing is the election and we are working hard to see to the victory of the party.”
Meanwhile, at the rally attended by a large crowd, Tinubu assured his supporters that he would make Igboland an industrial hub.
He came hard on the successive governments over their failure to construct the Second Niger Bridge, which he said would be inaugurated soon, having been completed by the APC administration.
The APC candidate called on Ndigbo to collect their Permanent Voter Cards.
He said, “Let’s tell each other the whole truth, we are still fighting for a railway line and struggling across the country to build our port, to build a rail line from Zungeru to Lagos to Calabar to Enugu, rail to evacuate those coal and fire our furnaces to produce electricity. “Don’t bring me that nonsense of estimated billing and that you are not ready, no we can do it ourselves. Not just export of yam and cassava only, we can be an agro processing centre.
“We have only over 200 million people to feed, we are not going to starve to death.
“As you pray, be ready to sacrifice for Nigeria. Here you are, if the Federal Government collaborates with you, if you elect me as the president and we work together, we can site the industrial hub for Enugu, an industrial hub for Imo, for Ebonyi, Anambra, Abia, build seaports, two in Port Harcourt, fabricating engines, making all the things necessaries not just cutlass and bag makers.
“Enugu will become an industrial hub greater than before. There will be jobs for all of you. You have the edible mineral resources to propel economic recovery. You are all equally an agricultural powerhouse that can produce many cash crops even before now you were producing flowers and exporting them.”