N21bn not meant for Jonathan's campaign, says Gana

By The Citizen

Former Information Minister and Chairman Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Fund-raising Committee, Professor Jerry Gana has cleared the air on the controversial N21 billion  donated to the ruling party by individuals, serving governors and private consortium at a recent fund-raising event held  at the Presidential Villa in  Abuja.

Addressing newsmen yesterday when he led members of the party's  fund-raising committee to the abandoned site of the party's permanent site, Professor Gana said the purpose of the fund-raising  where over N21 billion was realised was to raise money for the completion of the party's permanent site and not for the Presidential campaign.

'This administration of the party under our able chairman resolved that we must complete this project so that we can move here and so part of the preparations for this year's campaign is for us to raise funds and I  had the honour of leading a very distinguished team of Nigerians to prepare for the fund raising.

'We raised about N21billion on that day and the purpose of this press conference is to say  that right from the start, we were raising money for the PDP and the project of the party, the documents and letters said so, the speeches confirmed it and during the day of the fund raising, in my own speech and the speech of the vice president, who happens to be an architect, there was a specific focus on this building that this is one project we want to complete.

' The vice-president  being an architect gave graphic details of where we were on this project and how we desired to go ahead and therefore, the central aim of the fund-raising is to empower the party to complete this building and other project.

'The second is of course, to empower the party to campaign for its candidate, not for the President alone but for others and the Presidential candidate has the right to raise fund for his campaign quietly.

'I am not the chairman of that fund raising team but I am sure the president will appoint somebody and I am sure they are already working hard and being a humble Nigerian,  he wants to do it quietly and people will donate to him, people who believe in his victory as the candidate of the PDP.

'So, we want to make it clear that the money raised was for the PDP and a substantial part of it will be for the completion of this building,' he stated.

The former Information Minister further disclosed that N10 billion was  the total sum needed for the completion of the party's permanent site.

'As already noted, we need over N10billion to conclude it and so, even if we raise and we hope that we are going to raise more, half of the money is already going to be for the building and other projects.

'So, we want to lay to rest all the permutations and the discussions and all what is going on in the media about we raising more than the law allows for our candidate, that is not the correct position.

' We set out to raise funds for PDP project and the committee worked so hard and we succeeded. The committee did much more than we expected.'

Commenting on next month's general elections, Professor Gana admonished politicians, to exercise restraint, as he noted that democracy could only thrive in an atmosphere of peace.

'Those who are thinking they will take over  from the PDP have to think again because PDP is ever ready and the elections for us is going to be free because we are democrats.

' Nigerians will decide who their leaders will be. I want to appeal to all our leaders both in PDP and in the other parties that as leaders, we must ensure peace and stability in the nation, we must not preach violence, we must not indicate violence, we must not make violence part of our political culture, democracy is the rule of the people, by the people and for the people. We should allow the people to choose freely.

'Nigerians are watching those who want to intimidate, those who want to force and leaders who feel, if it is not their way, then the whole thing should scatter.

'Nigerians are excellent decision makers and I am sure they will vote for someone with integrity and someone who desires peace for Nigeria,' he stated.

Representative of the construction firm handling the project, Bouygues Nigeria Limited, Engineer Beneth Osuala asssured Professor Gana that the project would be completed in twelve months.

It could be recalled that the main opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and eminent individuals have expressed concern over the event, which they noted was an infraction on the 2010 Electoral Act, (as amended).