Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau has described Saturday’s mammoth crowd at inauguration of the re-election bid of President Muhammadu Buhari as an automatic endorsement of his candidature by people of the state.
Buhari, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), was in Jos on Saturday in continuation of his nationwide campaign for the Feb. 16 general elections.
The Rwang Pam Township Stadium, venue of the event, was jam-packed by ecstatic party supporters, who kept hailing the man they love and admire so much.
So much was the surge that the President could not eventually address the crowd.
After waiting for about an hour, he waved at the appreciative gathering and left for Abuja.
Gov. Lalong, who fielded questions from State House correspondents in Jos, said Saturday’s massive turn-out of Plateau people to welcome the president was not a surprise as similar incident was recorded in 2011 and 2014 when he (Buhari) visited the state to campaign.
“Well, I think this is unique to Plateau. In 2011, when he came (to Plateau) he couldn’t even come down. So he had to leave that way, he just greeted the crowd and left.
“In 2014 when he came we were able to manage the crowd for him to address them but before he got out of the stadium it was terrible for us.
“So, for Saturday’s rally we tried to manage the crowd, we did all we could but the crowd was too much and you saw it yourselves, this was not a hired crowd.
“This was a mammoth crowd that loves Mr President, natural love for Mr President. We did our best to manage the crowd but it was overwhelming.’’
The governor added that though the president could not speak to the crowd he was satisfied with the outcome of the rally.
“In other words, the crowd can also say we don’t need anything. We have confidence, Mr President, go and finish your second term.
“I’m very well satisfied with the outcome of the rally because this is a way of our people saying Mr President even without addressing us we have confidence in you,’’ he said.
Buhari had on Saturday at the rally received some political heavyweights who defected from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The PDP bigwigs, who defected to the APC, included Sen. Victor Lar, Awalu Dankurma, Sen. Sati Gogwum, Hon Jacob Kassem, Barr. Simon Barry, Burki Ayuba Gufwan, and Wokduna Kanam.
There were also other politicians, who defected to the APC from other parties.
Buhari had in a statement on Saturday by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, lauded Plateau people for turning out in their thousands to welcome him into Jos, lining the roads right from the airport, defying the raging sun.
He also thanked them for their steadfastness over the years, and for continued faith in the administration.