ACN CONVENTION: THE FLIP SIDE AND THE CAMPAIGN WAR
Right from the onset, political watchers had expressed discomfort about the venue chosen for the convention. The Blue Roof event space at the Lagos Television (LTV 8, Agidingbi, Ikeja Lagos, they reasoned was not an ideal venue for an event as big as a national convention of a party that is popular.
Although, newspaper advertorials placed by the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Alhaji Lai Muhammed said that the event was absolutely meant for only the national delegates, observers still believed that the venue was not the ideal place for such an event.
But when one witnessed the orderly manner the security operatives were checking in the delegates, and curtailing the intruders, one could not but agree with the party that it knew its onion.
As early as 7.00am, well attired delegates from all over the country had started trooping into the venue. Some aspirants among them defied the party's order that the occasion was not to showcase aspirations. Banner wielding supporters bombarded the venue competing with one another to impress it on the leadership of the party that their principals were the best materials for the job.
No aspirant was spared as even the highly respected governor of Lagos State, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Babatunde Raji Fashola's supporters were not left out in the silent campaign war. For more effect, some politicians chose the right period to arrive the venue with a view to attracting ovation and a few of them succeeded. Expectedly, high ranking political big wigs like Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Aremo Segun Osoba, Alhaji Lam 'Majiyagbe' Adesina, Dr. Chris Ngige as well as the two AC (N) governors, Fashola of Lagos and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole could not have sneaked into the venue without commotion. And that was exactly what happened.
The Master of Ceremony (MC), who was the former Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Henry Oladele Alake in fact lived to his billing as he exhausted all the superlative adjectives and high sounding adverbial clauses known in the English lexicon in attempts to putting life into the occasion that could rightly described as the galaxy of political stars.
Check the roll call: Chief Bisi Akande, Dr. Usman Bugaje, Dr. Chris Ngige, Mrs. Sarah Sosan, Chief Segun Osoba, Alhaji Lam Adesina, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, Mr. Dele Belgore (SAN), Mr. Lola Ashiru, Bamidele Olumilua, Prince Tajudeen Oluyole Olusi, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Alhaji Rauf Aregbesola, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Asiwaju Bisi Adegbuyi, Cardinal James Omolaja Odunmbaku, Chiefs Joe Igbokwe and Funsho Ologunde, Alahji Tajudeen Ola Bello, Prince Abiodun Ogunleye, Senator Ibikunle Amosu, Mr.Kehinde Bamigbetan, Prince Rotimi Obadofin among others.
The first interesting aspect that caused uproar was the amendment that said two delegates from every ward must include a woman. The motion was moved by Hon Abbai from Yobe state but was countered by Dr. Tunji Abayomi who preferred the amendment to read 'two delegates that must include a youth.'
The women's protest necessitated another counter motion from the former Anambra state governor, Dr. Chris Ngige who raised the number of the delegates to three to include 'a woman, a youth and one from the rest of us.'
Former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu seconded the motion and it became part of the amendment to the admiration of the women members of the party. Akande described the scenario as the beauty of democracy being exhibited by the AC(N) saying party politics was for the people.
However, disaster knocked on the door at the event when the supporters, who were earlier prevented from the venue rebelled to be part of the programme. They surged forward and overwhelmed the security operatives. The resultant stampede led to the collapse of the fence of the Blue Roof at the Lagos State Television premises, and eventual trampling on a few people. Even the current Lagos Commissioner for Information and strategy and Ekiti Central Senatorial hopeful could'nt help but to be part of the medical team to revive victims.
But the MC, Dele Alake allayed the fears of the delegates that the reports from the medical team had it that there was no casualty. In fact, besides the near ugly incident, the orderliness of the convention would be the talk of the town for some time to come.