Shocking! Presidential Aspirants Are Broke
When the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the list of 18 presidential candidates for the April 2011 elections; little did Nigerians know that most of the candidates have serious financial challenges. Huhuonline.com can confirm that some of the candidates are financially handicapped and this is posing a big challenge to their ambitions.
Investigation revealed that the lack of financial strength on the part of these candidates and their political parties is causing a lot confusion among the party faithfuls. Apart from President Goodluck Jonathan, who they are now accusing of spending public funds on his campaign, it is believed that most of the other candidates only wanted to use the elections to keep themselves relevant in the scheme of things in the country during the next four years.
For example, the candidate of the of the Action Congress of Nigeria, Nuhu Ribadu, is said not to be happy with the way his campaign is being handled by the party. It was learnt that governors on the platform of the ACN have been mandated to contribute to the funding of his campaign.
But Ribadu wants to be given a free hand to operate. "This is one of the issues between him and the leader of the party, Bola Tinubu," a source within the party secretariat told Huhuonline.com.
According to the source, Ribadu wants to campaign with funds sourced from the citizens of the country as it is done in some of the Western world.
"This is because as a former chairman of an anti-corruption agency, he knows what it means to trample on public funds," they claimed.
Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change, who recently picked Pastor Tunde Bakare as his running mate weeks ago said he had no funds of his own to pursue his ambition.
According to him, after buying the form from his party, he was left with N1million. However, Huhuonline.com is aware that despite this financial challenge, he has the backings of some northerners who are funding his campaign. He is also said to be have chosen Bakare seen as a issue-based individual. For Ibrahim Shekarau of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), the major issue is that the major financier of the party, Harry Akande, has left the party. Akande left the ANPP immediately after the party's primaries few weeks ago. Prof. Pat Utomi who is contesting under the Social Democratic Mega Party (SDMP) has just scaled through a legal tussle which was aimed to force INEC not to recognise his party.
The major challenge now has to do with funding his campaign as his party is not known to have any financial heavyweight. Before now, the National Conscience Party (NCP), never fielded candidates for the presidency. But this year, it picked Dele Momodu after the latter's controversial exit from the Labour Party.
Sources at the NCP secretariat told Huhuonline.com this afternoon that one of the conditions given to Momodu for his acceptance by the party was that he would fund his campaign by himself.
"This is because the NCP does mot have the money. So Femi Falana, the Chairman of the party, told us when we came in that the party would not demand from us but that we must be ready to fund our campaign," an aide to Momodu told Huhuonline.com. Rev. Chris Okotie who is contesting on the platform of the Fresh Democratic Party (FDP) is taking his time according to John Chukwuma, a member of his church. It was however learnt that Okotie is being disturbed by funds as he remains the sole sponsor of his party with donations from his church members.
Speaking on the issue, a PDP member in Lagos, Taiwo Oluwdare, explained to Huhuonline.com that most of the candidates knew they had no sources of funds before they decided to vie for elections.
"You know most of them are not known. How many of the candidates do you know and how many do you think can sincerely win President Jonathan?
"The political parties do not have credible people to withstand the PDP flagbearer. Even if they have, where will the money come from? Do you think the money they get from INEC is even enough to sustain them and still help the campaign of their candidates?
"We understand that some of the candidates are trying to use the situation for negotiation with some of the bigger parties. Don't be surprised to hear later that some of them would step down for others later," he said.
Also a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Sanai Agunbiade, in his reaction, said it was disheartening that the "so-called progressives could not come together to wrestle power with the PDP, because of personal interests." He explained that as long as the opposition parties remained divided, they would not head anywhere.
When Huhuonline.com visited the Lagos office of the Labour Party, leaders of the party were not seen around. A party member, who did not want his name mentioned explained that the exit of Dele Momodu was a big blow to the party. He said the party is just trying to restrategise, "not to win the elections, but to make ourselves relevant for future elections in the country."