The All Progressives Congress has named Lagos as the venue of its December 10 presidential primary.
According to a report in Punch, eight thousand delegates are expected to participate in the convention, scheduled to hold at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere, Lagos.
The APC four other presidential aspirants –former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha, and Leadership Newspaper publisher, Sam Nda-Isaiah – had jointly asked for a venue outside Lagos, said to be favoured by Buhari and a former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu.
But the APC convention committee, led by ex-Ekiti State governor, KayodeFayemi, ignored the subtle protest by the presidential aspirants and on Wednesday announced the choice of Lagos as replacement for Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
Fayemi explained that his committee had been able to convince all the aspirants on the suitability of the new venue while noting their concerns about logistics.
The four aspirants had, in the protest letter, argued that Abuja was more centrally located and easily accessible to delegates from all over the nation.
In the letter, the aspirants observed that the proposed choice of Lagos as possible venue for the presidential primaries was not convenient.
The letter partly read, “We the under-listed presidential aspirants of the APC, having noted the clash of date of 10th December for APC and PDP National Convention/Presidential Primaries wish to advise as follows:
But another source said the fears being expressed by aspirants about the venue were not unfounded.
The source said, “There is news making the rounds that a certain leader of the party has booked most of the decent hotels in Lagos.
According to the source, Benin was earlier considered because “the heartbeat of the nation” would serve the dual role of marketing the party as a truly national party and not a metamorphosis of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria as well as selling the party to the electorate in the South-South.
It was, however, gathered that the party leadership picked Lagos because Benin lacked the facilities and security capability to take care of the huge crowd expected at the convention.
Fayemi told journalists at a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday that there was nothing sinister about the choice of Lagos.
According to him, the party, especially his committee, is more concerned about the process than the product.
In another interview in Abuja, Fayemi said that the initial plan of the committee and the party was to hold the event in Abuja but that the APC changed gear because the ruling PDP was also holding its convention almost at the same time. He said it would be difficult for the two dominant parties to be holding events of such magnitude at the same time.
Besides, he also said that the Eagle Square, which he said his party would have used, was also going to be used by the PDP.
The PDP convention has been fixed for December 10 and 11 in Abuja.
On the alleged fears of other presidential aspirants that Lagos could be used to crown unnamed aspirants, he said the allegation was not true.
Meanwhile, the Atiku campaign office on Wednesday welcomed the decision to hold the APC convention in Lagos.
In a statement signed by his media office, the former Vice-President said he wholeheartedly welcomed the choice of Lagos as the venue for the presidential primaries of the APC.
The Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, said Lagos was the best location for the exercise given the state’s strategic position.
He said, “It is a welcome development. Lagos has the funds, the logistics and all the necessary things to conduct the exercise. Delegates are also assured of adequate security as the violence which marred the conduct of the House of Assembly primary in Yaba can never recur.
Photo Credit:Atiku Campaign Media