Recently, Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja was host to a very big political event which attracted thousands of delegates who converged for the 2022 national convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
While high-wire politicians were busy with the business of selecting the new national officers of the party, Saturday Vanguard observed many side events which took place within the precincts of the Eagle Square Arena where members of the ruling party were having their national rally.
In 2003, the World Values Survey had reported that the world’s happiest people lived in Nigeria.
Today, the story has changed due to the spread of poverty across the land and the increasing wave of insecurity.
However, the indicators which gave the nation a long history of having one of the most happy populations across the globe were conspicuously reflected during the APC national convention.
Some of these indicators were the bustling spirit of entrepreneurship and the people’s belief that they can go places in any endeavour they choose to pursue
These two factors not only fueled the people’s ambitions and fired their optimism, they also placed citizens on the path towards happiness even under the military rule which greatly limited personal freedoms in the country
Many merchants and street hawkers were happy to take advantage of the opportunities for business the APC national convention created to display their goods before the mammoth crowd and rake in huge sums of money on the sidelines of the huge political event.
On a normal day, it would have been near impossible for these traders to do business indiscriminately around the venue of the convention, i.e. Eagle Square arena, which is the epicenter of the Federal Secretariat complex and a short distance from the State House Aso Villa, the National Assembly and the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
Also, the APC convention was an opportunity for teams of delegates from the 36 States and the FCT to showcase their preferred aspirants for various elective positions within and outside the party ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The gathering of party faithful from across the country was equally a display of colour from groups who believe the ruling party has what it will take to retain power beyond President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime.
One of such party faithful is a die-hard Buharist and APC supporter who rode 590km on the back of a camel from Katsina to Abuja, because of his desire to participate in the just concluded national convention of the party. In spite of all the happenings inside and around the Eagle Square arena, what became the centre of attention for most people was this camel rider who made a 120 hour trip to the nation’s capital on his long-necked animal which also possessed long slender legs and two jumps at the back.
“My name is Ibrahim Yahaya Hamisu. I came all the way from Katsina to Abuja to show Nigerians that I am an authentic APC man. It took me five days to arrive,” he said.
Asked why he embarked on such a trip considering the security risks associated with traveling through certain parts of the Northwest region, Hamisu told Saturday Vanguard: “I did it for the love I have for APC.”
Popularly called ‘Bakin Balarabe’ which literally means ‘The black Arabian’, the camel rider said his long journey on the back of the camel through towns and cities caught the public imagination as many approached him for conversations and selfies; adding that the excitement generated by his trip lifted his spirits.
“As I journeyed, some people, including motorists would see me, park their vehicles and come over to ask me questions that show me they are surprised. Some of them even ask for photographs with me,” he said
Hamisu, however, said he had to switch off his phones throughout the trip for security and other reasons best known to him.
For those who think that riding on the back of a camel is easy, during the APC national convention many people who came in physical proximity to the desert creature of considerable size, flatly refused to take a ride with Hamisu when he invited them to join him. Some people nearly even lost their breath on hearing his appeal.
Meanwhile, other sights and sounds at the APC national convention included carefully rehearsed local choreography and cultural displays by groups from the 36 states of the Federation and the FCT.
While many Nigerians adjudged the APC convention last weekend as successful, it sure left the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) with a lot of mess to clean up as Saturday Vanguard observed many staff of the Board tidying the Eagle Square and its precincts early on the first day of the work week.