Daily Trust reports that as presidential aspirants of both the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) scout for votes ahead of the primaries, delegates are making millions.
Thirty-eight aspirants are in the race for the presidential tickets of the two leading parties. While APC has 23, the PDP had cleared 15 aspirants to compete for its presidential ticket.
The fate of the 23 aspirants of the APC would be decided between May 30 and June1 by a total of 7,800 delegates selected from across the country. For the 15 PDP contenders, 3,700 delegates would vote to pick one among them as the party’s flag bearer between May 28 and 29 this year.
Before the D-day, the presidential aspirants have been reaching out to the delegates in their home states, showering various gifts on them especially cash, while trying to outdo each.
Reports from states showed that the delegates are making fortunes from the aspirants. A cross section of the delegates told this paper that it is their season to make money.
Daily Trust had last week exclusively reported how the mopping up of dollars by the aspirants ahead of the primaries, has compressed the naira further.
The key aspirants who have been moving across the country to woo APC delegates include Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Rotimi Amaechi and Kayode Fayemi. In the PDP, those who have been interfacing with the delegates from one state to the other include the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, Akwa Ibom Governor, Udom Emmanuel, former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi and a business mogul, Mohammed Hayatu -Deen.
Osinbajo in Kano, demands delegates’ account details
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday visited Kano State to meet with delegates of the APC.
The meeting, which was held at the Coronation Hall of the Government House was conducted behind closed doors as journalists were not granted access. A security official told journalists that the order was “from above”.
However, Daily Trust observed that after the accreditation of delegates, another official of the Osinbajo team was seen taking down the account details of the delegates.
One of the delegates was heard saying “It is not cash, it is alert”.
It was gathered that when Wike visited Kano, he donated a brand new car to the party leadership.
Gombe PDP chair gets car, delegates smile to bank
In Gombe State, four presidential aspirants from both the APC and the PDP have visited the state and interacted with the delegates.
In the APC, Osinbajo, Tinubu and Fayemi have visited the state, while in the PDP, Wike, Bala Mohammed, Tambuwal and Udom Emmanuel have seen the state delegates.
Wike was the first to visit in April, where he met with the party executives accompanied by former Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo.
A delegate, who craved anonymity, said Wike announced a donation of a brand new car to the state chairman of PDP.
Another delegate said each of the presidential aspirants gave a certain amount of money, which was shared to the delegates.
It was reported that when the trio of Mohammed, Tambuwal and Udom each of them gave money, which was equally distributed to the party officials and the delegates.
Also, in the APC, the trio of Osinbajo, Tinubu and Fayemi were said to have given money to the delegates, during their separates visit to the state.
Another delegate explained that the money being shared is just a gift pending the national convention.
Tinubu gives N60m, Amaechi N20 to Kaduna delegates
Many aspirants have besieged Kaduna to make big donations to delegates with the hope of swaying them to their side.
The Kaduna delegates said they feel like kings as presidential aspirants from Lagos and Abuja race to see them.
Within the APC, two major contenders, Tinubu and Amaechi have visited delegates and made huge donations. While Tinubu donated N60m, Amaechi had donated N20m to delegates.
From the PDP, Wike, Bala Mohammed, Saraki and other aspirants have visited. The delegates said no donations were made to them directly even though Wike had donated N200m to Internally Displaced Persons in Kaduna.
Delegates smile to banks in Benue
In Benue State, the delegates for the forthcoming primaries of APC and PDP are smiling to the bank.
Our correspondent gathered from some delegates of the two parties that the monies they were currently making from aspirants – presidential and governorship – had cushioned the effect of economic hardship on their families.
One of the delegates said, “We will enjoy the fortunes while it lasts.”
Though the APC presidential aspirants started trooping into the state on Tuesday with Tinubu pioneering the move, however as at the time of this story, it was not yet known how much the delegates would be getting.
However, Osinbajo was said to have sent his forerunners weeks back during which the delegates got N50, 000 each. Osinbajo is expected to visit the delegates in the state this week.
On the side of the PDP, two of the delegates in separate chats with our correspondent confirmed that they have been getting N250, 000 and above from presidential aspirants who have visited.
Our correspondent reports that Bala Mohammed, Saraki, Wike, Mohammed Hayatu-deen, Tambuwal and Atiku have visited the state.
Its bribery, dangerous for democracy – CSOs
Commenting on the development, the Director Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Idayat Hassan, said that Nigeria’s election is a money democracy thus money defines the democratic system.
According to her, it has been a norm for delegates’ votes to be bought in previous primaries and even the 1993 elections adjudged as the most credible in Nigeria’s history, witnessed huge vote-buying during primaries as delegates negotiated the money to vote for aspirants.
“In 2015 we saw how votes were sold between $2000 and $3000 during the APC primaries in Lagos with between 16 and 24 million dollars spent by the lead candidates.
“The PDP primaries for the 2019 elections were no different with votes sold between $2000 and $10,000 in Port Harcourt. The bribing of delegates is the most worrying phenomenon in the electoral corruption circle as it denies the right candidate the opportunity to contest for office.
“2023 may be the worse primaries as heavyweights jostle for few votes. There is so much work to do in the terms of enforcement and collective behavioural approach in stemming the role of money in politics,” she said.
Also reacting to the development, the Chairman, Partners for Electoral Reforms (PER), Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu, said that it is in the tradition of the dominant political parties to “commodify” their internal leadership recruitment.
“What may be happening currently is simply scaling up. Hardly any convention of the political parties since 1998 till date that wasn’t transactional, the delegates and the party officials are in a trade bazaar,” Nwagwu, also a lawyer said.
On his part, the Executive Director Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED), Dr Ibrahim Zikirullahi, said that the use of monies to induce delegates is a sinister precursor to the adoption of vote buying as the main strategy for mobilising votes in the 2023 general elections.
Also, the Chairman of the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) and Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Malam Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, said that the influx of money in politics is bad for democracy and the nation in general.
According to him, this goes to show that political actors are ready to influence the choice of the delegates.
Source: Daily Trust