*Questions only those who dolled out dollars can answer!
By John Alechenu, Abuja
The Presidential primary of the leading opposition Peoples Democratic Party has come and gone but the ripple effect of some actions taken by some of the major contenders for the ticket is still being felt at least by some of the 711 delegates.
The dollar rain at the convention is no longer news. However, there are questions only those who dolled out the dollars can answer. Were some delegates shortchanged? How com delegates from non PDP governed states appeared to have gotten more money than those whose governors were in Abuja?
Yes, those from non PDP states who dealt directly with the coordinators of the aspirants received more than those whose cash was passed through their governors. Did the governors shortchange some of these delegates or those they passed the money through did? These are the unanswered questions of the Presidential primary election last Saturday. Some delegates have not stopped telling their stories, many of them happy about the windfall and some grumbling audibly about getting less than others. It was a money show.
Saturday VANGUARD gathered that a number of delegates smiled home with amounts ranging from $10,000 to $40,000 each, depending on those who coordinated the disbursement of the funds and whether they came from PDP controlled states.
While some of the aspirants reportedly doled out $5,000 to each of the delegates, the leading contenders allegedly gave amounts ranging from $10,000 to $15,000.
While the frontline aspirants doled out funds to delegates across board, other aspirants were selective largely due to the fact that they lacked the resources to compete.
Multiple sources familiar with the development who spoke in confidence for fear of retribution while confirming the development noted that it was not an “unusual” practice but that this time around, the stakes were higher and the aspirants appeared “more desperate.”
One of the sources said, “Some of the delegates received about $30,000 to $40,000 when what they received from aspirants are put together. A lot of factors determined what eventually got to the delegates.
“Chief among which was whether or not delegates who were approached were from PDP controlled states or not. Those who were from none PDP controlled states received higher because the aspirants dealt with delegates either directly or with coordinators they had personal/political relationships with.
“In some states controlled by the party, some state chief executives appointed coordinators who in some cases either changed the dollars into Naira to give delegates or short changed them altogether.
“For example, in cases where $5,000 was earmarked per delegate, some coordinators simply changed $2,000 to $3,000 to Naira at the parallel market and handed to unsuspecting delegates.”
Another source said, “While a number of delegates smiled home with their booty it was not so for everyone. A delegate from one of the states in the South West who was visiting Abuja for the first time, collapsed on getting home.
“He discovered to his chagrin that he left a substantial part of his ‘earnings’ under his bed in the hotel room. He was in a quandary as to whether the funds could still be traced because he didn’t spend the night alone.”
A story was also told of another set of delegates who went to exchange their dollars for the local currency only to discover that some of it were fake.
Two of the aspirants, Mohammed Hayatu-Deen and Peter Obi, who pulled out of the race, alluded to the monitisation of the race as part of the reason for their decision to abandon the race mid-stream.
Another aspirant, Dele Momodu, who stayed on also made reference to what he called the “dollarization” of the contest and the fact that he would remain in the race till the end.
Obi, who is now the Presidential candidate of the Labour Party said, “Our current dysfunctional system rewards unearned income and conspicuous consumption; allows university lecturers to remain on strike for months; keeps our youths at home; and owes pensioners, who gave their patriotic sweat and their youthful energy to serve this country.
“The despicable contrast is that those responsible for the mess – those elected to take care of them – have abandoned the national currency and are living in opulence and like kings, spend dollars to buy delegates as well as houses all over the world. Meanwhile, they owe most workers, lecturers and retirees.”
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, emerged as Presidential candidate of the PDP with 371 votes beating his closest rival, Governor Nysome Wike, who garnered 237 votes.