Over 3,800 delegates across the 36 states of the federation and Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja are expected to decide the fate of President Goodluck Jonathan, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and veteran aspirant, Mrs. Sarah Jibril, at today’s presidential primary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
THISDAY gathered that of the 3,800 delegates, 60 per cent would come from the 19 Northern states while the remaining 40 per cent would come from the South.
The party was waiting for some states before releasing the final list of delegates.
The National Organizing Secretary of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, said accreditation was holding at two locations at the International Conference Centre and the Women Centre both in Abuja.
He said the election would be through open-secret ballot system, stating that the convention proper would commence today at exactly 10 am.
All the three presidential aspirants will address the delegates at the convention venue. Also, the National Secretary of PDP, Abubakar Kawu Baraje, will present a report on the state of the party, while the National Auditor will present the party’s audit report.
Meanwhile, ahead of the convention, the South-west Coordinator of the Goodluck/Sambo Campaign Organisation, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, has given reasons why delegates from the zone will vote en-bloc for President Jonathan.
Daniel, who is also the Governor of Ogun State, told newsmen in Abuja that as a very sophisticated people, the South-west places a lot of premium on certain qualities which they expect each candidate to possess.
He said the efficiency, which is the hallmark of the Jonathan presidency so far, as well as the principle of equity are the twin considerations behind the massive support the South-west is giving to Jonathan.
Orderlies and security details attached to delegates attending the convention will not be allowed to carry firearms into the Eagle Square, venue of the party's primary election.
In addition to the maximum security cordon already thrown around the venue, all vehicles located within the area will be evacuated as police deployed 17,000 men for the convention.
Abujaresidents are also encountering traffic gridlock following the diversion of traffic from the Eagle Square as they are forced to seek alternative routes.
Speaking at a news conference at the Louis Edet House Force Headquarters in Abuja yesterday, the Inspector General of Police (IG), Hafiz Ringim, said as part of measures aimed at ensuring adequate security at the venue of the convention, security details attached to government officials attending the event would not be allowed to carry arms into the venue.
The Federal Government, he said, had constituted a security task force comprising all the security agencies, which was mandated to ensure that ammunition are not allowed at the Eagle Square in order to avert any likely occurrence of accidental discharge.
"The Nigeria Police wishes to announce to the general public that security personnel and aides to dignitaries will not be allowed into the Eagle Square with firearms or any other weapon such as tear smoke, hand grenades or canisters.
"Tomorrow (today), the security task force will not allow arms at the venue. Orderlies who have arms will not be allowed. A task force comprising all security agencies will ensure that there are no firearms in the venue in order to avoid any likely cases of accidental discharge," he said.
He said the police would not allow hawking of any kind, loitering or unauthorised movement of any persons within the precincts of the venue of the convention.
"Therefore, the residents of Abuja and its environs are advised to remain calm and report any suspicious person, movement or objects to any security agency closest to them," he said.
The IG said residents of the city would be inconvenienced as the entire city had been cordoned off. He said anti-terrorism and anti-bomb squads were all over the city.
Delegates, he said, would be screened while vehicles would be searched. He said delegates were also expected to seat with one another on state by state basis.
He stated that the cordon would start from the Force Headquarters on Shehu Shagari Way close to the Three Arms Zone ending at the Eagle Square and on to Ahmadu Bello Way overlooking the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Ringim warned members of the public to be alert and watch out for baggages and other suspicious items.
On the conflict of roles among the security agencies, he maintained that in terms of internal security, Police remained the lead agency, adding that there would be no conflict of roles. He further said the situation neither conferred a superiority role on the police nor inferiority role on the other agencies.