â€¢ APC, PDP engage in counterblows over $1bn to fight insurgency
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Despite efforts of the reconciliation committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to appease defeated aspirants at its national convention held 10 days ago, one of the aspirants for the chairmanship post, Prof. Taoheed Adedoja, has filed a suit at an Abuja Federal High Court challenging the outcome of the elective convention, which saw the emergence of Uche Secondus as the national chairman of the party.
Adedoja, a former Minister of Youth and Sports, was one of the four chairmanship aspirants who eventually stood for the election after five others withdrew from the race.
He, however, scored no vote at the election.
At a press conference in Abuja Monday, the aspirant said the declaration of a zero score credited to him by PDP had embarrassed and maligned him â€œand brought great ridiculeâ€ to his political career built over 14 years.
Last week, another group led by an aggrieved aspirant for the office of the National Organising Secretary (NOS), Dr. Godwin Duru, also questioned the conduct of the convention and gave the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) a seven-day ultimatum to convene a meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC), failing which they would release the â€œreal resultsâ€ of the convention and form a parallel National Working Committee of the PDP.
While objecting to the result, Duru had said: â€œThe one they have now, which they manipulated, is not the real result. We have our own result, which is the real result that came out of the convention, which they refused to call.
â€œBut when the time comes, after the expiration of the seven days we gave as ultimatum, we will announce the real results.â€
In suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1225/2017 filed on Adedojaâ€™s behalf by Messers Rickey Tarfa & Co., the aspirant claimed that his name was wrongly spelt as â€œTaoheed Oladojaâ€ thereby misleading delegates and robbing him of victory at the convention.
He said when he observed the anomaly, he and his agent reported the error to the relevant officials in charge of the convention but no remedy was made.
Angered by the outcome of the chairmanship election for which he got no vote, he said among his prayers was to declare the election for the post of chairman of the PDP held at the Eagle Square, Abuja on December 9, null and void.
â€œPray the court declares as null and void any document submitted by PDP or by the purported occupier of the position of the national chairman to INEC.
â€œPray the court for the cancellation of the national chairmanship election held on Saturday, December 9 at the Eagle Square.
â€œPray the court to order the conduct of another elective national convention for the election of national chairman within 30 days of nullification of the elective national convention held on December 9,â€ he said in his prayer to the court
Adedoja further asked the court for an order restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from recognising Secondus as the national chairman of the PDP on the grounds that the election where Secondus was declared chairman of PDP, he was unlawfully excluded from the list of contestants for the position of chairman of the party.
He held that his exclusion was a flagrant violation of the Electoral Act, the constitution of the PDP, the guidelines for the conduct of the national convention and the Constitution of the country.
He said the defendants in the case, including the chairman of the convention committee of the PDP, Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, the secretary, and new national chairman, Secondus, had been appropriately served.
â€œI have suffered psychological trauma as a result of the public ridicule the election result has caused me, my family members, friends and associates.
â€œMy lawyers are demanding for appropriate compensation for damages, ridicule, embarrassment and disrepute brought to my name as a result of my wilful exclusion from participating in the election resulting in the zero score credited to my name which is now in the public domain,â€ he added.
When asked if he had been contacted by the PDP reconciliation committee headed by the Bayelsa State Governor Henry Seriake Dickson, a visibly angry Adedoja said the committee had reached out to him to verify the date they were supposed to meet, but that after giving them a date, they failed to show up.
APC, PDP in Counterpunching
But even as the PDP was yet to come to terms with the problems brewing from within, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Monday responded to the criticism of the main opposition party over the approval given by the state governors last week to President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) to fight the insurgency in the North-east, saying that the president would not misappropriate the funds.
The PDP at the weekend had challenged the Buhari-led administration to explain to Nigerians why it still needed the $1 billion to fight Boko Haram after it had claimed that the terror group had been â€œtechnically defeatedâ€.
The main opposition party had described as inexcusable moves by the APC federal government to divert attention from its attempt to pilfer $1 billion from the ECA to finance partisan activities targeted at the 2019 elections.
But in its reaction Monday, APC said the allegations by the PDP that the real purpose of the said $1 billion was to fund its presidential campaign ahead of 2019 was â€œpreposterous, baseless and ridiculousâ€.
A statement issued by APC spokesman, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said PDPâ€™s fears may have arisen from a similar situation when as a party in power it diverted monies meant for weapons into the funding of political campaigns.
â€œThey have not realised that it is a new day and President Muhammadu Buhari will not play politics with money meant to protect the lives of innocent Nigerians or allow anyone to engage in such brigandage that Nigerians suffered under the PDP,â€ APC said.
Elaborating on the process that led to the approval for the withdrawal of the funds from the ECA, APC said the Nigeria Governorsâ€™ Forum (NGF) that took the decision has 11 PDP governors as its members.
It said more than one-third of the NGF is made up of members of other parties other than the APC, adding that â€œgovernors who are not members of our party would not have supported the decision to approve funds that were ostensibly meant to fund another partyâ€.
â€œIn essence, the PDP is by this allegation accusing their governors of disloyalty or suggesting that they were bewitched into supporting the decision. It is that ridiculous!
â€œHowever, we can understand why it is easy for PDP to arrive at its ludicrous allegation. A similar approval in excess of $2 billion was granted to the PDP government when they were in power.
â€œThey knew what they did with the money. It is a classic case of a serial killer who sees even a table knife as a murder weapon.
â€œAnother reason that the PDP has given for opposing the approval was that the federal government had claimed that Boko Haram has been technically defeated.
â€œThe military authorities have done enough to explain the need for the money, we therefore find no need to repeat the arguments.
â€œIt appears however that the PDP does not understand that winning the peace is as important as winning the war. There is therefore no contradiction in saying that Boko Haram is technically defeated and saying that more weapons and training are needed for our military and the military of neighbouring countries whose co-operation is necessary to finally rid our countries of the menace of Boko Haram.
â€œWe conclude by saying that we understand the pressure that the PDP is facing to justify its role as an opposition party, but they need to be reminded that opposition is not the same as opposing everything, including those things that are critical to the national interest,â€ the ruling party stated.
It said that it expected the PDP to play its part in ensuring that the money or any public money at all is used for the purpose for which it is intended.
In this case, APC said what the PDP should simply do is to ensure that their 11 governors demand accountability for the money that they have joined in approving.
â€œThe twin principle of accountability and probity are fundamental to APC. If the PDP in their latest reincarnation now considers these principles important, we are happy for them and we welcome them.
â€œIt appears however that PDPâ€™s interpretation of its role is to oppose everything even before they had the opportunity to understand it.
â€œThey have remained embittered over what they thought APC did to them as an opposition party and are therefore seized by an obsession to revenge.
â€œIn essence, they are primarily driven by vendetta rather than considered national interest,â€ it said.
Other than the opposition expressed by the PDP to the approval given to Buhari to withdraw $1 billion from the ECA, Governors Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State and Nyesom Wike of River State, both of the PDP, have expressed their opposition to the decision.
But in a swift response to APCâ€™s statement, the PDP said Monday night that no amount of finger pointing by the APC could justify the fraudulent attempt by the federal government to withdraw $1 billion from the ECA to finance alleged partisan activities.
The PDP said APCâ€™s arguments was merely diversionary and lame, adding that the attempt to claim that 11 PDP governors were part of the approval in a meeting superintended and eminently directed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo was merely begging the question.
PDP spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan said in a statement that the ruling party was in the habit of painting a â€œholier than thou picture of itself whereas the whole world knows it reeks of corruptionâ€.
â€œThe truth remains that the APC government has been caught in the act and no amount of diversionary finger pointing will detract from the fact that it tried to use the fight against the insurgents as a ruse to secure the money, which they have arranged to spend on extraneous sub-heads including partisan activities.
â€œIt is a known fact that under this APC government, monies meant for insurgency-related issues in the North-east have been diverted and that the only reasons the culprits have not been prosecuted is that they enjoy the cover of APC government.
â€œNigerians have not forgotten how leading members of the APC diverted funds and sold items meant for insurgency-related issues including relief items for internally displaced persons (IDP) in the North-east.
â€œHow can the APC point accusing fingers when Nigerians are all aware of the heinous diversion of N5 billion meant for the IDPs under the Presidential Initiative on the North-east, for which the Senate mounted a stiff investigation, leading to the indictment of officials of the APC government?
â€œWhat has the APC to say to the open indictment of their former SGF over the atrocious diversion of N500 million meant for IDP activities in the North-east?
â€œNigerians have equally not forgotten the motion by Senator Baba Kaka Garba from Borno Central, who last year unveiled how some individuals known to have connections with the APC fraudulently cornered N1.2 billion from the federal government under the guise of supplying items to IDPs, only for the money to be diverted for other purposes, which we know are related to APC interests,â€ the PDP said.
The PDP observed that Nigerians on a daily basis are now counting the exit day for the APC-led federal government and no amount of propaganda will save the ruling party from the doomsday.