On the heels of the March 28 Presidential election, in which President Goodluck Jonathan lost his re-election bid, Punch is authoritatively reporting that investigation launched by the incumbent reveals that politicians and government officials spent millions of naira meant for election campaigns and ‘errands’ on luxury properties.
The President, who is said to have released over N2 trillion in cash to campaign coordinators, ministers, special advisers, close aides and friends, support groups and traditional rulers, is bothered that most of the people could not even deliver their polling booths and local governments.
“The President was said to have been further irked by the results of an investigation he ordered. The probe showed that some coordinators used campaign funds to buy very expensive properties, especially in Abuja, and luxury cars. Some of the funds have also been traced to the bank accounts of senior party and government officials who were charged with the disbursement of funds to voters and groups,” Punch report reads in part.
According to the report, Jonathan has also set up a committee of five to ensure the funds are recovered. But a source in the Presidency however told the newspaper that, a close associate of the President said getting the money back would be difficult.
It also contained that funds given to traditional rulers across the country will not be asked for, but that the President is bent on making his ministers, close aides and special advisers refund the monies collected.
The source said; “Some ministers did not get less than N20bn each. None of them can deny it because this fact isn’t hidden within government circles. The only problem with such monies is that there is no receipt to show that they collected money. The sad part is that almost all of them performed woefully. Even in the states where the PDP won, some ministers could not deliver 100,000 votes. They could not mobilise their people to come out. The President is not happy. They all went property and car shopping. This was the most expensive election in the history of this country, yet there was no result.
“The sad part was that even after the President lost on March 28, more money was given to all of them to make up for the dismal outing by winning their states during the April 11 elections. But that turned out to be a bad decision because apart from losing the governorship election, we didn’t perform well at the National Assembly and House of Representatives polls.
“They must give an account of the money since they didn’t use it for the election. The President is not particular about the funds spent on genuine campaign needs like the hiring of jets, advertisements and the rest that also cost billions of naira. His focus is on the individuals that collected billions to deliver their states but couldn’t even win their polling booths.”
According to Punch, apart from the N20 billion given to some key ministers and senior special advisers, especially in states where the PDP hoped to capture from the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), some pro-Jonathan support groups received about N16bn.
Confirming the cash distribution, a senior member of the PDP also told the newspaper that “Lagos was a show of shame.”
The insider said; “A few days to the governorship poll, about $150m was received in cash by about five top campaign coordinators. But they failed again, even more than we did in the presidential poll because we lost some areas we won on March 28 to the APC on April 11. They were to share this money to the local governments and the masses.
“Please understand me, I am saying that the sum of $150m was just for the governorship election in Lagos. We are not talking about the sums they got for the presidential election. Only one out of the five people that shared the money gave some of it to local government chairmen. This person disbursed about N2bn. The rest of them sat on the money.
“The coordinator that collected the sum of $50m later went to a Federal Government agency and complained of not having enough funds for the election and got an additional $20m. The story is the same in almost all the South-West especially Oyo, Osun, and the northern states. A female minister from the North, who got the highest amount of funds for that region, lost her state in a shameful manner.”
However, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh, distanced the party from the cash disbursement.
“The national leadership of the PDP is not aware of any campaign fund. We were not part of it and therefore we can’t be asked to account for what we didn’t know anything about," he said.“There was a campaign committee and only the committee is in the position to account for any fund.”
The committee set up to retrieve the monies has been said to be unsuccessful so far, as the beneficiaries are not cooperating.
The President is reportedly focusing on the South-West and northern states.