By Sodiq Lawal
Tuesday, 4th September, 2018 was a day to remember in Ile Ife, State of Osun as it was the day the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) held its mega rally at Technical College, Ifewara, in order to garner support for its candidate, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola in the September 22 governorship election in the state.
Men and women as well as residents of Ile Ife, in their large numbers staged a mass rally in support of the governorship candidate.
The groups who stormed the major roads leading to the Ooni’s Palace, were seen carrying various placards with inscriptions such as “Ilerioluwa for 2018, “ among others.
They were seen marching from Lagere roads down to Iremo to Technical College, Ifewara singing solidarity songs to rally support for Oyetola.
Even though everything was set for the mega rally that heralded the beginning of the campaign, the large turnout of supporters mainly from the ruling APC and other well wishers at the homestead of Oyetola’s main challenger from Social Democratic Party (SDP), Senator Iyiola Omisore left no one doubt about the immense popularity of Oyetola.
There were sea of heads, mostly APC supporters in and outside Ile Ife at the Government Technical College, venue of the event, waiting in solidarity to welcome Governor Rauf Aregbesola and Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola to the ancient city.
Oyetola, who with his running mate, Benedict Olugboyega Alabi, the governor of the state, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, deputy governor, Otunba Titilayo Laoye-Tomori, Mrs Sherifat Aregbesola, the wife of the governor, APC chairman, Gboyega Famodun, Senators, honourables and other party leaders kicked off mega rally with a visit to the Ooni’s palace for Royal Blessings.
Many of them, who came in groups, had waited for hours before the governor and his campaign train eventually arrived around 5:30pm.
The crowd was so huge that the governor’s convoy found it difficult to move into the enclosure where Aregbesola was to climb a podium and address the people.
The security, comprising of the policemen of the Department of State Security, the Nigeria Security and Defence Corps and the Federal Road Safety Corps had a hectic time controlling the crowd and vehicular movement.
Scores of traders expressed optimism that if the candidate emerges, he will develop the economy of the state.
Traders took advantage of the mega rally to display their wares while food vendors, souvenir sellers, photographers among others, made brisk business.
A head of market women at Oja Titun in Ile Ife, Mrs Roshidat Amoo, told our correspondent that the mega rally helped traders as passersby trooped to various shops to buy goods.
“I am not an APC member but am very sure if Oyetola emerges, our economy will be back to normal,” she said.
Aregbesola who addressed the mammoth crowd of party leaders, members and supporters, quoted the Bible and the Quran, and advised voters not to be intimidated, assuring that security would be reinforced on the election day to ensure that the electorate cast their votes in a peaceful atmosphere.
He said: “We are here today for two reasons – to seek Ooni’s blessings and seek the votes of Ife people.
“Ooni has blessed us. He pointed out that today, Tuesday signifies victory, meaning Oyetola will record victory. God is with us. He has given us the wisdom and strength to take Osun to the promised land.
“On the Election Day, Osun people will decide whether they want Osun to progress or regress. I know we will also vote for the progress of the state by way of continuity. So, use your voting power to elect Oyetola. 127,000 party members decided in his favour during the primary in July. It’s our responsibility to elect him as our candidate.
“We won’t fight with anyone but whoever attacks us will be in trouble. Let our women troop out in large number and perform their obligation. Never be intimidated. Security will be reinforced. God and the people are with us.
“Oyetola will build on the foundation we have laid. He will lead well. We have established it in 2014 that we are solidly on ground.
“Tell those who defected to return quickly because their spaces are still open. We always flag off our campaign in Ile-Ife, and on Tuesday. We have done that and received Ooni’s blessings. Oyetola is competent to sustain APC legacy. We are confident that he will surpass our achievements in the development of Osun State. He is much more reserved. He will definitely advance the fortune of our party. He will be a worthy successor.”
Apart from the party’s candidate, on the campaign train were the State Chairman of the party, Chief Gboyega Famoodun, Aregbesola’s s deputy, Mrs Titilayo Laoye-Tomori, and many others.
With king of Fuji music, Wasiu Ayinde, dishing thrilling tunes from the band stand, crowd, defying the occasional showers, gyrated in ecstasy all through the period.
The leaders took turns to address the crowd, highlighting the achievements of the APC administration. They urged them to vote for Oyetola for sustenance of the good works and stability of governance. The achievements highlighted include rebuilding of schools, construction of quality roads, free healthcare, security and urban renewal.
They urged their voters to shun violence and argument with opposition parties but cast their votes for the APC on September 22.