The All Progressives Congress in Ebonyi State says the Pa Oruta Ngele Stadium Abakaliki remains the official venue for its mega rally on Saturday.
The Chairman of APC in the state, Chief Eze Nwachukwu, made this known at a press briefing on Friday in Abakaliki, in reaction to media reports that the state government has denied the party access to the stadium.
The Chief Press Secretary to Governor Dave Umahi, Emma Uzor, on Thursday while hosting members of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria said the stadium would not be used by APC for its rally due to ongoing renovation works.
Governor Umahi rested the same position on Friday.
Umahi’s Special Adviser on Security, Kenneth Ugbala, said the stadium will be used for training members of the state’s neighbourhood watch on Friday (yesterday) and Saturday (today).
But Nwachukwu said that neither Umahi nor his privies can stop the APC from using the stadium for its rally.
He explained that the party applied for the use of the stadium following all the laid down procedures.
He said: “We officially applied for the stadium in line with laid down rules and clearance was given to the party to use the stadium for our mega rally holding on Saturday.
“For anybody to wake up and say that the venue is no longer available for the party to use, to us in APC is huge joke and we regard it as rumour.
“But if the report is correct and actually coming from the state government, all I will say is that no man can stop the rally from holding in the Abakaliki township stadium.
“The stadium was built and renovated with tax prayers’ money and owned by Ebonyi people irrespective of party affiliations.
“I want to urge the teeming party members and supporters to discountenance the said report as venue for our rally remains the Abakaliki stadium.”
Another chieftain of the party, Chief Egwu Chima, said the report was a ploy to undermine the APC in Ebonyi State.
Chima told the News Agency of Nigeria that the statement was borne out of fear of the rising popularity of APC and desperation to emasculate the party.
According to him, the mega rally was aimed at receiving high profile defectors from the Peoples Democratic Party, including senators, adding that the PDP was jittery.
He said: “The Governor, Chief Dave Umahi, knows that allowing APC to use the stadium for the mega rally, where many members of his party are expected to announce their defection to APC, amounts to committing political suicide.
“Though the stadium is a public facility, it is under the watch and control of the governor and he will not allow it to be used by a party that has repositioned to take over power from him.”
Chima, who noted that he predicted the development, however urged the state governor not to engage in actions that could generate political tension in the state.
He said: “I want to urge the governor to shun acts capable of plunging the state into needless political crisis as the 2019 elections draw closer.
“The actions and utterances of key political actors can make or mar smooth and credible elections and electioneering activities in Ebonyi.”