The presidential campaign rally of the All Progressives Congress in Bauchi State was brought to an abrupt end by power outage on Monday.
The rally was going on at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium, Bauchi, when the power supply ceased and the sound system went off and could not be restored.
Our correspondent observed that the event commenced at 11.50am.
However, there was an outage when the Chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum, Atiku Bagudu, was making his speech at 12.20pm.
Shortly after, the electricity supply was restored and Bagudu came back to conclude his remarks.
But at exactly 1.10pm, the power supply again went off shortly after the APC National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, mounted the podium and began addressing the party supporters.
On the podium with the national chairman were the APC standard bearer, Bola Tinubu; his running mate, Kashim Shettima and his wife Nana, while Buhari, who was sitting at the VIP (Very important persons’) section of the stadium, waited for electricity to be restored.
While Adamu, Tinubu, Shettima and others were on the podium, the power was restored again before it went off for the third time and all efforts to resolve it failed.
Also, the party’s standard bearer could not address the mammoth crowd at the rally, following the departure of the President.
Buhari had arrived in Bauchi to lead the APC presidential and governorship campaign rally.
The aircraft conveying the President touched down at the Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Airport, Bauchi around 10:20 am.
He was received by the Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, who is the Peoples Democratic Party candidate and his opponent in the March 11 governorship election, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar (retd.).
Others, who were at the airport to receive the President include the APC chairman, Adamu; the Director-General of the APC Presidential Campaign Council and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong; Senate President Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; former Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abdulrahman Danbazzau (retd.); Andy Ubah, Governors of Borno, Kebbi and Yobe states, Babagana Zulum, Abubakar Bagudu and Mai Mala Buni, respectively.
From the airport, Buhari proceeded to the palace of the Emir of Bauchi, Dr Rilwanu Adamu, for a courtesy visit and thereafter headed to the campaign venue.
Buhari was to officially present the APC candidates to the Bauchi electorate at the rally, from where he would depart for Lagos on a two-day working visit.
But after waiting in vain for power to be restored, the president marched to the podium and raised Tinubu, Shettima and the Bauchi State governorship candidate, Sadique Abubakar’s hands as a sign of endorsement.
He also went round the podium to show Tinubu and his running mate to the thousands of supporters who were becoming restless.
While that was going on, the technical team was running up and down trying to fix the outage but they could not.
Buhari, who subsequently left the stadium without delivering any speech, waved to the crowd as he headed toward his vehicle.
The rally ended shortly after the President’s departure.
Other party chieftains who spoke at the event before the outage include the state Chairman of the APC, Musa Babayo; the state governorship candidate; the Chairman of the APC Presidential Campaign Council and Plateau state Governor, Simon Lalong; the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Amb. Maryam Katagum; a former Bauchi state governor, Isa Yuguda;
However, thousands of party supporters who had gathered to show their solidarity and catch a glimpse at the president left in anger, confusion and disappointment.
Our correspondent also observed that some youths vandalized and took away some of the iron barricades used for crowd control at the stadium.
Efforts to find out the cause of the power failure were unsuccessful as the state party chairman, Babayo Misau and other campaign council members, could not be reached on the phone.
But commenting on the incident, a member of the State Working Committee who spoke in confidence, explained that the event was organised by the national secretariat of the party.
He said, “With this rally, we are telling the State Governor, Bala Mohammed, that we will defeat him in the gubernatorial election. They came with the media and technical people from Abuja but unfortunately, this thing happened that the President couldn’t speak. They planned and brought everything from Abuja.”
Asked if they would organise another rally, he said: “How can we hold another rally? It is not possible. Our desire has been fulfilled since the President came and raised the hands of our candidates; he greeted the people and he saw them and they saw him, we don’t have any problem or any cause for worry.”
On whether they suspected any sabotage, he said: “You cannot immediately blame anybody for such a thing that happened, but we’ll investigate to unravel exactly what happened.”
However, a source disclosed that a power surge from the generator affected the connection to the sound system and resulted in the destruction of some cables.
“The stadium has been without electricity from Jos Electricity Distribution because of some outstanding bills. So, it was the generator at the stadium that was in use. What happened was that there was a power surge from the generator that was in use and this affected the connection of the sound system. Later, they tried to fix it and some of the cables got burned.’’
When one of our correspondents contacted the Media Assistant to the sports minister, Toyin Ibitoye, over the alleged owed electricity bills by the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium, which is owned by the Federal Government, he said he was not aware of the bills.
“I don’t have an idea about the stadium owning the PHCN (JED).”
The Bauchi State Chairman of the Labour Party, Hussaini Saraki, described the incident as an act of God.
Earlier, a mammoth crowd of party supporters and other residents thronged the streets of Bauchi to receive the President and the APC presidential candidate.
A statement from the Tinubu Media Office signed by Abdulaziz Abdulaziz , said the APC standard bearer, who spent the night at the state capital, joined the party bigwigs to receive Buhari at the airport.
It explained that both Buhari and Tinubu could not address the rally due to an electrical glitch encountered mid-way into the programme, adding that the presence of the two leaders electrified the elated crowd which danced to campaign songs.
Addressing the rally, the President of the Senate hailed the President for discharging himself creditably and making the party proud.
He said the turnout indicated the appreciation of the North-East to the Buhari regime for liberating them from the menace of Boko Haram, in addition to other benefits brought to the people.
