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How PDP Convention Improved Economy Of Rivers With Over N1bn

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It comes once in a while, though the national elective convention of the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may have come and gone, the fallouts on Rivers State and Port Harcourt in particular still fresh on the minds of the people. It has been estimated that the city witnessed a boom of over N1bn in spending that saw several sectors harvesting bountifully in 48 hours of rain of money. ANAYO ONUKWUGHA (PORT HARCOURT) reports.

Economic pundits were not wrong in their prediction of the likely fallouts of the recently concluded People Democratic Party (PDP) National Convention held in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital to elect its presidential candidate for the 2019 general elections.  The October 6 and 7, 2018 event which attracted close to 4,000 delegates from all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) completely locked down Port Harcourt and boomed businesses across the state.
Expectedly, 48 hours to the highly anticipated convention, Port Harcourt was already charged with lots of expectations from the business community in the city. From food vendors, printers, souvenir makers, hoteliers, forex managers, banks, transporters, event managers, fixers, drink spot centres, commercial sex workers and many others were top in their preparations to host the in flocks of guests to the Garden City.

While presidential aspirants agents were seen in the city at various entry points doing their jobs of lobbying the delegates who arrived Port Harcourt through various entry points. From the airport and various roads entry Port Harcourt, agents could be seen advertising their businesses especially the hoteliers, taxi operators and bureau de change managers who anticipated foreign currency rain as aspirants seeks delegates’ attention. As expected, the venue of the convention, the Adokiye Amesiamaka Sports Complex, located at Igwurita-Ali in Ikwerre local government area of Rivers State, wore a new look. The sports complex, built by the administration of governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and named after a football legend, Chief Adokiye Amesiamaka, came alive with traders, vendors, bureau de change agents took positions as the delegates and aspirants and their supporters poured into Port Harcourt in their thousands.
Few weeks before the convention, Rivers State governor, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, had reiterated that hosting the convention in Port Harcourt would improve on the economy of the state.
Wike said: “Every aspirant will be given a level playing field. That it is holding in Port Harcourt does not mean anybody will have undue advantage. What it will do for the state is that it will boost its local economy because groundnut, sachet water sellers and food vendors will have more sales. Hoteliers will also record increased business.
“That is the only thing Rivers State stands to gain from the holding of the convention in Port Harcourt; and anybody who is against Port Harcourt hosting the event does not like the state. He is against the economic interest of the state.”

48 hours before the commencement of the convention, food vendors, and traders in various consumables, stickers and caps had set up canopies around the sports complex, while supporters of the presidential aspirants adorned the entire environment with posters of their principals. The 40,000-capacity main stadium of the sports complex, the venue for the convention proper was adorned with the green, white and red colours of the PDP as well as several umbrellas, which is the symbol of the leading opposition party. For operators of bureau de change in Port Harcourt, they had brisk business within the period of the convention as delegates were alleged to have been bribed with dollars by some of the PDP presidential aspirants.
Unconfirmed report had that each delegate went home with at least 9,000 Dollars as presidential aspirants tried to out-pay each other.
A bureau de change operator along Birabi Street, GRA, Port Harcourt, who identified himself as Bala, confirmed that there was rapid rise in the demand for dollars on Friday evening and Saturday morning.

He stated that all through the night, people were coming from various parts of Port Harcourt to change Naira into its Dollar equivalent. Two weeks ahead of the PDP convention, most top hotels in Port Harcourt and its environs were fully booked by presidential aspirants and delegates. Most of the top hotels in Port Harcourt, especially those located in GRA Phase 2, Port Harcourt and Stadium Road, Port Harcourt, charged as high as N50, 000 per room per night. Even guest houses of some professional organisations, including the Nigeria Union of Journalists and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) as well as that of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) were also fully booked for the PDP convention. According to chairman of Nigerian Hotel Owners Association (NHOA) in Rivers State, Mr Eugene Nwuzi, over 620 hotels benefitted from massive booking of hotels by delegates who attended the PDP special national convention.
Nwuzi stated that hotels based in Port Harcourt City, Obio/Akpor and Ikwerre local government areas of the state, benefitted from the massive booking.
He further stated that some top hotels also ran out of booking space due to last minute reservations for delegates and their supporters.
Nwuzi thanked Rivers State governor, Wike, for attracting the PDP convention to Port Harcourt, adding that it was beneficial to businesses in the state.
He said: “We have over 620 hotels in Obio/Akpor local government area, Port Harcourt City local government area and some parts of Ikwerre local government area that benefitted from the PDP convention.

“So, we are happy and we thank the governor. The event was very peaceful. That is to tell the world that one can come to Rivers State.”
A financial expert, Mr Ignatius Chukwu, said at the end of the PDP convention, at least, the sum of N300 Million went into the economy of Rivers State.
He stated that while the sum of N400 Million may have been spent from hotel accommodation by the delegates, the sum of N100 Million and N80 Million were spent on feeding and other purchases respectively.

LEADERSHIP Friday was informed by local observers that petty traders, taxi operators and long distance transporters raked in nothing less than N100 million in returns. The forex operators, according to Mr James Uche, a local observer, said doled out nothing less than N500 million in cash to people seeking to change foreign currencies to naira equivalent.
Even after the convention ended, Uche said some of the delegates that held hard currencies, for fear of the unknown, were seen trooping into various banks to deposit into their dollar accounts.
For those without forex account, he said they had besieged the various bureau de change to get naira and deposit in their naira account before leaving Port Harcourt.
“The city witnessed money rain for 48 hours with all the financial outlets, hotels, trading points, restaurants and even commercial sex workers smiling to the banks. It was a good time for business in Port Harcourt, thanks to the PDP and their big money spenders. The city saw over N1 billion in 48 hours,” Uche said.

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Even after the convention ended, Uche said some of the delegates that held hard currencies, for fear of the unknown, were seen trooping into various banks to deposit into their dollar accounts.



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