In what could be described as a last ditch effort at saving their blushes from a resounding rejection by the citizens of Cross River State, the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday had to rent a crowd from neighboring Akwa Ibom and Ebonyi States.
At exactly 3:54pm, when the Buhari campaign train birthed at the U. J. Esuene Stadium, venue of the campaign rally, the 15,000 seats stadium was still empty of party supporters.
Apparently sensing embarrassment, the event had had to be delayed pending the arrival of crowd believed to have been smuggled into the state from Akwa Ibom and Ebonyi States which later arrived in chartered buses numbering about 50 with inscriptions: “Onitsha South Transport”.
An APC source later disclosed that the rented crowd was expected to have assembled in the state, a day before Mr. Buhari and his entourage arrived.
On why the party had to resort to hiring crowds, the source revealed that the reason was no other than the obvious bruised sensibility occasioned by the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Walter Onnoghen by President Buhari.
According the source, “In order not to take chances, the campaign council, with the support of former governor Godswill Akpabio agreed that there was need to rent crowds from Akwa Ibom and Ebonyi States.”
Continuing, the APC source who insisted on anonymity hinted: “Even though the decision came at a huge cost, it was the best in the circumstance as we had anticipated that Mr president and his campaign train would not be welcome and embraced by Cross Riverians on account of the CJN saga.
So it was necessary save him (Buhari) the humiliation of a rejection.”
It was revealed that a similar crowd was to be smuggled in from Rivers State, but the fear of Governor Wike exposing the plan was said to have halted the arrangement.
“What we ended up with was no more than the end justifying the means. It would have been the worst campaign rally for the party and Mr President to have come and met an empty stadium.”