THE GOOD AND BAD TALES OF JONATHAN'S CAMPAIGN IN SOUTH-EAST
After he flagged-off his campaign in the South-east on February 11, President Goodluck Jonathan last Wednesday returned to the region to consolidate his hold on the people of the zone. The first state the president touched down to begin his presidential rally in the zone was Imo State on Wednesday. He had arrived in the state from Minna, Niger State.
Before his arrival, Governor Ikedi Ohakim had mobilized the people to give the president a rousing welcome and indeed, Jonathan was overwhelmed when he arrived at the Sam Mbakwe International Airport and by 3:33 p.m. when he came into the Dan Anyiam Stadium venue for the rally, the over 50,000 capacity stadium was filled to the brim.
As soon as the president came into the stadium he went round to acknowledge cheers from the large crowd who had been indoctrinated in the 'Let's Do More' new philosophy and slogan of Governor Ohakim.
Imo people who spoke at the occasion, from the PDP Chairman in the state, Chief Eze Duruiheoma (SAN), Engr. Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Dr Kema Chikwe, Nze Fidelis Ozichukwu, Hon Emeka Ihedioha and Chief Ralph Obioha, all assured the president of Imo support in the April polls.
To cap this up was Governor Ohakim who delved into analogy to illustrate that the president and his party, the PDP, were well ahead of other candidates in the presidential race.
Hear the governor: 'In the international political airport of Nigeria, eight aircraft fully loaded with people, only one could take off. The other seven aircraft are having very serious technical problems. The only aircraft that has taken off is the PDP aircraft. The other aircraft, Mr President, I want to announce to you the people in them are beginning to disembark; 42 political parties have disembarked from the aircraft, they are here now to join the aircraft of the PDP. The PDP aircraft just left the Minna International Airport few hours ago and landed at the Sam Mbakwe International Airport.'
Ohakim told the visiting president that the coming election was not about any other thing but 'consolidation, it is about partnership with the Federal Government, it is about partnership to make sure that we do more for the people.'
He reminded Jonathan that himself and the Imo people have had a wonderful relationship with him, saying 'I personally have had a wonderful relationship with you. I am one of the people in this country who would enter your bedroom, knock at your bathroom even when you are taking your bath.'
Ohakim assured the President that the Imo people would vote for him 100 per cent like they did at the Eagle Square during the presidential primary, adding that 'we will return all PDP candidates from the House of Assembly, governorship, National Assembly and the presidency; Mr President the Igbo cannot afford to vote for the opposition against the Federal Government.'
Indeed, Jonathan believed the Imo people and their governor for he said they had always supported him even from the day he decided to become a politician.
'My brothers and sisters from Imo State you have shown that you take me as one of you from day one that I got involved in politics. And I am saying so not even when I got to Abuja as vice president, from the day I stated my job as deputy governor in Bayelsa State I know the relation I have with the sons and daughters of the entire South-east, you have shown me love and acceptance,' the president said.
Jonathan who the state and Imo people gathered the next day before he left for Abia State to raise fund for his campaign assured the people that his government would always remember them by making sure that what is due for the state gets to it.
But the president reminded the Imo people that for them to fulfill their promise they must ensure that the PDP returned to power in the state and at the centre.
'For us to succeed, we at the centre will work with you and we know that you will vote for Ohakim because I need him, I need to work with somebody like him to make sure that these good things will come to Imo State,' Jonathan said.
After the fund raiser in Imo on Thursday, the president proceeded to Aba in Abia State where he addressed the people of the state in the Enyimba Stadium.
As early as 8:00 a.m. all the major roads leading to the commercial city of Aba were condoned off.
But the joy the president carried from Imo to Abia began to wane as soon as his wife, Dame Patience, started to address the rally and mentioned the name of Governor Theodore Orji.
The crowd like when the Enyimba Football Club was losing at home in a match booed and jeered at the mention of Governor Orji's name by the First Lady.
What had gone wrong? The crowd had gathered to welcome and show solidarity to President Jonathan; no less, no more, they said.
The Enyimba city dwellers that had been held by the throat by kidnappers in recent times until the deployment of troops by the federal authorities were not happy that Governor Orji had neglected the city, thus they did not want his name to be mentioned at the presidential rally.
However, President Jonathan was able to deliver his promises to the people, particularly his commitment to industrializing the city which he hoped would produce the first local aircraft for the country.
The Aba visit delayed the coming of the president to Ebonyi State, which he eventually made close to the evening.
On hand at the Abakaliki Township Stadium to receive the president were the governor of Ebonyi State, Chief Martin Elechi; his Enugu State counterpart, Dr Sullivan Chime; former governor of Ebonyi State, Dr. Sam Egwu, former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim; Ambassador to Mexico, Chief Lawrence Nwuruku and other prominent people.
At the rally, Elechi who is the South-east campaign coordinator for the president assured him of 100 per cent votes of the people of his state like they did at the presidential primaries in Abuja.
President Jonathan also at the rally announced the conversion of the Federal Medical Centre Abakaliki to a teaching hospital where it is hoped that students of the newly established Federal University at Ndifu-Alike Ikwo of the state would carry out their medical training.
The president also promised to dualise the deplorable federal Abakaliki-Enugu expressway to enhance easy movement of vehicles and commuters.
The next day, Friday, the president left Ebonyi State for Anambra State which is controlled by the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). APGA had already adopted Jonathan as its presidential candidate in the April polls.
But the presidential rally at the Basilica of the Holy Trinity, Onitsha was not one the APGA faithful in Anambra State would take for granted as the party is featuring candidates aside the president in the April elections.
Therefore, the PDP and APGA struck a deal that no partisan items would be allowed into the rally ground, making the occasion to be bereft of party flags and posters that dotted the other rallies the president staged earlier in the week.
Governor Peter Obi at the rally explained to the people of Anambra State that APGA decided to adopt President Jonathan going by his performance since he mounted the saddle as president even as he assured that the people of the state would vote for him.
Like he did in other states of the South-east, Jonathan opened his bag of promises to the Anambra people which included the completion of the second Niger Bridge and the completion of the Onitsha Inland Port, among others.