Amah Baldwin in Enugu reports on the crisis rocking the APC over allegations of embezzlement if campaign funds
The last is yet to be heard of the crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress in Enugu State, with party chieftain and governorship candidate of the party in the April 11 poll, Mr Okey Ezea denying any knowledge of the alleged mission campaign fund. Few weeks before the general elections, the state chapter of the party was rocked by the allegations of missing N400million meant for the presidential campaign in the coal city state with leaders and followers washing their dirty linen in the public with allegation and counter allegation over the receipt, handling and distribution of party funds.
Mr. Ezea, has described as false allegations that he embezzled the N400m meant for the campaign of President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, in the state.
The alleged embezzlement has been cited as one of the reasons behind the party’s poor outing in the 2015 general elections in Enugu State.
The allegation led to a crisis in the Enugu State chapter of the APC even before the poll.
A school of thought within the party also believed the development led to the poor performance of the party.
Trying to wriggle out of the allegations, Ezea has forwarded to the APC National Chairman, Chief Odigie Oyegun, a prepared financial report, which detailed how funds made available to him for the campaigns were disbursed.
The report was titled ‘Financial report on monies disbursed through the office of the gubernatorial candidate – Bar.r Okey Ezea’.
Ezea made copies of the report available to journalists in his campaign office in Enugu during the week.
According to him, only a total sum of N133m from the APC was handled by his campaign organisation before, during and after the polls.
Giving a breakdown of the funds received by his campaign organisation, and how the sums were disbursed, Ezea explained that, as the leader of the party in Enugu State, he received the sum of N38m on January 8, 2015, for Buhari’s rally in Enugu on January 10, 2015.
According to him, N12m was already deducted at source for a live telecast of the rally on a private television channel.
Ezea added that the N38m was signed from a former governor of Anambra State, Sen. Chris Ngige.
He added that another N45.250m, also signed from Ngige, was collected by his campaign committee on January 11, 2015, as campaign support for the APC governorship, senatorial and House of Representatives candidates in Enugu State.
“As directed by His Excellency, Senator Chris Ngige, in writing,” the N45.250m was shared among the candidates, he said.
The sharing formula was 50 per cent for the governorship candidate, and 50 per cent for the National Assembly candidates, Ezea added.
He said the 50 per cent allocated to the National Assembly candidates was subsequently shared, “40 per cent to senatorial candidates, and 60 per cent to the House of Representatives candidates.”
Ezea added that another N50m was received from Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, through bank transfer.
He disclosed that, out of the N50m, the sum of N500,000 was given to each of the party’s 24 state assembly candidates – a total N12m.
In addition to that, the sum of N8.6m was budgeted for “tours and gifts” in the 260 wards in the state.
The balance, N29.4m, was subsequently disbursed as follows – presidential campaign council, 10 per cent, senatorial candidates, 25 per cent; House of Representatives candidates, 35 per cent, and governorship candidate, 30 per cent.
“From the foregoing, it becomes very clear that the total sum of money handled by the governorship candidate was the sum of N133m, all of which was disbursed to individuals and candidates who clearly signed for the respective sums, or the finance committee of the party in the state,” Ezea said.
The governorship candidate, who admitted that political parties do not disclose the money they spend on campaigns to the public, said he decided on the action because of the allegations being leveled against him.
Ezea went ahead to allege that some prominent members of the APC in Enugu State, who he refrained from naming, did not help the party’s cause during the elections.
“A lot of party members contributed to the downfall of the party in the state because while we were campaigning, some party members were busy going to Abuja to spread false information that we are not identifying with Buhari.
“They abandoned the role they should have played in their communities, where they were expected to get their people to vote for the party’s candidates,” Ezea said.
With his disclosure, it is now clear that money was received and disbursed, but the raging controversy deals with the amount involved. With Ezea’s revelation, the case is now in the court of the National leaders of the party who may have to wade into the matter to put the house of the party in order in the state.