BY EMMANUEL AZIKEN, POLITICAL EDITOR
EKO as Lagos is otherwise called in native Yoruba parlance was on show last Tuesday as the nation’s political heavyweights descended on the nation’s commercial capital city.
It was a show of political supremacy as the nation’s two leading political parties practically held the city on standstill in five political rallies spread across the mega city.
President Goodluck Jonathan led a retinue of sympathizers of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP including 12 Governors to a rally at the Tafawa Balewa Stadium on a mission to liberate Lagos State from the grips of the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN.
The ACN on its part encircled the PDP rally with four simultaneous rallies across the state, at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere, Volkswagen Playground at Ojo, Agege Stadium and at the Gbagada playground.
Reflective of the bubbling instincts of the people of Lagos, the two parties pulled in some of the country’s leading musicians to lure crowds to the rallies. Juju star, King Sunny Ade was at the TBS for the PDP rally while fuji star, Adewale Ayuba entertained the crowd at the Teslim Balogun stadium. Lesser known musicians were conscripted by the ACN for the other campaign grounds.
But how the two parties or rather the Police agreed to allow the two parties hold simultaneous rallies was an issue that provoked many minds just before the events
The PDP in the State was quick to claim the moral high ground in noting that the ACN wanted to be a spoil sport.
“I don’t know what they want to achieve by allowing their own rally to coincide with that of PDP. But I expected that the security outfits should have sorted this out because such permission should not be granted to another party while the President is doing his own rally in the same neighbourhood,” the Secretary of the Lagos State chapter of the PDP Captain Tunji Shelle told Vanguard a day before the rally.
The Publicity Secretary of the ACN in Lagos State Mr. Joe Igbokwe, however, defended the party’s right to hold the rallies as he said that they were to sensitize their members for the flag-off of its gubernatorial campaign scheduled for tomorrow.
“It is to prepare ourselves for the major rally of Saturday when we are supposed to flag off our gubernatorial campaign, so this is just to sensitize our members and let them know what is in the offing,” Mr. Igbokwe said on the eve of the rally. It was evident that the PDP may have first slated that Tuesday for its rally and that the decision of the ACN to hold the four simultaneous rallies was a later thought. That feeling was further buttressed by the fact that the ACN in Lagos had prior to last Monday been engaged in preparations for the flag off of its gubernatorial campaign tomorrow.
Remarkably, some party officials in the state were ignorant of the rally until the eve of the show.
The PDP and ACN rallies were ordinarily earmarked to flag off the battle for the soul of Lagos by the two major political parties. But as it turned out the leading Generals from both parties were hidden from view at the two rallies.
Chief Bode George, the erstwhile Deputy National Chairman, South of the PDP generally acknowledged as the leader of the PDP in Lagos State was, turned out hidden and not allowed to talk. Presidency officials, it seemed, were after all touched by the biting criticisms from the media, civil society and opposition parties to the reception given George on his release after two years of imprisonment on charges of abuse of office.
George was present at the TBS but given his stature in the party he, however, did not make any speech.
On the other hand, the ACN national leader and godfather of all ACN candidates in Lagos, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was himself held back from the Lagos rallies as he was on the same day holding a chat with the State Security Service, SSS in Abuja.
The details of Tinubu’s chat with the security services were not as at press time available but there were insinuations that it may have been connected to Tinubu’s recent hard reactions to President Jonathan’s assertion of rascality in the Southwest. Other speculations were that he may have been invited to provide information on the face off between the Chief Justice of the Federation, CJN Justice Katsina Alu and the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami over the arbitration of the election cases in the Southwest.
Whatever it is Tinubu was absent at the Lagos rallies dramatically reducing the tempo. A close source to him, however, said that the ACN leader was not programmed to participate in the rallies giving vent to the speculations that the rallies were organized at the last minute.
Governor Babatunde Fashola moved from one rally point to another in helicopter and at every point denounced the PDP controlled Federal Government for its failures. Fashola who not too long ago denounced the state of the Oshodi – Apapa expressway linking the nation’s prime seaport to the nation’s major airport as a national embarrassment again used the opportunity of the rallies to flay the Federal Government’s abandonment of infrastructure in Lagos.
PDP leaders in their own rallies used the rally to press the case for Lagos to install a PDP government in the State.
PDP leaders at the TBS rally included event included National Chairman, Haliru Mohammed; Chief Anthony Anenih; Alhaji Oladipo Tajudeen; Governors Bukola Saraki, Kwara; Gbenga Daniel, Ogun; Ikedi Ohakim, Imo; Christopher Alao_Akala, Oyo; Akwe Doma, Nasarawa; Ibrahim Idris, Kogi; Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, Kaduna; Danbaba Suntai, Taraba; and Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu.
There were also National Publicity Secretary, Prof. Rufai Alkali; Petroleum Minister, Mrs Deziani Allison_Madueke, Finance Minister, Segun Aganga; Power Minister, Mr. Nuhu Wya; Mrs Sarah Jubril, Mr. Oronto Douglas, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Hon. Austin Opara, Chief Olabode George and PDP governorship candidate for Lagos, Dr. Ade Dosunmu among others.
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When PDP and ACN battled in Lagos