Prominent Imo State political leaders have commended President Muhammadu Buhari for standing firm with the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Senator Hope Uzodinma, at the presidential rally in Owerri, on Tuesday, in spite of pressures by Governor Rochas Okorocha, to get him do otherwise.
Buhari had raised Senator Uzodinma’s hand at the rally and urged Imo people to vote for him, shortly after emphasising that the people should vote across party line, which some people interpreted as meaning that he said they could vote for another candidate outside APC.
But, Imo political leaders in different reactions lambasted those who interpreted the president’s speech to mean voting for another party, wondering why he raised Uzodinma’s hand and asked Imo people to vote for him after his speech, if that was what he meant.
The leaders also pointed to the statement by the National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, which made it clear that APC was not in alliance with any political party in the state, and wondered why anybody would pretend that the president said something different, even when he raised Uzodinma’s hand at the rally.
The action of the president received the commendation of Imo leaders, including former All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) chieftain, Chief Martins Agbaso, Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Dr. Fabian Ihekeme, Chairman of Imo APC, Chief Marcel Nlemigbo, and the Director General of Hope Uzodinma campaign organisation, Chief Cosmas Iwu.
While Chief Agbaso declared the president’s action as the final seal of approval for the aspiration of Uzodinma. . Ihekeme, who led 22 other political parties to endorse the APC candidate, said it was a sign of victory for APC.
They, however, described as mischievous and warped, the interpretation of the president’s charge to Imo electorate to vote across party line to imply that they could choose any other candidate outside Uzodinma.
“The president said across party line, which means down the line of APC, for APC candidate. After the president spoke, he presented Uzodinma to Imo people and asked them to vote for him. How can anybody interpret this action to mean that the president said Imo people can vote for any other candidate outside APC. What more did anybody expect from Mr. President,” they asked.
However, Dr. Ihekeme insisted that the call by Buhari was actually for those who are not of APC to vote across party lines, especially for Senator Uzodinma, whom he raised his hand.