The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, said President Muhammadu Buhari was working hard to rebuild the foundation of Nigeria and also end the current economic hardship.
Odigie-Oyegun said this on Tuesday at a mega rally organised by the Abia State 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 State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu; the former Speaker of the Abia House of Assembly, Chief Martins Azubuike (PDP-Isialangwa North Constituency); former Deputy Governor, 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).
Odigie-Oyegun, who expressed excitement over the calibre of defectors into APC in Abia State, notably 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 he would hold them accountable during the election.
Odigie-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,” he 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,” Odigie-Oyegun said and commended the present administration for constructing standard rail line from one end of the country to another.
He further said 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 the 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 the President was resolute and unshakeable in his commitment to transform the country, the name-callings and disbelief, notwithstanding.
Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State urged South East Nigerians to avoid playing “primitive, regional and clanish politics,” saying it would do them no good.
Okorocha, who said Ndigbo played “bad politics” in 2015, urged them to go for national politics.
The National Vice Chairman of the party, Chief Emmanuel Enukwu, said the party in the South East had endorsed Buhari to run for second tenure.
Other speakers, including the National Organising Secretary, Senator Osita Izunaso; National Auditor, Chief George Muoghalu; and former Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State, urged all the South East 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, Kalu promised “to put everything I have to bring Abia to APC,” saying that the state needed “to be liberated from bondage.”
He said although the party recorded less than six per cent votes in 2015 in Abia State, he would work hard to beef up the figure to 75 per cent in 2019.
He said 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 State.
Nwankpa lauded the President for “his landmark achievements” and taking Nigeria out of recession to economic transformation.
He said 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 State and the appointment of people from the area into strategic positions.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that all the speakers were unanimous that the APC government had executed more projects in the South East 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.