The event expectedly was well-attended by, especially, those who enjoy some patronage from the present government. In the end, over N21billion was realized. Again and expectedly so, reactions trailed the staggering amount realized and the circumstances surrounding the fund raising.
Initially, the event that held at the Banquet Hall of the State House on Saturday December 20, 2014, was publicised as a gathering to raise funds for President Jonathan to execute his re-election campaign for next month’s polls; but, when the heat became unbearable, the PDP made a u-turn and ‘incorporated’ other intents to the earlier announced one. A section of the media reported the excitement of an unnamed PDP chieftain saying that with the money gathered, they will undertake the “most explosive and aggressive campaign.”
However, last Monday, chairman of the fund raising committee, who announced a donation of N5billion on behalf of himself and friends, Professor Jerry Gana, told journalists that the money was not solely for the presidential campaign, adding: “The money was not raised specifically for a particular candidate of the party; there are also other candidates for governorship, Senate, House of Representatives and other elective offices.
“Substantial part of the money is for the completion of the building project. There is a specific focus on the incomplete PDP permanent headquarters,” Gana said.
We view this as one of the numerous examples of the ruling party’s chicaneries. The sudden volte face of the PDP, in our opinion is an after thought. The colossal amount realized was in violation of the law. One such was the use of government resources to fund campaigns. Another is the N1 million ceiling of donation to fund political campaigns.
From the announcements made to invite people to the gathering, to the announcement of the money raked in, the purpose of the donations remained to feather the campaign pool of the incumbent president.
We are surprised by the bare faced attempt to circumvent the law. For Gana’s unconvincing explanation represents an attempt to make lawful what is clearly unlawful.
Another concern is the half hearted attempts by the electoral umpire, INEC to enforce the provision of the law after it has been brazenly breached, even before the latest afterthought from Gana. Even though Section 221 of the 1999 constitution approves that: “No association other than a political party shall…contribute to the funds of any political party or to the election expenses of any candidate at an election,” the Electoral Act 2010 as amended, has put a ceiling to that.
In section 91(2), the Act provides that “the maximum election expenses to be incurred by a candidate at a presidential election shall be N1billion.” Also, section 38(2) of Companies and Allied Matters Act prohibits companies from funding or donating gifts, property or money to any political party or association. But in this case, it was not only companies that donated to the campaign funds of the PDP, but the ones that benefitted from the coterie of ‘windfalls’ of the party’s government that created millionaires and billionaires as posited recently by the President himself.
If the Independent National Electoral Commission wants Nigerians to take them seriously on their oft-repeated pledge to hold free, fair and credible elections next month, then they must show that they are serious about it, by making sure that our electoral laws are complied with, and anyone who breaches them is appropriately sanctioned.