With the elections only about a week away and the outcome too close to call between President Goodluck Jonathan and Gen Muhammadu Buhari, presidential candidates of the PDP and the APC respectively, allegations of embezzlement and diversion of campaign funds are rife in the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation (PDPPCO).
Coordinators of some of President Jonathan’s campaign groups as well as state and zonal coordinators are taking steps to ensure that they do not lose out completely should the result go against their principal.
LEADERSHIP’s investigation in Abuja revealed that the coordinators, rather than use the money for campaigns, have been scouring the Abuja property market with dollars, and acquiring choice property.
The campaigners, it was gathered, rather than use the money for the purpose it was meant, have resorted to investing the money in property so that in the event that their candidate does not win, they would have something to fall back on.
Real estate agents privy to the development told LEADERSHIP that since the campaigns began, and particularly after the postponement of the elections, there had been an upswing in the number of persons looking to buy property, with most of them linked to the electioneering and offering to pay in dollars.
“That is what has been going on. The devaluation of the naira has caused a lull in the property market but the few clients who approach us to buy property are PDP men who have campaign money in their possession and they always pay in dollars,” Mark Odojo, a real estate agent said.
Another real estate agent said a coordinator of one of the campaign groups had given him a mandate to find a duplex for him in Gwarinpa area of Abuja before the presidential election and he had found one worth about N250million, a deal they were about to seal.
Earlier in the week, it was reported that a free-for-all broke out among some PDP officials in Ogun State following the failure of those entrusted with the campaign money to release same to campaign coordinators across the state. The campaign coordinators suspected foul play when the money which was to be shared among 708 of them was not, with those in charge telling them it was yet to be paid into a certain designated bank account.
Similarly, another report had it that a former governor deeply involved in President Jonathan’s re-election campaign, instead of deploying the campaign funds for the purpose, rather deposited it in a bank for it to yield interest and possibly remain there till after the election, after which it would be forgotten and he would hold on to it.
A source within the president’s campaign organisation said such funds were being used by those they were entrusted with as they pleased, adding that he was not surprised that some of them were buying up property in Abuja.
A member of the PDP, who confirmed this development to LEADERSHIP in Abuja, said President Jonathan was also aware of the situation and that was why he had personally taken charge of his campaign, especially in the northern and south-western parts of the country.
“Jonathan’s recent visits to states in the South West and in the North were necessitated upon the realisation that his campaign coordinators in those areas were not working, and that is why he moved in with so much money, especially to the South West, to be sure that, this time, the money gets to the traditional and opinion leaders it is meant for.
“The dependence on the campaign coordinators would have landed him in trouble in those areas,” the source, who pleaded anonymity as he was not permitted to speak on the issue, said.
Also reacting to allegations of embezzlement and diversion of campaign funds by states and zonal coordinators of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation (PDPPCO), a member of the campaign organisation, who preferred not to be named, confirmed that it had been observed at the headquarters that some state and zonal coordinators were not using funds for the purpose they were meant.
“State coordinators are responsible for mobilising and organising campaign rallies in their respective states while zonal coordinators do same for zonal campaigns, and when people from the headquarters attend such rallies, they take note of the lapses in planning.
“It has come to the knowledge of the campaign organisation that some coordinators have been telling party members that the money given to them is not sufficient to do what they expect of them, but this is not true. They have been given adequate funds.
“However, the matter cannot be handled now till after the election when the coordinators would be required to retire their spending. The focus right now is on the election,” he said.