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Teslim Balogun Stadium, venue of the just concluded National convention of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Surelere, Lagos State wore a new look outside being a beehive of activities.
More interesting also was the superb security that prevailed due to massive deployment of security operatives from both the police and the Department of State Services, DSS throughout the two-day event that held between December 10 and 11. Lighting was also adequate to illuminate the inside and outside of the stadium.
By 4pm on Wednesday, the first day, accreditation of party delegates, journalists and other stakeholders at the epochal event had already gotten underway.
This took place outside the main bowl of the stadium where party officials had stationed the individual booths of the respective states. And so, with the name of each state boldly inscribed on the booth, identification and accreditation were made easy.
Meanwhile, at the second and main gates of the stadium were a horde of security details who mounted sentry. Thorough electronic-aided search was also conducted at the port of entry. This warded off hoodlums and interlopers who had no business within and around the venue.
Inside, the stadium was well decorated to reflect the day. Flags and banners of the party were hoisted and spread very conspicuously to adorn the environment. Every state of the federation had a stand. Party leaders, senators, members of the House of Representatives had their place also. Of course, the place of the media stood out. At the center of the stadium was an erected platform which served as the podium for the various speakers. A red rug was also spread from the VIP stand to the center just as electronic projectors.
From within the centre of the pitch came some scintillating tunes that kept the place going that though the programme had not started as at 10 pm, that everyone had their fill.
While the wait lasted, two popular artists turned politicians, Tony One Week and Desmond Elliot were on stage entertaining the audience amid introduction of dignitaries. Tony Tetuila and Seyilaw were also hand and joined the duo.
Excited by the orderly coordination of the process, a member of the Board of Trustees of the party and Presidential Screening Committee, Dr. Sam Sam Jaja poured encomiums on the convention planning committee headed by the immediate past governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
The event finally came on stream at about 9:30 p.m. when former broadcaster turned lawmaker, Abike Dabiri-Erewa who was the official Master of Ceremony, MC, mounted the podium, calling for the singing of the Nigerian national anthem. This was followed by Christians and Islamic prayers.
This was followed by an avalanche of speeches. Among those who spoke were the host governor, Mr. Babatunde Fasola, the national chairman of the party, Mr. John Odigie-Oyegun, chairman of the Presidential Screening Committee, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Speaker Aminu Tambuwal of the House of Representatives, the national leader of APC and former governor of Lagos state, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and two party chieftains, Chief Audu Ogbe and Senator Danjuma Goje among others.
The five contestants for the presidential ticket, Gen. Mohammadu Buhari, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, governors of Kano and Imo States, Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso and Chief Rochas Okorocha, and the publisher of Leadership Newspaper, Sam Nda-Isaiah also had an opportunity to present their ideas to the delegates before the voting process was flagged off.One of the highlights of the convention was the unveiling of APC manifesto.
This happened before the commencement of actual voting.But the voting which commenced few minutes past two o’clock in the early morning of Thursday was disrupted two hours after by Delta State delegates who demanded that they must be allowed to cast their vote inspite of the missing verification cards.
The protest resulted into a free for all between Delta State delegates and some electoral officials.
The verification card had on it, name of each delegate from each state. And it also served as delegates voters card.
The protesting delegates smashed chairs and some voting materials, even as they chanted “No more voting. Until we are allowed to vote.” They especially targeted the alternate convention secretary, Dr. Alex Ideh, remarkably from Delta State who some claimed was the cause of their disfranchisement.
It took the intervention of the APC chairman, Chief Oyegun to restore normalcy at the scene about an hour after the crisis emanated.
But the matter was later resolved as voting continued. Voting ended at about 5 am, setting the stage for sorting of thumb-printed ballot papers and counting. This lasted until about some minutes to 6 pm on Thursday when General Mohammadu Buhari was declared winner of the exercise by polling 3,340 votes.
In his acceptance speech, Buhari said:“I ask that you join this effort, not for me, but to establish a better land for all of us. I understand and accept the hard challenge ahead. When all is said and done, let it be written that Muhammadu Buhari gave his all for this nation.
By Edos News