Thursday, 11 October 2018

PDP presidential primary: Dollar rain and the C'river delegates experience

11 October 2018 | Ukorebi Esien

In the last couple of days, the Social Media have been awash allegations of vote- buying during the just-concluded PDP presidential primary held in Port Harcourt. Some described it as dollars-rain convention. 

Of particular interest is the publication in vanguardonline that; "A particular aspirant, who had taken part in a presidential primary before, was said to have first offered the delegates $2,500 each in exchange for votes.

"But when he heard that another aspirant offered the delegates $3000,he increased his own to $4000.

"Our correspondent however gathered that the second aspirant later offered same amount of $4000,an action that forced the man who offered $4000 to increase his own to $5000.

"Another aspirant was also said to have offered a mere $1000.''

Now let's fast-forward to Sunday evening. I was opportuned to meet with some delegates in an event on Sunday evening after their convention and in the usual habit of guys, I told them "da make una come buy us beer, una don collect enough dollars, $9,000 nobi beans". Their response was shocking as they denied being given $9,000 but one of them revealed that Atiku gave $1000 to Cross River State delegates. 

This got me thinking, why would Cross River delegates be given less as against what was reported in the media? Two things got to my mind. First I thought the media might have hyped the dollar rain in Port Harcourt, meaning the actual amount shared to delegates may not have been what was reported by the media. 

Secondly, I immediately recalled attending a meeting earlier this year on the auspices of People Democratic Movement, PDM, a group alledgly set up by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar even before the emergence of the PDP in the late 80's. In that meeting I recalled vividly one of the things said about Atiku was that he is not happy with Cross River State, because the state had never supported his ambition. 

Based on that our delegates were paid far less than what other states purportedly got. Perhaps Atiku was only being curtious considering his past experiences with Cross River delegates. Moreso, I had gotten an insider's gist that the state was rooting for Aminu Tambuwal. Therefore, it was  only logical to reason that Atiku may not have given Cross River State delegates water to drink with the same cup he gave to other states.

From the foregoing, it is quite unfortunate for anybody to have spurned up some fake information alleging that  one of the Atiku coordinators embezzled over N100m meant for state's delegates. I stated emphatically that there is no scintilla of truth in the said report. Rather it was intended to cause to cause rancour and disaffection within Atiku's presidential campaign team in the state.

However, I decided to painstakingly do more investigation into the matter and here are my findings:

1. That Atiku's campaign in Cross River State is not pivoted on a one man's sqaud. That is to say that one person (as alleged in some quarters) cannot cart away with hundreds of dollars and other members of the team will not raise an eyebrow, at a point I had to I wonder if the accuser really know what it means to cart away with over one hundred million Naira in a public place.? The Atiku campaign organization in Cross River State has the likes of Mr. Austine Ibok as it chairman, Dr. Betta Edu,  Dr. Donclaimz Enameh, Mr. Collins Ogar, Mr. P. J.  Ekunke, Hon. Bassey Ekefre.

2.  Upon further investigation, it was gathered that the Cross River campaign team succeeded in locking down over 30 delegates to vote for Atiku and a logistics provision was made for them by the Atiku Campaign Organization headed by Mr. Gbenga Daniel, but when Atiku through his national campaign team went to address Cross River delegates, it was discovered that almost all the entire delegates from the state were in that meeting and as such the already made provision for 30 persons couldn't have gone round for the over 100 delegates from the state. That was where it was agreed in the presence of Gbenga Daniels that the logistic arrangements earlier made for just a little over 30 persons should spread across the over 100 delegates from the state.  

In the light if the above, one can aver that whatever logistics was made for 30 persons will be reduced to accommodate the over 100 persons. 

Even some delegates and members of Atiku Campaign Organisation have attested to the fact that there was a subtle agreement amongst all to share the largesse across board contrary to speculation that it was diverted or embezzled as alleged 

Therefore the claims that some members of the PDP family who have earned themselves a name and have been recognized to lead Alhaji Atiku Abubakar's presidential campaign in the state had diverted funds or logistics arrangement meant for delegates is not just unimaginable but a clear case of unverified information that may unconsciously divide the PDP family as they set out to face their opponents in the forthcoming general elections. 

As one of my source right said, It may not be wrong to think that these set of persons spreading the rumours may be acting on a malicious script written out of jealousy and envy with an obsessed thought that they should have been the persons choosen to lead the Atiku campaign organization in the state and not the Austine Ibok led team. 

I, therefore, urge the PDP family and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar's presidential campaign Organization in the state to remain focused as they prepare for the forth coming general election, as I advise members of the public to disregard such news as it is malicious and not to the best interest of democracy and the PDP family. 

Ukorebi Esien writes for TDN