- S91 (9): “No individual or other entity shall donate more than one million naira (1,000,000) to any candidate“
Deji Elumoye, Omololu Ogunmade, Onyebuchi Ezigbo and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
Contrary to the provision of Electoral Act 2010 as amended, which pegs individual and group contributions to election expenses of a candidate to N1million, a group, yesterday, bought the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential nomination forms for President Muhammadu Buhari for a hefty N45.5 million.
The group, Nigeria Consolidation Ambassadors Network, led by its National Coordinator, Mr. Sanusi Musa, presented a symbolic cheque for the huge sum to the National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja and picked up the forms on behalf of the president.
The group’s gesture, which was an apparent response to the president’s complaint that the forms were too expensive for him to purchase with his salary, may, however, turn sour as acceptance of the goodwill may land Buhari in trouble, THISDAY learnt last night.
According to lawyers THISDAY contacted, the group’s gesture offends S91 (9) of the Electoral Act which states, “No individual or other entity shall donate more than one million naira (1,000,000) to any candidate.”
By this provision, the lawyers said, the group is in contravention of the electoral law, warning that if the president accepts the forms he would be liable to the punishment stipulated in S91 (10) (a) of the Act.
It states, “A candidate who knowingly acts in contravention of this section commits an offence and on convictions shall be liable – (a) in case of presidential election to a maximum fine of N1,000,000.00 or imprisonment of 12 months or both.”
Buhari was said to have complained loudly that the expression of interest (N5million) and nomination (N40million) fees for the party’s presidential ticket for the 2019 general election, were too high for him, stating that his salary could not sustain the burden.
Speaking at the form purchasing ceremony wednesday, Musa said he and his colleagues decided to raise the money to support the president and exhibit the enormous goodwill Buhari has with the people.
With the group’s purchase of the form, the president becomes the first aspirant in the party to obtain the ruling party’s presidential nomination form.
The group, which THISDAY could not ascertain its legal status, as it could not be confirmed, at press time, if it is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), was specially received by the Oshiomhole, who led other National Working Committee (NWC), members to present the form to it.
Musa told Oshiomhole, “Although the president is not a multi-millionaire cash wise, he has millions of supporters who are always ready to come together to pay for his nomination form.”
His claim was perhaps a response to whispering speculation that the money might have come from a North-central governor, who had wanted to pay for the forms directly before he was advised to device other means in order to avoid any backlash from the public.
According Musa, the group embarked on the project based on the recognition that the president has started laying a good foundation for a better Nigeria and there is need to consolidate on the gains so far made.
He said, “We have no doubt that Mr. President has both in actions and words been working to lay a foundation for greater and prosperous nation that our generation and future generation will be proud of.
“Under his administration, Nigeria has become a country sought after for investments in the world; Nigeria has assumed its leadership role in not just Africa but the world.
“Today, Mr. Chairman, Nigeria’s moribund infrastructure is being revived. There is no state in Nigeria that does not have several major federal government infrastructure projects either completed or being, executed under President Buhari.
“It is for this reason Mr. Chairman, that we have decided to pool our meager resources together and purchase the expression of interest and nomination forms for President Buhari as he presents himself to our party members to be chosen as its candidate for the 2019 general election.”
Presidency to Atiku: Buhari Uncompromising, Not Power Drunk
In a related development, the presidency wednesday reacted to an allegation by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar that President Muhammadu Buhari is not only uncompromising but also a power drunk, “who will not be ready to leave power without a fight.”
In a swift reaction to the allegation, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, challenged Atiku to stop using the name of Buhari as a tool to get the presidential ticket of his party.
He insisted that whereas the “President is truly uncompromising, but only when it comes to looting the common patrimony of Nigerians, and squandering their riches.”
Arguing that the president is committed to the war against corruption without fear or favour, the presidential aide added that Buhari is equally resolute in ensuring that Nigeria is no longer a mono-product economy.
However, he said the claim that the president was drunk with power was untrue, saying instead, the president handles power with a sense of decency, adding that the ex-vice president’s choice of words did not portray him as a statesman.
While advising him to borrow a leaf from Vice President Yemi Osinbajo whom he said responded to his (Atiku) allegations against him (Osinbajo) like a statesman, Adesina said Atiku’s claim that the president would not leave power without a fight only showed that the former vice-president already saw defeat staring him in the face.
He said, “Power drunk? No! And being a man ‘who will not be ready to leave power without a fight’ Never! Not President Buhari, who has demonstrated in many ways that he is a committed democrat, though also a retired military general. He has no apologies about that. Through a sterling military career, he served Nigeria with his heart and might, before venturing into partisan politics.
“In many ways, President Buhari has wielded power with decency, and as a means of serving the people, rather than for personal ends. If there’s one person not intoxicated by power, it is President Buhari, and scores of millions of Nigerians know this. That is why they will invest him with power again next year, knowing that he won’t misuse or misapply what has been entrusted to him.
“Former VP Abubakar may want to borrow a leaf from the decorous language employed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, in answering his recent press statement on the restructuring debate. That is the hallmark of statesmen, and not crying wolf where none exists, which is what the allegation of being uncompromising and power drunk truly is.
“President Buhari is actuated by service to country, and nothing else. So, there couldn’t be anything like “not ready to leave power without a fight.”
“Indeed, the insinuation of a fight is the mindset of a man who is either undemocratic, or has seen defeat staring him, and his party, in the face. Let the former Vice President rest assured that there will be no ‘fight’ over power in Nigeria. Not under President Buhari’s watch. The people don’t want a fight. It is some political leaders we must beseech to eschew pugnacity, and mind their language.”
APC Challenges Saraki to Show Scorecard
Meanwhile, the APC has asked Senate President Bukola Saraki to prove to Nigerians his readiness to run for the presidency by pointing to his past achievements as governor of Kwara State.
In a statement by the acting National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yekini Nabene, the ruling party said while it welcomes Saraki to the race as it is his right to do so as a Nigerian Citizen, “there are, however, many issues that border on his integrity, antecedents, competence and capability to preside over the affairs of the country.”
It said the party was not unaware of reports that Saraki’s presidential declaration was his tactics to deflect attention from the deluge of issues he deals with particularly ahead of the 2019 General Elections especially the pressure to reconvene the National Assembly.
It also said that Saraki needed to contend with the fast shifting political order in Kwara State, among others. On Saraki’s antecedents, the party said it would align itself with the popular axiom, “By their fruits, we shall know them.”
It said, “By virtue of Saraki’s antecedents, he is an abysmal failure and is totally incompetent to offer himself as a candidate for leadership of Nigeria.
“Saraki was a two-term Governor of Kwara State and Senate president in the last three years. What were his performance records in these two assignments?”
Saraki Has No Credibility Problem, Says Aide
Saraki’s Media Adviser, Yusuph Olaniyonu, responded to the APC wednesday and said his boss had no credibility problem to resolve.
The Senate president’s spokesman in a statement in Abuja was emphatic that “Dr. Saraki does not have any credibility issues except the ones concocted by these putative demagogues to whom the Senate president has become a nightmare”.
He went further to ask, “What is APC’s business with an aspirant of another party?”
The truth, Olaniyonu posited, is that APC is scared stiff of the possibility of a Saraki candidacy, adding, “Fortunately, they have no role in deciding that.”
He further emphasised that his principal will not be distracted by “the antics of an upstart who lives in Abuja but waits to sign press statements composed for him from Lagos.”
Olaniyonu added, “When his masters show their face, we will debate all the issues they have raised and the ones they may wish to even concoct.”
Describing Nabena as a faceless person, Olaniyonu challenged him to a public debate on any independent television station.
He said, “Here is an opportunity for him to come out of his hiding and come on a national television to debate all the issues he has raised with one of the aides of the Senate president.
“We hope he will take up this challenge and stop behaving like a masquerade. He is free to choose any independent TV station of his choice.”