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Jonathan Demands N2trn Election Funds Refund, Audit

christian nwodo - Sunday, April 19, 2015

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.

“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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