All eyes are fixated on the main opposition party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, as it holds its national convention between today and tomorrow in Lagos to elect its presidential candidate for the February 14, 2015 election.
Five political juggernauts are jostling to pick the opposition party’s presidential ticket.
They are: former Head of State, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari; former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; Kano and Imo states governors, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and Owelle Rochas Okorocha respectively and a newspaper publisher, Sam Nda-Isaiah.
Political analysts were not ready yesterday to predict who wins but one of the northern candidates – Buhari, Atiku and Kwankwaso – is expected to emerge.
Buhari has aspired for the office thrice in 2003, 2007 and 2011 on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria peoples Party, ANPP, and Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, which are part of the legacy parties that became APC.
In all three previous attempts, he had emerged first runner up to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.
Former Vice President Abubakar is also not new to the race as he contested for the presidency in 2007 under the platform of then Action Congress, AC. He also contested for the PDP ticket with Jonathan, in 2011.
Also, Okorocha has been in the race for the Presidency, traversing different political parties including PDP, the defunct All Peoples Party, APP, Action Alliance, AA, APGA and now APC.
Winner of the APC primaries is expected to slug it out with incumbent President Jonathan, who is the sole presidential candidate of the ruling PDP in the February 14, 2015 presidential election.
Abubakar, speaking through the director-general of his campaign organisation, Prof Babalola Borisade, expressed optimism that he will emerge the preferred choice of the delegates, pledging that he will however remain in the party to support the eventual winner if he fails to pick the ticket.
About 8,000 delegates will vote, consisting of all members of its Board of Trustees, BoT; all members of the National executive Committee, NEC; service and past presidents and vice presidents, who are party members; serving and past governors and deputy governors who are party members; serving and past members of the National Assembly who are party members make up the delegates, in line with provisions of Article 12 (1) of the party’s constitution
Others are serving and past Speakers, deputy speakers and other principal officers of state Houses of Assemblies who are party members, members of the party’s states working committees, SWCs, including the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, of the party; all chairmen and secretaries of the party at the local government council and local development council areas, LCDAs, in the country; all elected chairmen of local government areas and LCDAs in the country who are members of the party and three elected delegates, at least of which one must be a woman, from each local government areas and LCDAs in the country.
APC National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, said that delegates were expected to start arriving Lagos yesterday, while accreditation is to commence today.
He said that “delegates from the six geo-political zones are to report for accreditation at the designated centres from 7 am today, before moving to the venue of the convention at Teslim Balogun Stadium.”
The epoch-making event will signal whether the opposition party is actually ready to do battle with the PDP, for the nation’s Presidency come 2015, as it is the first time the opposition party will put to test its internal democracy mechanism.
Explaining the choice of Lagos as host, APC National Convention Committee Chairman and former Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, said this was due to the fact that a proposed date for an Abuja event clashed with the PDP’s convention date.
According to him, “We originally wanted to hold our national convention in Abuja because naturally Abuja is the place to hold an event of this nature.
“However, we had identified a date to hold the party convention in Abuja and due to some exigencies we had to change that date. It so happened that the new date we choose now coincides with the date the PDP also choose for its national convention.
“Understandably, the Eagles Square that we wanted to book had been booked for the day. But it was not just because of that day but because of the nature of this event. As you know, anywhere our President is going to appear, upwards of three to four days before then, given the security situation, the venue is taken over by the security agencies. We then looked at other options.”
Fayemi added that “only Lagos successfully met all the factors that are considered to be critical to the success” of APC’s convention.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Police Command said yesterday that it had deployed enough policemen to provide adequate security during the convention.
The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, also said it that had deployed its officers to assist in providing security during the event.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, said: “We have enough men on ground who are adequately kitted for the primaries.
“We know the responsibility for the process to be credible is rested on us and we are aware of it.
“We are willing, as usual, to discharge that responsibility to the best of our ability just like we have been doing in all other elections.
“We know tomorrow’s election will be a bigger one and we expect more people to come into the state.”
He added that a number of police personnel had been deployed for the exercise.
“The Commissioner of Police, Mr Kayode Aderanti, was around yesterday to see things for himself and he will be moving around today to monitor the situation again.
“Arrangements have been put in place like traffic control, security, surveillance, sniffer dogs and every other thing needed to ensure a hitch-free convention.
“We are deploying our full arsenal to make sure that the election is credible,” he said.
Also, Mr. Chibuzo Mefor, Public Relations Officer, Lagos State Command of NSCDC, said the corps had deployed 500 officers to collaborate with the police to provide security.
He said the officers were already on ground from Tuesday and would keep vigil at the venue ahead of the convention.
In the same vein, the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, said it would deploy over 100 officers and 15 patrol vehicles for the convention.
The Lagos Sector Commander of the corps, Mr. Hyginus Omeje, said that arrangement had been put in place to ensure free-flow of vehicular movement in the state.
“Regarding the convention that is coming tomorrow (today), we have noted the venue where the convention is going to take place.
“We have identified the critical traffic bottlenecks, especially the junctions that link those areas. Ours is to ensure free-flow of traffic within those axes.
“But we will not allow Lagosians to be trapped in traffic because of any convention.
“For the locations we have mapped out, we will deploy more than 100 officers to them.
“And we are going to deploy nothing less than 15 vehicles, including our tow trucks,” he said.
The FRSC boss said that the command would, however, not move close to the venue for fear of being labeled partisan.
Source: National Mirror