BY RAPHAEL ONYEKACHUKWU, OWERRI – Unprecedented crowd took over the major streets of Owerri on Tuesday July 4, 2017, as the three-million-man march solidarity rally organised by Imo people from various interest groups for President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Rochas Okorocha brought the state capital to a standstill.
The solidarity rally was initially scheduled for Monday, July 3, 2017 to counter the planned One-Million-March anti-government rally that was purportedly organized by a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Kelechi Nwagwu.
Governor Okorocha had directed the organizers of the pro-government three-million-man March to shift their own rally to Tuesday in a bid to avert any clash between organizers of both rallies. The governor even appealed to the police to grant the anti-government rally the permission. Unfortunately, according to an insider, when Monday came, organizers of the anti-government rally faltered, as the rally turned out a fluke.
The pro-government rally that took place Tuesday literarily shut down Owerri, the State Capital. When the pro-government rally arrived the Government House, the Co-ordinator of march, Comrade Jeff Nwaoha, told the governor that they had organized the rally in appreciation of the President’s achievements, especially on the relentless war against corruption and Okorocha’s monumental achievements in developing the state.
He argued that the Imo people have never had it so good before now, insisting that the achievements of Okorocha in the last six years have surpassed the achievements of all those who governed the State before him put together.
According to him, “If you can recall Your Excellency, few months ago, when ordinarily a governor would have given directives to slaughter and kill the militants and agitators in the Niger-Delta region of the state, in your normal wisdom, you decided to grant people from Ohaji/Egbema & Oguta amnesty and saved them from total annihilation. We have also come to say thank you”.
Responding to the crowd that turned up at the Government House, Governor Okorocha said, “Today you have shown me that I am really the Senior Advocate of the masses and the Civilian General of the people. Thousands and thousands of people coming all over the state to show solidarity at your own time and cost and to shame our detractors who could not bring out one person for their one-million-man march against me, I shall never fail you my people”.
The groups and associations that participated in the rally, included Imo Progress Movement (IPM), Imo State Council of Youths (ISCY), Youths Assembly of Nigeria (YAN), Nigeria Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTN), Imo State Amalgamated Traders Association (ISAMATA), National Union of Imo State Students (NUISS), Niger Delta Youths (NDY), Imo Pilots (IP), among others.