Security personnel, including soldiers and anti-riot policemen, on Thursday averted what was potentially an ugly situation as supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), mostly the youths, pelted the motorcade of President Goodluck Jonathan with stones and sachet water in Bauchi State.
There was palpable tension as the president’s convoy heading to the Bauchi Emir’s palace drove past the Nasarawa area road, where some supporters of Buhari, brandishing brooms, welcomed the president with chants of ‘Sai Buhari’ even as some could be heard calling President Jonathan ‘arna’ (in Hausa meaning an unbeliever).
With the president in the Motorcade were Vice-President Namadi Sambo, the National Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu; Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed; Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State, ministers, other top chieftains of the PDP among others.
Also, along Ran road, some irate youths chanting ‘Sai Buhari’, disrupted business activities as shop owners in the area had to hurriedly lock their business premises for fear of the unknown.
At the venue of the event, Ibrahim Babangida Square, Bauchi, the youths who had, before the arrival of President Jonathan and his entourage, chanted solidarity songs for the president and the PDP, marched round the venue with their drums and placards with the president’s picture, became wild during the programme, pelting dignitaries at the stand with stones.
Security operatives had a tough time dispersing the political thugs who came out in their numbers.
Six operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) were hospitalised following injuries they sustained from the attack.
Addressing the crowd of supporters at the PDP presidential campaign rally at the venue, President Jonathan vowed that no retrogressive forces can push the party behind in its effort to develop the northern Nigeria.
The president who spoke in an emotion-laden voice accused the opposition party of allegedly instigating the electorate in the country against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led government.
He challenged the APC to state its achievements rather than looking for cheap popularity.
He stressed that the PDP stood for peace, assuring that the present administration, if re-elected, will develop the country particularly the northern states by educating and empowering youths and women.
Jonathan cautioned the youths against acts of violence during and after the election, saying if re-elected, he will invest in youths’ empowerment projects through micro, small scale enterprise, agriculture and education.
According to him, “Since oil price is dwindling, we would embark on the excavation of the abundant solid minerals in the state so that indigenes of the state will be employed. If re-elected, I will ensure that I work with the governorship candidate to bring the dividend of democracy to the state.”
While also assuring that his administration will utilise the abundant mineral resources scattered all over state to improve the revenue generation of the state, the president said: “Bauchi has a lot of solid mineral and other potentials, so we will work with the state to exploit them maximally for the people and the benefit of Nigeria.
He however warned people of the state never to allow themselves be used by selfish individuals who want to instigate them against others, saying the late Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, never incited anybody against others.
Jonathan said: “We meant well for Nigeria. Balewa was our great leader that led this country well and he was appreciated from North to South, West to East and he never instigated Nigerians against each other.”
Jonathan also explained that the federal government succeeded in eradicating polio in the state despite the fact that some people doubted the capabilities of the government, saying: “When I came on board in 2010, we promised to eradicate polio.
“Some people used all kind of sentiment against us but we insisted, and by 2013, we eradicated polio from state and by the end of this year, we will eradicate polio from the whole country.”
In his remarks, the Vice-President, Namadi Sambo, cautioned politicians using religion and ethnicity to divide Nigerians to desist forthwith, stressing that he had no hatred whatsoever towards northerners, contrary to the falsehood being peddled by some politicians in the North.
“These politicians trying to use religion and ethnicity to divide Nigerians must stop. People are fabricating falsehood that Jonathan is discriminating against the North. I believe in equity and I don’t cheat people, I always ensure that projects are distributed equally across the country, “ he said.
He urged the people to ensure that they collect their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) to enable them participate in the election, advising: “You must ensure that you collect your voters’ card because without it, you cannot exercise your franchise in the coming election.”
In his address, the Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum and Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, stated that Jonathan’s administration was working tirelessly to end security challenges in the northern region.
He called on the people to vote for all PDP electoral positions from the presidential candidate to state House of Assembly candidate in the elections.
“Our government is working to ensure security of lives so that people can move around, doing their business without any fear, so you have to vote for President Jonathan to complete the good work he started in Nigeria,” he said.
The FCT Minister, Mohammed who was stoned with sachet water while making his speech, pleaded with the people of the state to vote for Jonathan and the PDP in the next month’s general elections.
Mohammed called on the President and other dignitaries to ignore what was happening, alleging that it was the handiwork of the opposition even as he called on them to be calm.