AGBASO: A MAMMOTH CROWD AND HUMBLING SHOW
Barely one month after the Supreme Court gave its ruling on the protracted legal battle on the April 14, 2007 gubernatorial election in Imo State, the APGA standardbearer, Chief Martins Agbaso made a grand entry into Owerri, the Imo State capital amid pomp and ceremony . Date was Friday, August 13, 2010. Party supporters and sympathizers thronged the streets of Owerri and Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport to accord him a rousing welcome.
Chief Agbaso who was on board Arik airline 5N-MJP landed in the airport at exactly 11:20am and the enthusiastic crowd that had defied the early morning downpour went into ectasy. It took a combined team of security agents including the police a very hectic time to dislodge the cheering crowd from mobbing him.
The National leadership of APGA led by its Secretary, Alhaji Sani Shinkafi as well as the state chapter of the party were on hand to receive him. From the airport, the train moved to Owerri before finally berthing at the Mount Camel Catholic premises, Emekuku by 1.25 pm, venue of the grand reception. The arrival of Chief Agbaso at the venue was heralded by 21 gunshots with the youths, old men and women shouting 'ocho udo-ocho udo.' His kinsmen were not left out. 'Okada' riders, 'Keke' operators and bus commercial drivers took over the streets in demonstration of solidarity.
The first to fire the salvo was the monarch of Emekuku Kingdom , Eze Peter Ugochukwu Obi represented by one of his cabinet chiefs, Chief Henry Mbamonyekwu who reassured him of their continued support at all times. Eze Ugochukwu Obi told the 2007 APGA candidate to always count on their support in his future political endeavours. The royal father advised him to remain steadfast, focused and never be deterred by the setback.
The state chapter of the party was on hand to show its solidarity to Agbaso who had fought gallantly to reclaim the mandate presumably freely given to the party on April 14, 2007.
The national leadership led by Alhaji Shinkafi on the occasion claimed that Chief Agbaso won the election but regretted that the poll was allegedly annulled by then chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Maurice Iwu, an Indigene of the state.
Shinkafi therefore charged the people to come out en-masse and participate in the forthcoming voters' registration to enable them vote for candidates of their choice in the 2011 general elections. When it was the turn of Chief Agbaso to address the crowd, he was again greeted with by another round of 21 gunshots . Agbaso who described the crowd, as unprecedented, said that he was humbled by the number of people that came out to receive him after the long legal battle.
Agbaso, who left the country a month ago after the apex court had handed down its judgment said, 'I have not seen this show of support and solidarity before. The reception has completely humbled.' He reminded the crowd and that he kicked off his campaign on the race to Douglas House, Owerri at the same venue five years ago. ' Exactly five years ago, I kicked off my campaign at this venue. I assured you that the people of Imo State would never be taken for granted. I kept faith.'
He disclosed that the neglect and sufferings of the people were some of the factors that compelled him to throw his hat into the ring. According to him, his mission was to ensure that the welfare of the people of the state is guarantee and people liberated from the hands of political jobbers even as he declared that he is no longer seeking personal wealth.
During a press conference at his residence in Emekuku, Chief Agbaso was sad that the 1,296,314 secondary schools and 18 general hospitals in the state were still in comatose. He insisted that the morale of the over 24322 teachers in the state was still low, due to delay in the payment of their salaries as the upsurge of insecurity has created tension in the state.
The crowd and the protracted political crisis rocking the ruling Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) in the state are pointers to the direction of the 2011 polls.