Indications have emerged that the 22 governors on the platform of the governing All Progressives Congress will play major roles in raising campaign funds for the party’s presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
This is as some members of the Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Council blamed governors on the party’s platform for not releasing funds for the campaigns of its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
Also, the Labour Party said it would rely on donations from supporters and well-meaning Nigerians for its campaign funds. It however said it would not spend huge funds for its campaigns.
Many Nigerians had queried how political parties would raise funds for their campaigns. There have also been insinuations that the two major parties, APC and PDP, will rely on their governors.
Sunday PUNCH asked some of the parties how they intend to raise their campaign funds, bearing in mind that the Electoral Act, 2022 pegged the maximum election expenses to be incurred by a presidential candidate at N5bn.
Already, opposition parties have accused the governing party of stashing away public funds for the election, while the APC in turn accused the PDP of corruption.
The Director of Media and Publicity for the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Bayo Onanuga, denied allegations that the party was relying on stolen funds for its campaigns.
In an interview with one of our correspondents, Onanuga disclosed that aside from the funds raised internally, the party structured its campaign funding in a way that governors hosting each event would foot the bills.
He said this would be in addition to targeted donations from former governors, ranking National Assembly members and influential members of the campaign council.
He stated, “The campaign council has been given some money for its activities. We have 22 APC governors and many of the campaign finances are being handled directly by the governors.”
He said all APC governors were in full support of the candidate.
‘Not taxpayers’ money’
Onanuga noted, “We have so far conducted town hall meetings in Nasarawa, Niger and Lagos states. I can tell you that the respective governors funded the activities, including the billboards for the event. Governors are even footing the bills for TV advertisements and radio jingles. As the ruling party, we have an advantage over others.”
When asked how the governors would support the party without misappropriating or diverting state funds, he said, “The money the governors are spending has nothing to do with taxpayers’ money. They have a way of raising funds from friends.
“At the national level, we have a fundraising committee which is not raising money from the government but from people who believe in our principal and are willing to back him all the way. For instance, the composition of our campaign council comprises former governors, former senators and elder statesmen. They are also donors to the campaign.”
Similarly, the spokesperson for the campaign council, Festus Keyamo (SAN), dismissed claims that the APC was trying to intimidate other parties with stolen taxpayers’ money.
He stated, “These characters that are saying we are the ones trying to muscle them in are not saying the truth. They are the ones trying to do that. Remember the humongous amount the PDP stole in 16 years. We are still recovering that money to date.
“The kind of probity and austere life the President (Major General Muhammadu Buhari) lives is what obtains down the line. It appears we are the government in power, yet we are not in power. That is because we have a President who has repeatedly said nobody will dip their hands in the public purse to fund campaigns. At the appropriate time, as required by law, we will open our books to INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission).”
Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the Labour Party Campaign Council, Yunusa Tanko, disagreed with the APC, saying the party, just like the PDP, had corrupt and overzealous leaders who intimidate the opposition. He noted that the Labour Party could not match the APC in terms of campaign funding.
He said, “The APC cannot deceive us that Nigerians will willingly donate to them. No. They are the ones stashing away government’s funds and using state-owned media and billboards. We have seen their bullion vans here and there. Peter Obi cannot be accused of doing the same.
“We won’t engage in heavy spending like these other people in APC who have stolen Nigerian people’s money. We will limit our campaigns and funding to our capacity. We are only going to match them with our little resources so that the campaign won’t be starved of funds. That is how things are done all over the world, except in cases where you have crowd-funding.”
PDP in dilemma
There are concerns in the PDP over the seeming paucity of funds to prosecute its campaigns across the country. This is said to be compounded by the five governors who have boycotted the activities of the party. They include Governors Nyesom Wike, Seyi Makinde, Okezie Ikpeazu, Samuel Ortom and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Rivers, Oyo, Abia, Benue and Enugu states respectively.
A member of the party’s National Executive Committee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, however said in contrast to insinuations that the presidential candidate did not release campaign funds, he was only being careful.
The NEC member, who served in the Uche Secondus-led National Working Committee, told Sunday PUNCH that Atiku was being guided by his experience in 2019.
He said, “Atiku was the presidential candidate of the party in 2019. He knew everything that happened; the disbursement of monies to state chapters, support groups and all that. I think he is being strategic now.”
When asked how the party hopes to fund the campaign, the PDP chieftain added, “That is part of the problem. During consultations, the then aspirant was said to have boasted that the money to run the campaigns was not a problem. Some of our governors are reluctant to make contributions but some have shown support.
“Also, the governors who pulled out of the council have not shown any financial commitment to the campaign but there is a chance this will change if the party succeeds in reconciling with them.”
Meanwhile, an Atiku loyalist and Deputy National Youth Leader of the party, Timothy Osadolor, praised the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, for supporting the state chapter of the party.
Osadolor dismissed insinuations that Obaseki’s support was to spite the party’s National Vice Chairman (South-South), Dan Orbih, and Wike, both of whom are at loggerheads with Atiku.
He added, “Those who know Governor Obaseki even when he was in the other party know that he has always been a party man. He believes that whatever role you are given, you either do it 100 per cent or you don’t do it all. While he was in the other party, he even encouraged people to source money to run the party.”
He said the governor’s leadership style had motivated party chieftains to make donations in cash and kind to the party.
Osadolor added, “Atiku has never told anyone that he needs money from anybody. He is prepared to make sure there is no scarcity of funds.
“He has not done fundraising and he has not asked anybody for money but that does not mean that if people make contributions, they won’t be welcome on board.”
Also, a spokesperson for the campaign council, Charles Aniagwu, said reports of inadequate funding were baseless because “individuals have keyed into this campaign. It is not about the presidential candidate now. Funding is coming from stakeholders, individuals and groups.”
The Chairman of the Presidential Campaign Council and Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, had restated his commitment to the campaigns.
In a related development, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, Justice Peter Umeadi, has denied allegations that the party is starved of funds ahead of the presidential election.
In a statement on Friday, the Head, Political and Media Strategy, Umeadi–Mohammed C. C. Campaign Office, Anambra State Chapter, IfeanyiChukwu Afuba, dismissed rumours that the alleged non-financial commitment of Anambra State Governor, Chukwuma Soludo, to the electioneering had left the candidate demoralised and stalled the party’s campaign.
Afuba dissociated APGA and the candidate from the report, adding, “The publication can only be described as baseless, speculative and fictitious. This is obvious from the lack of attribution or any identifiable sources for the political thriller.
“APGA is on course with our message of a new Nigeria built on justice, fairness, frugal management of resources, gender and youth inclusiveness and federalist principles resonating with people across the country.”