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ADELANI ADEPEGBA writes that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential primary turned to be a dollar bazaar as aspirants on the eve of the convention competed to woo delegates

The dollar rain at the Peoples Democratic Party presidential convention in Abuja on May 28 was not unexpected. The stakes were high, tension was fever-pitch. The 14 candidates were ready to deal. For the 764 delegates, the financial windfall was their reward from the transactional primary disguised as participatory democracy, and they were not disappointed. While addressing delegates, most of them paid no attention to the party’s manifesto and how they would rescue the country.

Among the presidential aspirants were a former vice president, state governors, ex-governors, former senate presidents, businessmen, and a publisher.

Atiku Abubakar, the perennial presidential contestant, did not leave anyone in doubt about his resolve to take the prize, regardless of the price. His camp has yet to deny reports that he doled out about $20,000 to each delegate to best his closest rival. He subsequently emerged the PDP candidate with 371 votes.

Atiku was believed to boast a huge war chest made possible in part by his stint in government. Even though,  he has been unable to deodorise or stamp off the foul smell of corruption allegations swirling around him.

Atiku’s closest challenger, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, came second with 237 votes. Like other contestants, the governor had toured various states to seek support from the delegates. With the swagger of an emperor who could do no wrong, Wike had written off other aspirants, even as he announced to anyone who cared to listen that he was the only person that could win the presidential poll for the opposition party.  Wike’s camp was said to have packaged $10,000 for each delegate in a desperate bid to clinch the coveted party ticket. On failing to achieve his dream, the governor, who stormed the MKO Abiola stadium with no fewer than 25 buses decorated with his campaign banners, quietly left the venue.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had, a few weeks ago, declared the Rivers State Accountant-General, Fubara Siminayi, and 58 others wanted for N435bn fraud, money laundering, misappropriation of public funds, and abuse of office. For those who may not know, Siminayi, who is Wike’s protégé, just clinched the PDP governorship ticket and may emerge the next Rivers governor in 2023.

Dollar rain drowns PDP presidential primary, creates bonanza for delegates

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ADELANI ADEPEGBA writes that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential primary turned to be a dollar bazaar as aspirants on the eve of the convention competed to woo delegates

The dollar rain at the Peoples Democratic Party presidential convention in Abuja on May 28 was not unexpected. The stakes were high, tension was fever-pitch. The 14 candidates were ready to deal. For the 764 delegates, the financial windfall was their reward from the transactional primary disguised as participatory democracy, and they were not disappointed. While addressing delegates, most of them paid no attention to the party’s manifesto and how they would rescue the country.

Among the presidential aspirants were a former vice president, state governors, ex-governors, former senate presidents, businessmen, and a publisher.

Atiku Abubakar, the perennial presidential contestant, did not leave anyone in doubt about his resolve to take the prize, regardless of the price. His camp has yet to deny reports that he doled out about $20,000 to each delegate to best his closest rival. He subsequently emerged the PDP candidate with 371 votes.

Atiku was believed to boast a huge war chest made possible in part by his stint in government. Even though,  he has been unable to deodorise or stamp off the foul smell of corruption allegations swirling around him.

Atiku’s closest challenger, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, came second with 237 votes. Like other contestants, the governor had toured various states to seek support from the delegates. With the swagger of an emperor who could do no wrong, Wike had written off other aspirants, even as he announced to anyone who cared to listen that he was the only person that could win the presidential poll for the opposition party.  Wike’s camp was said to have packaged $10,000 for each delegate in a desperate bid to clinch the coveted party ticket. On failing to achieve his dream, the governor, who stormed the MKO Abiola stadium with no fewer than 25 buses decorated with his campaign banners, quietly left the venue.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had, a few weeks ago, declared the Rivers State Accountant-General, Fubara Siminayi, and 58 others wanted for N435bn fraud, money laundering, misappropriation of public funds, and abuse of office. For those who may not know, Siminayi, who is Wike’s protégé, just clinched the PDP governorship ticket and may emerge the next Rivers governor in 2023.

A former Director-General, Nigeria Maritime and Safety Agency, Dakuku Peterside, alleged that Wike spent N30bn state funds on delegates during the PDP primary.

“Wike donated about N10bn of public funds in unsolicited charity to states, and about N20bn pursuing his ill-fated presidential bid,’’ the former federal lawmaker claimed.

However, the governor’s spokesperson, Kelvin Ebiri, dismissed the allegations as spurious.

Atiku’s spokesman, Paul Ibe, also denied that his principal bribed delegates, attributing his victory to “hard work and the unity speech.”

He stated, “I can tell you outright that it is false in its entirety, it is not true. Maybe you want to know why Atiku won; I would tell you. Atiku won because of his message, the agenda he has for Nigeria, about security, about unity and education, the economy and devolution of powers and all of that are encapsulated in what is known as the unity speech.

Saraki and Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom were also not left out of the zero sum game as they also allegedly wooed the delegates with their wallets. The only female in the race, Oliver Diana, and another contestant, Sam Ohuabunwa, scored one vote each; a former President of the Senate, Pius Anyim, scored 14 votes while Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, scored 20 votes. The other contestants – ex-governor Ayodele Fayose and Ovation Magazine publisher, Dele Momodu – got zero votes.Curiously, men of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission appeared at the scene in their red jackets looking for evidence of vote-buying and checking Ghana-must-go backs laden with ballot papers. Observers said the EFCC was merely playing to the gallery as they knew what to do if they were serious about tracing the thousands of greenbacks that exchanged hands before the voting exercise. Their appearance at the PDP convention was described as sheer buffoonery.

A spokesman for the EFCC, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, explained that the officials of the commission stormed the presidential primary elections to monitor delegates’ inducement and financial malpractices.”

However, delegates, who spoke on strict condition of anonymity, said the sharing of money took place at hotels and well-guarded locations.

“Some of the aspirants are serving governors. We were flown in from different states. Do you think it is at the venue that we will be given money? The EFCC are just jokers.

“They are even wearing uniforms. Why didn’t they wear mufti? I am sure they will not go to the APC primaries. The serious aspirants have reached out to us and have done the needful,” said a delegate from Lagos.

He stated, “States like Lagos, Osun, Kaduna and others that have no governor are the ones that are collecting money from all the aspirants. They can make as much as $30,000 from different aspirants because they are swing states.’’

Appalled by the monetisation of the process, one of the aspirants, Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, a former Managing Director of defunct FSB International Bank, withdrew from the race on Saturday morning.

A past President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Sam Ohuabunwa, observed that the delegates could not resist the $10,000, $15,000 and $20,000 offered to them by the ‘’four leading contestants,’’ during the presidential special convention. According to him, the effect of money was overwhelming in the choice made by delegates.

He added, “In the current dispensation, a few members of a party are involved in the determination of the fate of the aspirants. They now deal in and distribute major international currencies, especially the dollar.

A policy analyst, Charles Onunaiju, called for a rethink of the democratic process so that it could be value-driven and owned by the citizens.

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