By By FRED ITUA, Abuja
′South East, South South record scanty delegates
The maiden national convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC), held at the Eagles Square last Friday night in Abuja.
Like the typical large political gatherings in Nigeria, it commenced on a shaky note. The convention which was expected to have started at about 3.00pm did not commence until 9.00pm.
At about 3.00pm, many delegates, particularly those from the South East were yet to get their accreditation tags. Journalists were not spared from the apparent lack of preparedness by the organisers.
Many delegates from Ebonyi and Anambra states had accused their leaders of short-changing them. Some Ebonyi delegates accused the former chairman of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu of deliberately shutting them out, by withholding their accreditation tags.
Delegates from Anambra State also alleged that former governor of the state, Senator Chris Ngige deliberately refused to give them their tags. The delegates who converged on an unnamed apartment located on Emeka Anyaoku Street in Area 10, Garki, Abuja, almost resorted to exchange of blows over lack of coordination.
As at the time Abuja Metro left the venue at about 3pm, Ebonyi and Anambra delegates were yet to be given their accreditation tags.
Hotels, motels and apartments in the Abuja metropolis were fully-booked, as delegates from all parts of the country stormed the city. Motorists and other residents of the city were not spared from vibes of the convention. All major roads linking the venue of the convention were blocked.
Unlike previous conventions held at the same venue by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), security was more relaxed at the venue. Praise singers and other well-wishers of the state governors trooped to the venue.
Supporters of other chieftains of the party and contenders for positions literally took over the venue of the convention, with banners, placards and handbills of different inscriptions. If it were a contest, supporters of leaders from the north would have taken the prize.
Petty thieves, especially pickpockets were not left out of the convention. They had their stand at the venue of the Conference. One of our reporters accredited to cover the convention was robbed of his money while struggling to gain entry into the venue through the tiny gate reserved for ‘not-very important personalities’.
A member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa announced during the convention that a delegate’s wallet had been stolen. There were several other reports of items stolen at the convention. Sadly, none of the items were recovered for as long as the convention lasted.
Food vendors and street urchins also made brisk profits from sale of food items and other accessories to delegates. Suya, food and fruit sellers were given a large portion within the venue of the convention for their trade.
At the various stands of delegates who were apportioned their seats according to their states, it was not entirely glorious. Some seats were vacant, particularly seats of delegates from the South South and South East.
Except for states like Kwara and Nasarawa in the North Central region, slots reserved for other states in the geopolitical zone were not fully occupied. States from South West, North East and North Central had the highest attendants.
The party leaders were fully in attendance. Although the event did not start on time as expected, dignitaries of the party were on ground early and patiently waited until the event fully came into life.
The masters of ceremony of the event, Dino Melaye and Tony One Week did not disappoint the cheering delegates. While Melaye who speaks Yoruba and Hausa fluently entertained a section of the delegates in their languages, One Week thrilled the Igbo delegates who responded with enthusiasm.
The security operatives on ground did not disappoint. For the first time in a long while, they exhibited the highest level of decorum. Pushed against the wall by some delegates and supporters of the party, the security agents reacted with a high sense of civility.
At about 1.45am, the sky brought its showers, but not heavy to disrupt activities at the convention. The delegates and other party supporters appeared undaunted
The APC national convention in summary was a success. Many critics that had predicted that there would be hiccups before and during the convention as a result of the discordant voices from the ward, local and state congresses, were proved wrong. Like in every event, there were minor inadequacies, but the overall outing was not so bad.
With the election of the new helmsmen of the party, the stage has been set for the 2015 elections. Observers believe with the successful conclusion of the convention, 2015 campaigns for political offices have begun in earnest.