Nigeria to deploy 15,000 police personnel for party convention

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The Nigeria police will deploy some 15,000 police personnel for the convention of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the capital city of Abuja Saturday, the local press reported.

The personnel, who will ensure a smooth conduct of the convention, will be drawn from the bomb disposal squad, anti-riot unit, the anti-terrorism squad and the regular police.

Local newspapers Friday quoted Inspector-General of Police Mike Okiro as saying adequate preparations had been made to ensure the safety of participants at the convention, during which key leaders of the party will be elected.

Tension is high ahead of the convention, as various groups jostle for strategic advantage.

It will be the first elective convention of the PDP since President Umaru Yar’Adua was sworn into office 29 May 2007.

Political analysts said the President might want to use the occasion to take charge of the party and wean himself from his predecessor, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is till believed to hold much sway in the so-called Africa’s biggest political party.

Obasanjo, who handpicked Yar’Adua as his successor ahead of the 21 April 2007 presidential election, is the Chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees (BOT), perhaps its most powerful post.

But President Yar’Adua has directed that all candidates for the national posts should be allowed to contest freely, ending plans by the convention organisers to screen the contestants.

The analysts said the directive meant that President wanted to give all concerned a level playing field, instead of the old practice of picking candidates by consensus and screening out those who are not favoured by the party power brokers.

“But that will still not prevent the President from rallying support for his favoured candidates,” an observer said on the condition of anonymity. Panapress

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