Sunday, January 31, 2016
Dasukigate and the limitation of money politics
In November 2015, news broke that the Office of National Security Adviser under the leadership of Col. Sambo Dasuki (Retd.) has been used as a conduit pipe to fund the failed re-election bid of President Goodluck Jonathan. It has been alleged that part of the sum of $2.1bn meant for the procurement of arms and ammunition to fight insurgency, particularly in North East Nigeria was funneled into the presidential campaign of former President Jonathan in the lead up to the 2015 General Elections. The Dasukigate otherwise known as Armsgate has thrown up many revelations. Aside the diversion of funds for election purpose, fraudulent arms contract deals have also been uncovered by the military audit panel set up by incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari to look into arms procurement in the last eight years.
A January 15, 2016 press statement issued by Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said a number of offences were outlined by the military panel established to audit the procurement of arms and equipment in the Armed Forces and Defence sector from 2007 to 2015 against 17 top military brass, both serving and retired, as well as against certain other non-military individuals and companies. Such breaches as identified by the Audit Committee included “non-specification of procurement costs, absence of contract agreements, award of contracts beyond authorised thresholds, transfer of public funds for unidentified purposes and general non-adherence to provisions of the Public Procurement Act.” It added that “the procurement processes were arbitrarily carried out and generally characterised by irregularities and fraud. In many cases, the procured items failed to meet the purposes they were procured for, especially the counter insurgency efforts in the North East.”
On the political angle, billions of Naira was also allegedly distributed by Col. Dasuki as National Security Adviser for political patronage. In his Statement of Witness/Accused Person reportedly filed in the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory and published in The Nation newspaper of December 14, 2015, the NSA purportedly admitted to have handed N10bn given to Peoples Democratic Party presidential primary convention delegates to former President Goodluck Jonathan’s Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs, Waripamowei Dudafa and the Aide-de-Camp. He reportedly said the money was given out by the two aides, on the directive of Dr. Jonathan. The ex-NSA was also alleged to have authorised the payment of N380m for further disbursement to members of the House of Representatives as campaign contribution.
The newspaper equally quoted the former NSA, now on trial for corruption, to have said that: “In respect of funds given to Amb. Bashir Yuguda between December 2014 and 2015, I authorised the payment of N1.5bn from the Office of the National Security Adviser for political campaign in the last elections. I remember paying DAAR Communications the sum of N2.120bn from ONSA for media activities for the Presidential Campaign 2015.”
Indeed, some of those who collected the monies have admitted. They include Chief Olu Falae, chairman of the Social Democratic Party who admitted to have collected N100m for his party to mobilise support for the re-election bid of President Jonathan. Former Governor Rashidi Ladoja of Oyo State who is a leader of Accord Party has also admitted receiving N100m on behalf of his party for similar purpose. The National Publicity Secretary of Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Olisa Metuh is also standing trial for collecting a sum of N400m from ONSA for undisclosed business. Even former PDP chairman, Haliru Bello and his son Abba Bello have been arraigned in court for collecting the sum of N300m from same source. Details of the fraudulent disbursements is still unraveling with several persons and companies already charged to court for collecting largess from the ONSA.
However, the most instructive lesson from all of these sordid details unfolding is the limit of money in ensuring electoral victory. It would be recalled that on December 20, 2014 ahead of the 2015 General Elections, PDP orgainsed a fundraising dinner where a princely sum of N21.3bn was garnered. This huge sum, we are told, are to be expended on the election campaign of former President Goodluck Jonathan as well as party administration. This is aside the supposed N12bn allegedly realised from sales of expression of interest and nomination forms from aspirants wanting to contest on the platform of PDP in 2015.
It is most unfortunate that with all these humongous resources deployed into the last general elections; PDP suffered its worst defeat in 16 years. The party not only lost the presidential seat to the hitherto opposition All Progressives Congress, it also lost its majority in the Senate, House of Representatives, governorship and the State Houses of Assembly.
A number of companies have also dragged the former ruling party to court for defaulting in paying for rendered services. For instance, The PUNCH of January 12, 2016 reported that an Abuja-based firm, Twinkle Nigeria Limited, has sued the Peoples Democratic Party and some members of the party’s 2015 presidential campaign committee for their alleged failure to pay a N350m fee for the job it executed for them. Earlier, a company, Silon Concepts Limited had sued the PDP and Ahmadu Ali before the High Court of the FCT last year for their alleged refusal to pay it an outstanding N70m balance of the cost of the services it rendered during the Jonathan campaign.
The misfortune of PDP in spite of the financial war chest it deployed to prosecuting the 2015 elections is a pointer to the fact that there are other variables beyond money that guaranteed electoral success. It will also be interesting to see the content of election expenses report of PDP to the Independent National Electoral Commission as stipulated in S. 92 (3) and election contributions report as specified in S. 93 (4) of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended.