Reporter Sacked, Others’ Salaries Stopped over APC’s N12.9m Advert Debt

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Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

Some of the journalists covering the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) are in for a tough period following the refusal of the party to pay the N12.9 million debt to some media houses.

The refusal of the party to pay the advert debt has led to the sack of one of the reporters covering the party, while the salaries of others have been stopped since January.

The salaries of the affected journalists have been stopped as part of measures to offset the advert debt of the ruling party.

The said advert, it was gathered, was placed by the former National Working Committee (NWC) of the party led by Adams Oshiomhole in the build up to the Edo state governorship election last year.

The party placed the advert which contained the credentials of Edo state Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, to justify the reasons why he was denied the party’s second term ticket.

Following the sack of the Oshiomhole-led NWC, the National Caretaker Committee-led by the Governor of Yobe state, Mai Mala Buni came on board, but all entreaties to ensure that the party pays the debt proved abortive.

While the Media and Publicity department of the party has raised a memo for the money to be paid, the process was allegedly thwarted by some staff of the party.

One of the affected journalists who pleaded anonymity said, with his salary stopped by his organisation, he finds it difficult making ends meet due to the present harsh economic realities.

He said: “Because of the refusal of the APC to pay the advert debt, my office thought I wasn’t pushing hard for the money to be paid. It was as a result of that they stopped my salary. I have not been paid since January and you know the implication of that on a man that has a family to look after.”

It was further gathered that when the Media and Publicity Department of the APC appeared powerless to ensure the money was paid, the affected journalists started pushing for the payment through the National Secretary of the party, Sen. John Akpanudoedehe, who had on three different occasions signed the memo raised and forwarded it to Buni.

Though, nothing was heard of the memo until recently when the Secretary minuted Buni about it, advising that the money be paid in two tranches.

In spite of his effort to get the money paid, it was gathered that one of Buni’s Personal Assistants, said that the money was now a bad debt and as such could not be paid by the party.

It was further gathered that the Personal Assistant who is regarded as the most powerful person in Buni’s ‘kichen cabinet’ was reminded by the affected journalists that the Caretaker committee also met advert debt of lawyers representing the party at various courts, running to millions of naira which was later paid by the Buni-led committee.

Another journalist affected by the advert debt said, “We don’t even know if we are making headway or not. Buni’s Personal Assistant has made sure that the money is not paid. He insisted that the money was a bad debt. The reason why he has refused to allow the file to get to Buni was because of his personal interest. He is the major stumbling block stopping the payment.”

The reporter, however, added that while economic hardship was taking its toll on the affected reporters, they were still not sure when the party would pay the advert debt it incurred.