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 Jonathan demands N2trn election funds refund, audit

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eddyvic
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PostSubject: Jonathan demands N2trn election funds refund, audit   Sun 19 Apr 2015, 10:39 am

Following the defeat suffered by
President Goodluck Jonathan and
his party, the Peoples Democratic
Party, during the March 28 and April
11 elections, the President has
asked the party and government
officials who handled campaign
funds to refund monies not spent,
or those not judiciously expended,
SUNDAY PUNCH can authoritatively
report.
Jonathan, credible sources said, has
also set up a committee of five to
get those with the funds to return
them.
Sources within the party and
government told our
correspondents that President
Jonathan was disturbed that
despite giving campaign
coordinators, ministers, special
advisers, close aides and friends,
support groups and traditional
rulers over N2trn in cash, most of
them could not 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.
A reliable source within the
Presidency told our correspondents
that one of the President, who
recently admitted to a few close
aides that it would be difficult to
retrieve all the funds, was bent on
getting senior party and
government officials who received
funds to account for all monies
collected.
The source who is a close associate
of the president said monies given
to traditional rulers in different
parts of the country, for example,
would not be demanded for. But
the source was quick to add that
the President was determined to
get his ministers, close aides and
special advisers to make refunds.
He 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.”
Our correspondents gathered that
apart from the N20bn given to
some key ministers and senior
special advisers, especially in states
where the PDP hoped to capture
from the opposition All
Progressives Congress, some pro-
Jonathan support groups received
about N16bn.
A former legislator who was to print
five million recharge cards, T-shirts
and base ball caps has also come
under pressure to account for the
billions she received because only
a few people got the items she was
paid to produce. Also, a top female
politician in Lagos who got a
contract to produce and supply
thousands of mobile phones with
pro-Jonathan messages was said to
have produced just a few and
pocketed most of the funds.
It was learnt that the funds
Jonathan released were disbursed
in three phases. Some were
released before the March 28
elections, others on the day of the
presidential election and more
before the April 11 governorship
polls.
Already, the committee of five has
started asking some of the
campaign coordinators and
ministers who received a minimum
of N20bn each to give an account
and also refund residual funds
where applicable.
However, our correspondents
learnt that most of the people who
received the funds had not
cooperated with the committee.
While some have not been
forthcoming, others have simply
ignored the committee.
Jonathan is said to be particularly
focusing on the South-West and
northern states.
In Lagos, a popular PDP chieftain
who lost in his polling booth
reportedly received $50m in cash a
few days before the governorship
elections.
A senior PDP party member who
spoke to one of our correspondents
in Lagos over the weekend
confirmed the cash splurge in
Lagos.
The source said, “Lagos was a show
of shame. 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.”
Confirming that campaign directors
in different parts of the country had
been asked for an audit, the PDP
Campaign Director in Akwa Ibom,
Mr. Idongesit Nkanga, said the
instruction was not new.
He stated that the PDP’s campaign
organisation in the state had
concluded its audit.
“It is the normal thing. It is the right
thing to do for transparency’s
sake,” he said.
Nkanga said he would not be able
to comment on the refund because
he did not collect money from
anyone.
According to him, the PDP’s
campaign organisation in Akwa
Ibom State received a letter for an
audit from the PDP campaign
headquarters.
He explained that “because the
letter emanated from the national
headquarters of the party, they
were under obligation to submit
the audit report about the
campaign’s expenditure to them.”
He maintained that at the campaign
headquarters, some of the
information was available, adding
that he would not be able to give
SUNDAY PUNCH accurate details
offhand to avoid possible conflict in
the figures.
Asked what sanctions would be
meted out to defaulters, Nkanga
said they might be prosecuted.
However, our correspondent
reports that prosecution, while not
impossible, may be difficult as most
of the monies disbursed were not
receipted.
Contacted, the national leadership
of the ruling PDP said it did not
know anything about the money
spent on its presidential campaign.
National Publicity Secretary of the
party, Mr. Olisa Metuh, stated this in
an interview with one of our
correspondents in Abuja on
Saturday.
Metuh said only those put in charge
of the funds were in a position to
account for the monies.
He said, “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.
“There was a campaign committee
and only the committee is in the
position to account for any fund.”
Efforts made to speak with the
Director-General of the PDP
Presidential Campaign
Organisation, Sen. Ahmadu Ali were
unsuccessful.
Ali, a former national chairman of
the party, did not pick his call and
also failed to respond to a text
message sent to him.
Similarly, efforts to get the
Presidency’s reaction did not yield
any result as calls made to the
telephone line of the presidential
spokesman, Reuben Abati, as at
10.30pm did not connect.
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