Abuja, the nation’s capital, is bubbling as thousands converge for the All Progressives Congress (APC), national convention slated for tomorrow. Already, the convention ground has been adorned with colourful decorations with watertight security.
No fewer than 7,000 delegates from the 36 states are expected for tomorrow’s august event, which has been long anticipated and delayed by several postponements.
Scores of heavily armed security operatives had been placed at various major roads linking the Abuja Eagle Square, the venue of the convention, in a bid to ensure that nothing unfortunate happens.
Major roads leading to the national secretariat of the party and Eagle Square have been littered with posters, billboards and fliers for candidates vying for various positions as the party prepares for convention.
At the Eagle Square, the venue of the event, our reporters observed work was going on in earnest as of Wednesday in the evening; while two big generating sets were being mounted to provide power for the event.
When our reporters visited some of the big hotels in Abuja under the pretense of booking for rooms, they could not find any as the receptionists turned down their request insisting that all the rooms had been occupied even five days away from the convention.
At one popular hotel in the central area of the city, some receptionists, who pleaded anonymity, confided to our reporters that all the 300 rooms in the hotel have been taken up for the delegates since Monday even though most of them would start arriving later in the week.
It was a busy sight at the national secretariat of APC on Blantyre Street Wuse II, Abuja, as dozens of party faithful could be seen going in and out whilst hundreds remained outside the premises as the security was tight around the vicinity.
Many traders were seen making brisk business around the secretariat while some food vendors were busy attending to customers. The street leading to the party secretariat was parked with a number of vehicles on both sides of the road.
Some top shots in the organising committee of the convention confided to Daily Trust that preparations were going on and all hands were on deck to make it a successful one.
They appealed to the party faithful to adhere strictly to the guidelines announced by various sub-committees to make the event hitch-free.
Traders anticipating brisk sales
Traders at Eagle Square car park, the venue of the convention, said they are anticipating making brisk business in the days leading up to the event.
Some of the traders, who spoke to our correspondents, expressed optimism that the convention would help them make bumper sales.
A food vendor, Mrs. Juliana Timothy, said that she had been selling since Monday night as many of the party supporters lodged around the venue.
She added that even though there were a number of food vendors around but she was anticipating high patronage.
She said the event presented a good opportunity for her and her colleagues to make some money in the face of the hard economic situation in the country.
“I thank God for today because we are selling very well because of the large number of people around.
“Even though there are many food vendors here, the market is still moving fine. So, I believe that we will make enough sales before the end of the convention.
“We are not selling it too expensive because we sell a plate for between N400 and N500 depending on what you eat.”
Another trader, Malam Abdullahi Shehu, who sells jewelry, clothing and shoes, said that he expected to make good sales during the event.
He said that the event would afford him the opportunity to sell, especially as a lot of party supporters would need to change their clothes or shoes.
In his words, “We know the party delegates are going to make money from here and we are here to get part of it by selling our goods to them.”
A vendor of APC caps, tags and hand bands, Alhaji Suleiman Aliyu, said he had sold over 30 units of the cap, more than 55 tags and other items.
According to him, many party members would want to carry some things that have the APC symbol and that is why he decided to produce the items.
For a Bolt driver, one Mukhtaru, he expected to make more money during the convention. He said the current fuel scarcity in the city would not be an impediment to his business.
“Demand for our services has significantly increased as most motorists spend service hours on the queues at different filling stations. The demand for us is high. Almost one can work 24/7 ferrying pssengers.
“Quite sure everybody knows that APC is holding a big event in the city as people from different parts of the country are trooping into Abuja. When a ruling party is holding its convention, business is usually brisk as money and people are plenty.
Fabrics seller at the Eagle Square car park, Alkassim Abdullahi Abubakar said he expects to make so much sales on the convention day when the delegates and others stormed the venue.
He said, “Partially, we are making brisk sales but we hope that it could be more than that, especially tomorrow when the crowd converges. You know, when people come together, it is a blessing; so, we anticipate to see improvements especially if the leaders give them inducement we would grasp something out of it. Once the delegates have not been well settled, there won’t be anything to make from them,’’ he said.
A member of the welfare and entertainment committee, one Fatimou Ronke Moustafa who came to Abuja on Tuesday from Oyo said all her wish is that the convention is held tomorrow as they were longing for it after several postponements, saying that preparations have been started since Sunday and are on top gear as everything is set.
She prayed that the event be held peacefully.
An APC supporter, Mr. Taiwo Joseph, said he came from Lagos State on Tuesday to support the party and expressed confidence that the convention would bring about stability in the party.
Joseph said he had been eating from the food vendors, adding that the foods were not too expensive contrary to what he expected.
Also speaking to our correspondents, a resident of Wuse II and a partisan, Mr. Vincent Uchenna, said he was expecting a peaceful event before, during and after the convention.
He said conventions are held by leading political parties of APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) almost every year to select leaders but there is nothing to show for it as the country “is still suffering from bad leadership’’.
Speaking with Daily Trust, the Director of Information at the APC national secretariat, Alhaji Salisu Na’inna Dambatta, said arrangements have almost been completed for a hitch-free convention.
He said all the sub-committees for the convention were working hard to ensure they finished their job on time.
Police deploy over 1,000 officers
Speaking on Thursday, the police authority in the Federal Capital Territory Command, Abuja, said it was ready for any law breaker, stressing that its officers would not allow hoodlums, political thugs and other law breakers to have their way in the capital city.
In a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, the spokesperson for the Command, Josephine Adeh, disclosed that no fewer than 1,815 personnel have been deployed in order to prevent any unforeseen circumstance.
“We’ve made our deployment. We have deployed enough security, they will be there monitoring and observing, so that there won’t be a breakdown of law and order on Saturday,” she said
Adeh called on political gladiators to play their games according to the dictates of law of the land and endeavour not to infringe upon other citizens’ rights.
She added, “We expect all the political actors to act accordingly, do their convention without breakdown of law or infringing upon other citizens’ rights. So, we shall be monitoring everything, and providing security. We have deployed our men to many strategic locations.
“We have deployed about 1,815 police officers including tactical and intelligence officers in case of unforeseen circumstances, we are ready for them (troublemakers). We’ve been doing it, and we hope it will be peaceful.”