Sunday, 5 April 2015
How Ministers, Governors Sabotaged Jonathan.
catherine agbo, Chibuzo Ukaibe
President Goodluck Jonathan etched his name in gold in history books when he called president-elect, Gen Muhammadu Buhari (retd) on March 31, to congratulate him even before the result of the presidential election had been completely collated and the winner declared by the Independent National Electoral commission (INEC).
But while it would appear to all that President Jonathan has already moved on after conceding defeat, LEADERSHIP Sunday can authoritatively report that he is nursing the sting of betrayal by his close allies, which led to his loss at the polls.
According to reliable presidency sources, beyond the pain of losing out, he is disappointed that despite assurances from his cabinet members and other trusted political appointees as well as high ranking officials of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that they had vigorously campaigned and sold his achievements to the people and were sure from feelers they were receiving that he would be re-elected, it turned out that they had in fact, not campaigned for him as they made it seem.
The president, it was gathered is particularly peeved by the action of some governors of Northern and North-Central states where he suffered the worst defeat.
Of the 19 states in the north, the PDP, the president’s party only won the presidential election in Plateau, Nasarawa and Taraba.
LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered that the sum of N500million was given as campaign fund to each state but those who the funds were entrusted to, rather than use the money for the purpose it was meant, held on to it. The money was disbursed through PDP-led state governors and cabinet ministers or political appointees in opposition-led states.
In Ondo State for instance, LEADERSHIP gathered that the money was disbursed through one of the principal presidency officials from the state but as at night fall on the election eve, the official was yet to deliver the money to the state governor for the campaigns. The leadership of the PDP in the state, it was learnt, resorted to calling managers of banks in the state late in the night on the eve of the presidential election to ask for funds but could only get very little, by which time there wasn’t enough time to reach out to a large number of electorate in the state.
A similar scenario reportedly played out in Oyo State where a minister from the state who was entrusted with the campaign funds allegedly held onto the money. In Kogi State where the PDP also lost out in the presidential election, LEADERSHIP sources said money for the election was also diverted to other uses such as payment of debts, hence the abysmal result the party got in the state.
The abysmal performance of the party in Benue, Bauchi and Kano states, where the PDP has two governors, a Senate president, national chairman of the party and three cabinet ministers, Gabriel Suswam, Isa Yuguda, David Mark, Adamu Muazu, Bala Mohammed, Ibrahim Shekarau and Aminu Wali, respectively, but could not garner votes for the president, was also said to have drawn his ire.
Our source said the president despite having received security reports that a high ranking official of the party was allegedly covertly working for the opposition was particularly annoyed that he had trusted the said official and waved the reports.
Sources in Kaduna State where the vice president, Namadi Sambo hails from and where there is a PDP government in charge, also informed LEADERSHIP Sunday that in one of the local governments in Southern Kaduna, only N100,000 was allotted to two polling units in one of the wards with a voting population of over 1,000 people in sharp contrast with the situation in some local governments in Edo State, where eligible voters with Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) were given N2000 each to vote for the party, hence the success recorded.
Recall that few days before the election, LEADERSHIP Sunday’s sister publication, LEADERSHIP, had exclusively reported that allegations of embezzlement and diversion of campaign funds were rife in the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation (PDPPCO).
According to the report, coordinators of some of President Jonathan’s campaign groups as well as state and zonal coordinators were taking steps to ensure that they did not lose out completely, in the event that he does not win. LEADERSHIP’s investigations in Abuja revealed that the coordinators, rather than use the money for campaigns, had been scouting the Abuja property market with dollars, acquiring choice property. The campaigners, it was gathered, rather than use the money for the purpose it is meant, have resorted to investing the money in property, so that in the event that their candidate does not emerge, they would have something to fall back on.
Real estate agents privy to the development told LEADERSHIP Sunday that since the campaigns began and particularly after the postponement of the elections, there had been an upswing in the number of persons looking to buy property and most of them who usually pay in dollars had been linked to the campaign.
Recall also that about two weeks before the presidential and National Assembly election, there was a free-for-all among some PDP officials in Ogun State, following the failure of those entrusted with the money to release same to campaign coordinators across the state. It was gathered that the campaign coordinators suspected foul play when the money which was to be shared among 708 of them was not, over claims that it was yet to be paid into a certain designated bank account.
Similarly, another report had it that a former governor deeply involved in President Jonathan’s re-election campaign had rather than use money given to him for campaign, deposited it in a bank for it to yield interest and possibly remain there till after the election, after which it will be forgotten and he would convert it to personal use.
Sources within the president’s campaign organisation, said such funds were being used by those they were entrusted with as they pleased and that the situation had compelled the president to personally take charge of his campaign especially in the Northern and South-Western parts of the country.
At the time of the report, a high ranking member of the campaign organisation had confirmed to LEADERSHIP that the headquarters of the campaign organisation was in the know of the development.
“State coordinators are responsible for mobilising and organising campaign rallies in their respective states while zonal coordinators do same for zonal campaigns and when people from the headquarters attend such rallies, they take note of the lapses in planning for further action. The money for such organisation and mobilisation is disbursed by the PDPPCO.
“It has come to the knowledge of the campaign organisation that some coordinators have been telling party members that the money given to them is not sufficient to do what they expect of them but this is not true. They have been given adequate funds. However, the matter cannot be handled now till after the election when the coordinators would be required to retire their spending. The focus right now is on the election,” he said.
It was further gathered that while collation of results was on-going on March 31, after the result of Delta State was presented and it became imminent that Jonathan had lost out, as results from Sokoto, Borno and Yobe were still being expected, some allies of Jonathan met him at the Presidential Villa, where they reportedly prevailed on him to stop further collation and announcement of the results.
While the desperadoes were trying frantically to make Jonathan see reason why he should not accept the outcome of the poll, people on the other divide, led by former head of state, Gen Abdulsalam Abubakar, who were for peace urged Jonathan not to allow the moment of making history slip by.
The president eventually, the source said, rebuffed them saying after failing to convince people to vote for him, they were now suggesting ideas that would set the country on fire.
Following the president’s refusal to play ball, his allies who by now had realised that they would also lose out if he is not re-elected, immediately reached out to the party’s representatives at the collation centre, Dr. Bello Fadile, who is also a director in the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) and former minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Orubebe, following which Orubebe disrupted collation of results for several minutes, citing INEC’s refusal to attend to a protest by the PDP over results from some Northern states whereas the commission had set up a committee to investigate allegations against the party in Rivers State.
Jonathan, our sources said, called and ordered Orubebe to desist from further disrupting the collation process, failing which he would be whisked out by security operatives, which explains why Orubebe who had earlier rebuffed all entreaties to retreat from the podium, suddenly went back to his seat and remained calm for the rest of the exercise.
The source said that following the development, the president had directed that certain members of the party including governors of some Northern states should not be allowed access to him for now, “and that is why it was only governors of South-East and South-West states that paid him a visit on Monday. The only Northern Governor on the entourage was the Plateau governor. The party won in his state.”
Meanwhile, governors, states chairmen and governorship candidates of the party have been strategising on how to win the governorship and state assembly elections this Saturday. They met at the national headquarters of the party in Abuja, on Friday.
Mu’azu Blames Loss On Voter Apathy
The national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday blamed President Jonathan’s loss in last Saturday’s presidential election on voter apathy.
Mu’azu however charged all PDP gubernatorial candidates in the April 11 polls to guard against the bandwagon effect that could arise from the presidential election.
Mu’azu, in a statement signed by his media aide, Tony Amadi, said, expressed hope that the governorship election will certainly provide the PDP a soft-landing after conceding the presidency to the All Progressives Congress in the presidential election and urged the PDP faithful to pick up the pieces and ensure that they return quickly to the party’s old winning ways.
“There should be no room for voter apathy that was a major factor to our losing the presidential election. While our opponents were savouring their famous victory, we should out flank them and corner at least two thirds of the states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This is not an impossible target if we return to our elements with immediate effect. We have done it before and we can do it again. Nothing will be sweeter than PDP taking Lagos, our own Rivers State and Imo. Our candidates in these states are first class material who have fully penetrated the political structures of those states and are set to win.
“Our target in this remaining election should be to retain our present states and then sink our teeth into the heart of our political opponents and show that their presidential victory is nothing more than a one-off that won’t be repeated in a long while,” he noted.
Muazu, in the statement, recalled that earlier in the week, he had reminded gubernatorial candidates of the party at Wadata House that one thing that won’t happen in the gubernatorial race is “the so called bandwagon effect. The reason is simple. Our party is used to bouncing back whenever we experience a setback.
“The PDP in the past 16 years of democracy has maintained fair play consistently, this much the APC admitted in their response to President Jonathan’s speech conceding to President-elect General Muhammdu Buhari.”
He emphasised that the key to winning the remaining election was heavy turnout and voting the PDP all the way.
“There should be no tactical voting. Be consistent in your support for the party. What we experienced in the presidential election is merely a hiccup which we must cast out in the gubernatorial polls. All PDP supporters must remember their pedigree, our track record and history of the party and the source of our electoral feats of the last 16 years. We are the reason that democracy has taken root in Nigeria since 1999. This is something every member of our great party should be very proud of.
“We have only lost a battle but the war to bring our country to the highest level of democratic governance is still to be won or lost. Our governorship candidates should go out and finish the good fight and come up trumps in the remaining gubernatorial and houses of assembly election on 11th April. We remain the winning party and by God’s special grace, we shall win again and again.”