Eighteen days to the commencement of presidential campaigns, the sources of funding of campaign activities by the leading candidates remain a mystery as they have refused to disclose how they will raise money to sell their programmes to the electorate.
According to the timetable of the Independent Electoral Commission, campaigns for next year’s presidential election will begin on Wednesday, September 28, 2022.
Presidential campaigns in the country usually involves a lot of logistics such as candidates and party officials travelling to all states capitals to address rallies, where they sell their manifestos, mobilisation of supporters to such rallies, purchasing vehicles, printing souvenirs like T-shirts and fez caps as well as posters, placing advertisements in newspapers, online media, TV and radio stations, among others.
Section 88 of the Electoral Act, 2022 pegs the amount a presidential candidate can spend to prosecute an election at N5bn, while the sum an individual or entity can donate to the candidate is N50m.
However, responding to inquiries from Saturday PUNCH on the sources of funding for the 2023 presidential poll, the Director of Media and Publicity for the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council, Bayo Onanuga, said the party candidate’s strategy of raising funds for his campaign was not for media consumption.
He said, “Why should we be discussing that on the pages of newspapers? I can’t say anything. You will have to wait until a fund raising committee has been set up. Our directorate of the presidential campaign council is not dealing with all issues.
“But when members of the fund raising committee come on board, you will know the right person to ask that question. Until that is done, we can’t tell you anything on how we hope to raise funds.”
Tinubu self-made –Shittu
Also, the Director-General of the Asiwaju Tinubu-Shettima Coalition for Good Governance, Adebayo Shittu, argued that the candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s plan to raise a budget for his presidential campaign should not be a subject of discourse or the business of the public.
The former Minister of Communications noted that his principal “is a self-made man who doesn’t need external funding for electioneering activities.”
Shittu said, “This was evident long before he became the governor of Lagos State when he supported human rights organisations and several freedom fighters all over. We will not allow anything illegal to be done in our name. Even if you go out to raise money, there are positions of the law, which have to be complied with. Anybody attempting to do that must first look at the law.
“Asiwaju has the resources and can equally count on many other men of goodwill for support. As you must have heard, several people have been coming out willingly to ask how they can help with his campaign.
“I have been running this campaign for a while now without demanding one kobo from anybody. It has been my brain, efforts and money all the way. I have equally seen several people doing the same across the country.”
Asked to confirm reports that some governors and National Assembly members might be levied for the campaign, Shittu maintained that it remained a speculation “in the figment of the imagination of those making it.”
Atiku’s campaign structure
Responding to questions about how the Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, would finance his election, the Atiku Campaign Council spokesperson, Daniel Bwala, said, “All the questions you are asking should be directed to INEC, because the law mandates us only to give INEC reports on the questions you are asking.”
Prodded further, he said, “Can a candidate fund an election without a campaign structure? Has the campaign structure been announced? When we get to the bridge, we will cross it; how do you want us to raise funds? I believe we will have to wait until the campaign structure is out; then, you can ask questions related to the campaign, because it is the campaign structure that sees our budget. To cross a bridge, you have to get to the bridge before you cross it.”
But the Media Adviser to Atiku, Paul Ibe, stated that his principal would raise money in line with the constitution.
Ibe said, “Atiku Abubakar will raise his campaign funds in line with the constitution of the country and the legal provision. He will not go outside of that; you can be sure of that.
“Atiku will not raise his funds in any shape or form that is illegal or in breach of the constitutional provision. He will comply with whatever provision the Electoral Act and the constitution spell out in raising funds for the campaign; whatever the law forbids, he will not do.”
The spokesman for the Peter Obi Support Network, Onwuasoanya Jones, said Nigerians had started donating to the ‘Obidient’ political movement to actualise the presidential ambition of the candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi.
He added that the candidate would not spend up to the N5bn stipulated by the Electoral Act for the 2023 election.
Asked how much the LP flag bearer was hoping to raise, Jones stated that his supporters were targeting N1bn.
He said, “Peter Obi is a wealthy man, with all sense of modesty. If he was interested in unbridled acquisition of wealth, he wouldn’t be looking for $150m or N1bn, which I learnt the various support groups have vowed to contribute to his campaign. He is far richer than that.
“For the records, Peter Obi is not involved in any fundraising and he won’t control how one naira of whatever is realised is spent. This is money being contributed by the numerous support groups championing his candidacy.”
When asked how much had been raised so far, the Obi campaigner noted, “I cannot tell you how much has been realised because I am not in charge of the collection and the groups are running their programmes independent of the POSN and the Peter Obi team, but I can tell you that if Nigerians need to contribute N100tn to make Peter Obi president, millions of Nigerians, including, the poorest of the poor, are ready to put their life savings to realise the Peter Obi presidency, because they see it as an investment in a better future for themselves and their children.”
Similarly, the Convener, Women for Peter Obi, Ebere Obiesie, said the campaign budget of the group was not ready on account of the ongoing aggressive grassroots mobilisation project.
She explained that there were different components of a political campaign budget, adding that the WPO had been careful to select expenses that were essential to help it run a successful campaign.
She said, “Hopefully, we should have an implementable comprehensive budget before the campaigns begin. We have assembled a smart team drawn from relevant units in our organisation – finance and accounts, planning and strategy, and mobilisation and logistics – that has developed a robust fundraising framework for our campaign and grassroots mobilisation. A number of strategies will be deployed for our fundraising.”
Obiesie stated that the WPO was considering the option of a special dinner to raise funds to boost Obi’s campaign, but would not levy governors and politicians.
She added, “Women are happy to contribute their N1,000, N3,000, N5,000, N20,000, N100,000 etc in this ‘Obidient’ movement. