Political appointees and N100 million election fee

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Uba Group

Uba Group

BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, OSOGBO

As the shockwave generated by the ease with which some political appointees and ministers under the current administration of president Muhammadu Buhari doled out the sum of N100 million for the purchase of the All Progressives Congress presidential nomination and expression of interest forms, continues to generate discourse in the polity, calls have been made to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to investigate the various actors involved in the saga.

At the forefront of these calls for a probe is ex-reps member, Mojeed Alabi, who asked the EFCC to, as a matter of urgency, probe all the Buhari ministers and appointees who paid the lump sum and were subsequently asked to resign by their principal, the president.

Recall that following Buhari’s directive to all political appointees and ministers nursing elective positions in next year’s general election to resign, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, Minister of State for Education; Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation; Godswill Akpabio, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs; Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of Science and Technology, and others, had bid farewell to the federal cabinet.

Of interest to Alabi, who is also a Professor of Law, is the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, whom he (Alabi) singled out for criticism, pointing out that he mismanaged the economy, and said, together with other ministers, should be drilled and made to explain how they made their money.

“We should be able to scrutinize him (Emefiele) on where he is going to get the money to prosecute the election since he is a public office holder. The N100 million is just to buy form, we are yet to talk about other money that they (presidential aspirants) would spend. If Nigeria is to work well, EFCC should start probing them,” he opined.

Continuing, Mojeed, who was a former speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, said, “With the economic crisis we are currently facing, Emefiele shouldn’t have summoned the audacity to contest for the presidency. When I was in the House of Representatives, I opposed his appointment but people allowed him to stay despite the downward trend of the Dollar rate to naira because they were making money from it.

Mojeed did not spare Nigerians, either. According to him, it was because citizens were naive and gullible, and sold their votes, politicians could use stolen funds to sway them for the votes, hence the continuation of the misgovernment.

“I won’t blame all these people aspiring to lead the country. I will only blame the average Nigerians whom people will throw crumbs at from billions stolen from them and they will stand on their heads to start thumb printing for them. The society is paying dearly for the misgovernment because people have been mortgaging their own future. They should desist from taking money to vote. They should assess candidates on the basis of what they have been able to perform in office,’’ he said.

Also speaking, a civil rights activist, Ayo Ologun, charged President Buhari to be swift in replacing the ministers and other public officials who had resigned their appointments to contest elections.

In his words, “The gale of resignation from President Buhari’s administration is not unexpected because apart from the legal dimension, morally speaking, anybody who has gotten to that level of national service should know that it’s out of place for them to still aspire to remain in office. One would wonder why a plethora of serving ministers and serving heads of agencies want to contest. For me, it amounts to greed. Many of them know that they won’t be president, because only one person would succeed the president after all. So, many of them know they won’t make it.’’
Ologun further reiterated that greed was at the centre of many of the ambitions and stressed that the desire to want a place at the ‘negotiating table’ was the motivation spurring most of the candidates. He avowed that only the president himself knew who would succeed him.

“With the economic crisis we are currently facing, Emefiele shouldn’t have summoned the audacity to contest for the presidency. When I was in the House of Representatives, I opposed his appointment but people allowed him to stay despite the downward trend of the Dollar rate to naira because they were making money from it

“It (their ambition) is borne out of greed because many of them want a place at the negotiation table, and I can tell you that in this whole chess game, the only person who knows who to succeed him is probably Mr. President himself, especially as it concerns the flag bearer of the APC.

“I want to plead with the president, it’s not enough that they have asked them to resign as they have done, but we demand that people leaving that office be replaced. We still have almost a year to the end of the tenure, that’s 2023, those offices should not be left open or in the hands of the civil servants. Mr. The President should replace them immediately for the sake of office, because the person appointed would have some responsibilities to his constituents.’

He knocked former President Goodluck Jonathan for flirting with the idea of running for the office of President under the platform of the APC.

Ologun said that Jonathan’s action was “shameful.”

“For Jonathan, it amounts to shame or shamelessness on his part to want to contest under APC. This is the party that vilified him and called him all sorts of names and painted him black, and now the same people are welcoming him. For him and for those welcoming him, it’s a shame because I don’t know what he wants to campaign with. Would you say you admit faults, you admit failure and that the APC has done well and you want to continue or would you say that the APC has not done well and you want to continue from where you started from?”

Ologun also reminded Nigerians of the need to discard old hands who had failed the nation, insisting that it was time to try new hands. “Nigerians should realize that whoever has led us and has not been able to bring us out of the doldrums has no business going back to power. We should try new hands and faces and ensure that we don’t recycle the same failures we have experienced over the years,” he concluded.

“CBN"

The PDP and the APC are scheduled to hold delegate primaries this month ahead of the June 3, deadline for the submission of candidates by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

In both parties the primaries are expected to be keenly contested among the leading aspirants, partly due to the winner-take-all kind of politics played in Nigeria.

In the last few months, several leading politicians have publicly signified their interest to contest their party presidential ticket in the two major parties.

Although it is presumed that some of the aspirants are not serious about their ambition and are only in the race to negotiate their political future, no aspirant will go to bed and sleep on the assumption that other aspirants were featherweight contestants.

Observers also said that part of the reason the primaries would be a battle is the high cost of the nomination forms.

“What may likely raise the tempo of the contest at the primary level is the high cost of forms. Even the PDP where the form was sold for N40 Million, an aspirant losing such an amount of money would feel it for some days.

Even if the money did not come from their pockets, those who contributed the money for them were expecting that they would reap someday.

Then, in the APC, N100 million forms is not a joke, especially when there is no guarantee or promise of any form of refund in the event that an aspirant fails to clinch the ticket. So, it is going to be a serious battle,” Rufus Onye, a grassroots politician said.

The APC had fixed its presidential nomination and expression of interest forms at N100 million.

The expression of interest form for presidential aspirants is expected to go for N30 million while the nomination form is pegged at N70 million.

This, however, contrasts with the N40 million that the main opposition party, the PDP, is charging its presidential aspirants, comprising N35 million for nomination forms and N5 million for expression of interest forms.

In the PDP, there are 17 top politicians jostling for the ticket at the presidential primary slated for May 29.

Some of the aspirants are former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar; Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal; a United States-based medical doctor, Nwachukwu Anakwenze; Newspaper publisher, Dele Momodu; Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike; Investment Banker and Economist, Mohammed Hayatu-Deen; former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi; Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel and a Pharmacist, Sam Ohuabunwa.

Also in the APC, several notable politicians have declared interest in clinching the presidential ticket they are, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State; Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State; former Imo governor and senator, Rochas Okorocha, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, among others.

Voting at the primaries is expected to be done by delegates, an affair that has often witnessed moneybags politicians deploy funds to bribe or secure the votes of the delegates.