APC Convention: hotels and restaurants record record attendance

François Ndubuisi and King Akan

Hotels, restaurants and other businesses in Abuja are experiencing a boom as the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) holds its convention to choose a presidential candidate.

Eagle Square, the convention venue located at the Federal Secretariat, has seen an increase in activity over the past two days as 2,340 ruling party delegates converge on the nation’s capital.

An investigation by THISDAY yesterday found that restaurants inside the Federal Secretariat public parking lot, adjacent to the convention venue, were bustling with increased footfall.

Previously, parking lot users were usually greeted by restaurant waiters to come and patronize them, but this was not the case during THISDAY’s visit.

Calabar Kitchen and other restaurant brands were seen working frantically to tend to customers, some of whom were standing due to lack of seating.

Some grocery stores and those selling household items have been seen doing buoyant business.

Popular restaurants in the capital like Jevinik, Secret Garden on Ahmadu Bello Way; Restaurant Canteen,

The 355 Steakhouse & Lounge, among others, was not spared by the increased attendance

A visit to some hotels, particularly those around Maitama, Asokoro and Garki, indicated that they were not only fully booked, but saw their rates go up.

Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Summerseat, Lincon Luxury and Fraser Suites were some of the central area hotels visited by THISDAY.

Although hotel officials said they were too busy to talk, some reception staff who spoke on condition of anonymity said their patronage was at full capacity.

Some of them according to surveys have increased the charges from N107,000 to N243,000 per room per night.

Others who previously charged N70,000 for a room are now asking for N120,000, while those with regular room rates at N50,000 are now going for N100,000.

However, some hotels in the Jabi axis that were investigated were not full while others that ran out of space turned away guests.

The Sandralia Hotel along Solomon Lar Way Jabi was full and had to turn away some APC delegates who had approached them for accommodation.

The hotel’s housekeeping manager, Prince Ugochukwu, told THISDAY that some APC delegates initially made reservations with the hotel before the party changed its one-week convention.

Ugochukwu, who said he was speaking on behalf of hotel operations manager Eddy Kome, said when delegates returned rooms were full.

He revealed that the Sierra Leone national team, the Leone Stars, who had made reservations about two weeks ago, were staying at the hotel.

The Leone Stars are expected to sign the Nigerian national team, the Super Eagles, for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers at the Moshood Abional National Stadium in Abuja at the weekend.

Some Sierra Leonean players and officials were seen relaxing in the hotel lobby.

A visit to the Chida Jabi hotel did not yield any positive results, but at the 3JHs hotel, Jabi, the general manager, Ibrahim Abubakar, said that although the hotel still had rooms available to accommodate some delegates from the ‘APC who had expressed interest earlier, they did not show up.

However, he said the occupancy rate was between 60 and 70%.

Abubakar said sometimes the occupancy peaks at 100 percent, adding that the hospitality industry has overcome the setback of COVID-19.

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