Kebbi State Governor, Senator Bagudu, who spoke on behalf of APC governors, expressed appreciation to the President for “many people-centered policies which enriched poor farmers and aided the poor and vulnerable.’’
He said APC governors were solidly behind the APC candidate in line with the directive of the President for all party members to ensure the victory of “his friend and partner, Asiwaju Tinubu.”
Bagudu urged the people of Bauchi State to replicate the support they have always accorded to Buhari to enable Tinubu to win the February 25 election.
In his prepared speech which he could not read at the rally, Tinubu promised to consolidate on the recent gains to foster prosperity across the country.
He stated, “Mr. President, you have shown them that our party is a party of thinkers and doers; people who can find a way where there is none. We thank you for that.
“And it is this spirit of finding a way in the middle of nowhere, of drawing water from dried wells that we seek to consolidate when we succeed in getting the mandate of Nigerians.
“At a time of dwindling revenues and global economic crises, we need to explore all available resources that could help resolve our development challenges. It is for this reason that projects like Kolmani and AKK gas pipeline started by the Buhari administration will be accelerated under my leadership.
“We will create wealth through value addition across all the major planks of our economy. We will make farming profitable and support agro-allied industries that will help us process what we produce, instead of just selling raw produce. We will bring forth prosperity, Insha Allah!”
The ex-Lagos state governor also promised to prioritize security in order to engender the right environment for business to thrive.
The party asked the Bauchi State governor to prepare his handover notes, noting its candidate would win the election.
The APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yakubu Ajaka, in a statement on Monday stated that the massive turnout of the residents to show support for Tinubu “is a verdict on the maladministration of the PDP in Bauchi state which people are yearning for urgent change.”
APC promises probe
Meanwhile, the APC has said it would investigate the cause of the faulty sound system, which it blamed for the disruption of its presidential campaign rally in Bauchi.
The party’s Director of Publicity, Bala Ibrahim, disclosed this in a telephone conversation with our correspondent.
Speaking with The PUNCH, Ibrahim said it would be wrong to attribute the incident to sabotage, adding however that the picture would become clearer at the end of the investigation.
“I can’t confirm what truly happened. The engineer will be able to tell what really happened even though from the onset, when I saw wire microphones, I had a little reservation.
“Under normal circumstances, we should have used wireless microphones. I am not a technician so I can’t allude to anything. Investigations would reveal what truly happened,” Ibrahim said.
Narrating the incident, the Director of Publicity said, “There was a sound breach, the equipment failed, and the audio quality was bad, but that is not to say the scheduled appointment of Mr. President was abruptly interrupted.
‘’The President was called upon to come to the podium and as he was getting there; the chairman of the party was addressing the rally, then, the sound system went off.
“People couldn’t hear him but all the same, the chairman called on the public to vote for the APC and the presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu climbed to the podium.’’
‘’The President raised his hand and called on the people of Bauchi to massively vote for Tinubu and (retired) Air Marshal Saddique Abubakar as the governorship candidate and all APC candidates standing for elections.
“The President had another schedule for Lagos and so he left. He is a man who is punctual, who wants to keep to time and just because there was a sound breach does not mean he should delay his departure for Lagos,” he said.
Despite the incident, Ibrahim said the event was a huge success even as he ruled out a repeat of the rally.
Applauding the turnout, he stated, “Bauchi has not had that kind of gathering in recent times. It was a boisterous reception. It was ovation upon ovation, accolades upon accolades and the people were shouting ‘Bauchi is for Buhari and Buhari is for Bauchi’ and the President called on the people of Bauchi to replicate the reception and the votes they gave him to Tinubu and all other candidates of the party.’’
On whether the party would consider a repeat of the rally, Ibrahim laughed off the suggestion saying, “Are you kidding me? The rally was a huge success and the message of our party and the candidate was well received.”
But the Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party in Bauchi State, Yayanuwa Zainabari, in a reaction said that the incident showed that APC was not organised.
He said: “Although this is their problem not ours, it goes to show that the APC was not prepared the way it ought to.
“Even if they brought in people from other states, they themselves know that they brought in people from Yobe, Gombe among others. But we know that this is an issue that affect them and we know that the people of Bauchi State will not vote for the APC because the people of Bauchi have seen what their governor is doing.”
Buhari on achievements
Meanwhile, President Monday in Bauchi restated that he had served Nigeria and Nigerians to the best of his ability, declaring that he had not disappointed anyone.
Buhari, who was in Bauchi in continuation of the APC presidential and governorship rallies, spoke during his courtesy call on the Emir of Bauchi, His Royal Highness (Dr) Rilwanu Suleiman Adamu.
According to a statement by the President’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, the President acknowledged the warm reception accorded him and the continued show of love by Nigerians, noting that the huge crowd that welcomed him wherever he went, was a demonstration of genuine love and loyalty.
“I normally call on Emirs and Chiefs, whether on political or personal tours to States to show my gratitude.
“I like to mention that between 2003 and 2011, I visited all the local governments, and in 2019, when I was seeking my re-election for a second term, I visited all the States of the Federation and the people that turned out to see me were more than what anyone could buy or force and there, I made a promise and pledge that I will serve Nigeria and Nigerians to the best of my ability and so far, I have not disappointed anybody,” he stated.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Emir of Bauchi, remarked that it is delightful when political leaders in modern state system honour the traditional institutions with a courtesy call.