Photos: APC 2015 Presidential Rally/Campaign in Maiduguri, Borno State. Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari, could not deliver his campaign speech in Maiduguri yesterday as thousands of his supporters who converged for the Maiduguri rally forced him to leave the venue amidst deafening and sustained chanting of campaign slogans in support of his candidature. The mammoth crowd welcomed Gen. Buhari and his team to Maiduguri were unprecedented in the history of such gathering in the state.
Sources close to Ali Modu Sheriff camp said that the Ex-Governor who recently boasted that he will deliver Borno to the PDP following a dismal parade of few hired crowd in the PDP presidential rally in Maiduguri was shock to learn that such crowd had turn out to receive the APC Presidential candidate in Borno state; a disbelieving shock that saw him visiting the toilet three times as he sat watching the programme.
The crowd you are seeing is not a hired crowd but REAL. More than 100,000 supporters filed out from every nook and cranny of Maiduguri as early as 6am, all armed with brooms and many dressed in APC T-shirts as they continued to sing and dance along the streets of Maiduguri.
Hours before the arrival of General Buhari at Maiduguri, the venue was already filled to capacity even as heavily armed soldiers battled ceaselessly to prevent many more that were still trooping in from going inside.
At a point, the apparently exasperated soldiers and policemen were forced to shoot into the air and release some canisters of tear gas in a failed attempt to keep the crowd at bay.
Several persons who made it into the venue of the rally were reported to have slumped in a stampede as frustrated soldiers angrily used whips on the unrelenting crowd that kept surging into the main arena.
General Buhari, accompanied by the national chairman of the APC, Chief John Oyegun, the national coordinator, Buhari/Osinbajo Campaign Organisation, Governor Rotimi Amaechi, Governor Rochas Okorocha, Chief Audu Ogbe, and a host of others, arrived Maiduguri International Airport at about 10am but his motorcade which had to snake through the sea of supporters took two hours to drive a distance of 10km to get to the palace of the Shehu of Borno.
The Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Garbai Alamin Ibn Elkanemi, who received the former military ruler that was led to the palace by the host, Governor Kashim Shettima, asked the APC candidate to prioritise security and the return of peace to Borno State. He also called for massive investment in the state in order to help recover the losses suffered by the state as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency.
In his message, Buhari emphasised that Boko Haram has nothing to do with Islam.
“If elected, our government will focus on tackling the persistent insecurity affecting the North-east of Nigeria. The APC government has a plan to see that towns and villages under the control of the insurgents are liberated and rebuilt for the displaced residents.
“It is quite unfortunate that commercial activities have been paralysed in this part of the country that once was a hub of trade and commerce, as insurgency had forced many to flee; one can still recall a Borno State where hundreds of trailers loaded with commodities take off from Maiduguri to various parts of Nigeria as well as the neighbouring countries. Today, we have a reversed case here.
“Boko Haram has nothing to do with Islam. People who don’t know anything about Boko Haram will say it is religion; no religion will accept killings, destroying of schools, markets and kidnapping of girls and say ‘insha Allah’; except we don’t know what we are saying”, he said.
At the venue of the rally, the APC presidential candidate drove into an arena that was bursting with people as the deafening cheers of the crowd overwhelmed all pleas for calm.
The crowd went wild when Buhari had to walk through the elevated isle of the mega podium. Fans of the former military head of state went out of control as they broke through the iron barricade that fenced them out and rushed towards the stand. The friendly show of support and love for the APC presidential candidate suddenly became a threat as all pleas for them to calm down fell on deaf ears. Sensing that it would amount to a waste of time if he should insist on speaking, Buhari took the advice of his aides and quickly allowed them to whisk him out of the venue.
As soon as the presidential candidate boarded his vehicle, thugs at the venue began to vandalise and loot most of the installations including the cable of some of the TV stations beaming live transmission of the rally.
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