By Miftaudeen Raji
The political movement of presidential candidate of Labour Party, Peter Obi which has received a boost from the Nigerian diaspora community has generated some controversy, particularly on the legality of raising an alleged sum of $150 million Diaspora donation for the candidate’s campaign for 2023.
But Obi denied receiving any donation from Nigerians in the Diaspora.
The Labour Party flag bearer, in a meeting with Nigerians in London, debunked the report, describing it as a mere speculation.
Against the backdrop, the diaspora donation has constituted a headache for Labour Party, Obi and his teaming supporters.
Here are some of the reasons why the controversial Diaspora donation became a big issue for the Obi movement.
The Electoral Law:
One of the major blockades to the Diaspora donation of the Obi movement is the provision of the Nigerian 2022 Electoral Act as amended, which prohibits candidates from accepting foreign donations to fund election campaigns.
The 1999 constitution (as amended) and the Electoral Act of 2022 have provisions for the role of INEC in the collection of annual statements of political parties, analysis of sources of funds and restrictions on campaign funds.
What the Electoral Law 2022 says
Section 225 (3)(a) of the 1999 constitution prohibits political parties from having assets or funds in foreign countries.
Section 225 (3) states that: “No political party shall — hold or possess any funds or other assets outside Nigeria; or be entitled to retain any funds or assets remitted or sent to it from outside Nigeria.
“Any funds or other assets remitted or sent to a political party from outside Nigeria shall be paid over or transferred to the commission within 21 days of its receipt with such information as the omission may require.”
Section 85 of the Electoral Act 2022 reechoes the provisions of section 225 of the 1999 constitution.
Section 85 states: “Any political party that – (a) holds or possesses any fund outside Nigeria in contravention of section 225 (3) (a) of the Constitution, commits an offence and shall on conviction forfeit the funds or assets purchased with such funds to the Commission and in addition may be liable to a fine of at least 5,000,000; or (b) retains any fund or other asset remitted to it from outside Nigeria in contravention of section 225 (3) (a) of the Constitution commits an offence and shall on conviction forfeit the funds or assets to the Commission and in addition may be liable to a fine of at least N5,000,000.”
The campaign team of Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party planned to raise funds from Nigerians in the diaspora and N100 billion from Nigeria in order to execute the February 25, 2023, presidential election.
But, moves by the campaign team to create a crowdfunding portal to raise $150 million from Obi’s supporters in the diaspora met with resistance from various groups and rights activists.
One of the political groups that resisted the moves was a support group named Tinubu-Shettima Connect. The group asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to disqualify Obi over the alleged donation. The Diaspora donation, according to the group, violates the Electoral Act.
The group also threatened to file a legal suit against Obi over the said diaspora donation.
In a similar vein, another group, which identifies as The Progressive Clan also kicked against the decision to raise funds from Nigerians in the diaspora, while asking INEC to intervene in the matter.
The group said, “To be clear, these acts are an affront to the sacred provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Electoral Act.
“They are unlawful and the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) must arrest illegalities immediately to assure Nigerians that the 2023 elections would not be influenced from outside in any form,” the group added.
Peter Obi’s rebuttal
Obi’s rebuttal finally put the matter to rest by debunking the report and describing the controversial diaspora donation as a mere speculation.
The Labour Party flag bearer also denied receiving $150m donation from Nigerians in the diaspora.
According to Obi, the aim of his consultations abroad was not for funds, but to ensure that Nigerians in the countries he visited were taking part in the election process.
He said: “Nobody has given me anything. That is speculation. What I need is not what they would give me.
“But what they would give Nigeria, because we need them to turn around Nigeria.
“This is the energy, the capacity that we need to turn around Nigeria. Every country that was turned around, was done by the diaspora.
“Even in the Bible, Joseph who left later came back to feed his people,” he said.