The national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, John Odigie-Oyegun, has faulted calls for investigation into the funding of the party’s 2015 presidential campaign, which brought President Muhammadu Buhari to power.
Mr. Buhari won the March 28 presidential election defeating Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party.
The funding of the presidential campaign of the PDP is currently under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The commission has since filed a case against the former National Security Adviser, Dasuki Sambo, for allegedly sharing $2.1 billion originally meant for arms purchase to fund the campaign of former President Goodluck Jonathan, to some party chieftains.
The immediate past Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke, is also being probed by the anti-graft agency for allegedly distributing $115 million during the election.
Speaking on “The Encounter with Constance Ikowu,” a programme on WEFM, Mr. Oyegun said that it was wrong to ask the EFCC to investigate the sources of funding for the APC campaign because unlike the PDP, his party did not use public money to fund its presidential election.
He said, “You are comparing apples and grapes. It is the people’s money. You can’t use the money of the people to run parties and so the APC today is suffering from that basic correct policy decision.
“But campaign funds cannot come from the monies that belong to the generality of Nigerians.
“Individuals can donate, and companies can donate subject to limits that the law provides. We are not touching those. But where you take monies meant for positioning troops in the North East to fight against Boko Haram to fund parties (and) the most recent – when you take our crude, gave unregistered crude to exporters, repatriate the proceeds and use them to finance your political campaigns – that is wrong. That is impunity at its worst. So they are not comparable.”
Stating that what the PDP campaign funds being investigated was “just a tip of the iceberg,” the APC national chairman clarified that the Buhari-led APC administration was not probing the donations individual made to the PDP during the polls but the utilization of public funds.
“So don’t link it with the PDP because it has nothing to do with the PDP,” he stressed.
Mr. Oyegun said the administration was trying to lay down principles which must be followed by all with a view to removing impunity in governance.
He said, “We are laying down the principles that must be established in this nation. What is going on now is just a tip of the iceberg. There are certain basic principles we must establish in this nation.”
He said there were serving APC governors and ex-governors under investigation currently but not in connection with campaign funding as was the case of the PDP.
He however added that the Buhari administration would not spare any of the governors if they were found to have used public monies to fund campaigns.
“As at today, of course there are APC governors and ex governors that are under investigation, maybe not in respect or specifically campaign funds but there are,” Mr. Oyegun said.
“The basic principle is – impunity must be removed from the system and wherever the tree falls, so let it be!
“I am sure that if that happens, the kind of president that we have will look the other way. Normal process must take its course.”
On the demands for the arrest of Mr. Jonathan, the APC national chairman “I cannot speak for the government; I can speak for the party. Wherever the tree falls so be it. I don’t think it will get to that. What is important is that if you receive stolen goods…..”
Mr. Oyegun admitted that the party was in serious financial distress but that it was inappropriate to expect Mr. Buhari to bail it out of the challenge.
He explained that the ruling party had put a mechanism in place that would make every member to pay at least N100 monthly due.
According to him, when this was done the party could make between N10 million and N20 million monthly.
He said, “We came into office as part of change and as far as our political situation is concerned it means that party should not be funded from public funds and that is the reality.
“And so we are making members to pay. We have over 12 million registered members of the party and we have all had a system where everyone will pay at least N100 per month to legitimize their membership.
“If in our calculation, five of N10 million of these we manage to collect them, at the end of the day we have very little…”
Asked how the party would implement the decision to make it effective, Mr. Oyegun said it would deploy modern technology to do so.
“We are using the benefit of modern technology to accomplish that. You can do it either with a scratch card by just punching some of the things into your handset or you can go to the office where there is something that can approximate an ATM.”