By Sam Oditah/Umuahia
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun said that President Muhammed Buhari was working hard to rebuild the foundation of Nigeria and also end the current economic hardship.
Oyegun said this on Tuesday at a mega rally organised by the Abia chapter of the party at the Umuahia Township Stadium, to welcome a host of defectors from other parties to the APC.
Among the politicians who switched their party allegiance were the former governor of Abia, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, the former Speaker of the Abia House of Assembly, Chief Martins Azubuike (PDP) (Isialangwa north constituency), former Deputy Gov. Chris Akomas (Progressive Peoples Alliance), former PDP governorship aspirant, Chief Uche Ogah, and retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Chief Azubuko Udah.
Others defectors were four members of the state house of assembly, namely Chief Ikedi Ezekwesiri (APGA) (Umunneochi constituency), Minority Leader, Chief Solomon Okogbuo (APGA) (Bende south constituency) and Chief Theophelus Ugboajah (APGA) (Ikwuano constituency).
Oyegun who expressed excitement over the calibre of defectors into APC in Abia, notably the former Abia governor, Chief Kalu, hoped that the party would take over the state in 2019.
He charged the defectors to brave the challenge to deliver the state to APC, saying that he would hold them accountable during the election.
Oyegun also told the rally about the efforts President Muhammadu Buhari to make the Nigerian economy better.
“There is no question we have some hardship in the land but every minute Buhari is working to rebuild the foundation of Nigeria,” Oyegun said.
He reeled out some of the foundational projects being executed by the Buhari administration to put the country on the path of economic recovery and sustainable development.
According to him, Nigeria remains one of the few nations in the world that does not have a functional rail system.
“Until we have a functional railway, we cannot develop,” Oyegun said, and commended the present administration for constructing standard rail line from one end of the country to another.
He further said that the administration had made a quantum leap on power generation, saying that with the current 7000 megawatts, the country would soon begin to enjoy stable power.
On agriculture, the APC national chairman expressed delight that Nigeria had become self-sufficient in rice production due to Federal Government’s pragmatic policy on rice.
“So the message I am giving you is that the bad days are coming to an end. The good days are beginning by the end of this year,” he said.
He said that the president was resolute and unshakeable in his commitment to transform the country, the name-callings and disbelief, notwithstanding.
Gov. Rochas Okorocha of Imo urged Southeast Nigerians to avoid playing “primitive, regional and clanish politics,” saying that it would do them no good.
Okorocha, who said that Ndigbo played “bad politics” in 2015, urged them to go for national politics.
The National Vice Chairman of the party, Chief Emmanuel Enukwu, said that the party in the South east had endorsed Buhari to run for second tenure.
Other speakers, including the National Organising Secretary, Sen. Osita Izunaso, National Auditor of the party, Chief George Muoghalu, and former Gov. Sullivan Chime of Enugu state, urged all the Southeast states to move into APC and support Buhari’s second term.
They expressed confidence that Buhari’s re-emergence in 2019 held huge prospect for the emergence of the nation’s president of Igbo extraction in 2023.
In his speech, Chief Orji Kalu promised “to put everything I have to bring Abia to APC,” saying that the state needed “to be liberated from bondage.”
He said that although the party recorded less than six per cent votes in 2015 in Abia, he would work hard to beef up the figure to 75 per cent in 2019.
He said that the party would deploy “federal might” to resist thuggery and any attempt to rig APC out during the 2019 polls.
In an address of welcome, the state chairman of the party, Chief Donatus Nwankpa, expressed joy over the meteoric rise and expansion of the party in Abia.
Nwankpa lauded the president for “his landmark achievements,” and taking Nigeria out of recession to economic transformation.
He said that Buhari had performed credibly in the South east, citing the reconstruction of the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, Enugu-Onitsha Expressway and the second Niger Bridge, as instances.
He however called for more federal presence in Abia and the appointment of people from the area into strategic positions.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that all the speakers were unanimous that the APC government had executed more projects in the Southeast in its two-and-a-half years than what was done in the area in the past 16 years before it assumed power at the centre.
In an affirmative voice vote, the mammoth crowd that attended the rally chorused their pledge to support the re-election of Buhari in 2019.