The outgoing Governor of Imo state and embattled All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for Imo West senatorial zone, in the February 16, 2019 National Assembly general election, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, yesterday, Monday February 4, 2019, flagged-off his campaign rally amidst massive, purported hired crowd of various security guards, civil servants with scanty presence of the irked and embittered electorate of Orlu zone.
The campaign rally which took place at the poorly constructed road side new Orlu Sports Stadium, which was hurriedly painted featured mainly party loyalists of Chief Uche Nwosu, and Action Alliance but very scanty presence of loyalists of the All Progressives Congress, who were conspicuously absent or displayed deep apathy to the rally, expected to be a mega state rally.
A large number of the ordinary people mainly the electorate went about their normal business with members of the nearby Timber and Allied Traders Market Traders Association, who defied government’s order to force them close shops for the rally, hence shunned the event.
Our reporter who covered the rally said that the whole venue was populated by men in various security outfit including men of the Imo Community Watch, who were mobilized from the 27 local government areas on the orders of their Commander General, and Executive Chairman of Okigwe LGA, Pastor Frank Onwumere, while their colleagues in the Imo Civil Guards, had to obey orders from their leader, Sir Ejifugha to ensure they were present at the occasion, so it can have a semblance of a mammoth crowd.
A source close to the campaign organization for the rally said that millions of Naira were doled to Government Liaison Officers of the various Community Government Councils to mobilize their councilors as well as Action Alliance loyalists, to attend the rally with assurance of their transport fares to and fro and lunch.
In order to create the impression of massive support and turn out of personalities, Ugonna Ozurigbo (OZB) and others were mobilized to convey willing crowds to the stadium, whereas in Ogboko, Chief Pascal Obi did a good job of hiring crowd to show presence at the rally, most especially supporters of the Action Alliance.
It was observed that the same crowd that followed Uche Nwosu to the Owerri stadium rally were the same that surfaced at the Orlu township stadium on Monday. However, all those whose homes were demolished and others whose properties were appropriated by the Governor, exhibited non-challante attitude to the show of infamy, as the rally was bereft of APC supporters indicating that the popularity of Governor Okorocha in Orlu has been nose-diving downwards, unlike the 2011 and 2015 elections, when his popularity was its peak.
By absenting themselves from the rally, APC members in Orlu zone, may have accepted the instructions of President Muhammadu Buhari, who earlier warned against voting for Governors who collected bailout funds but could not pay pensions and gratuities before his latest directions, that APC members in Orlu zone should feel free to vote across party lines.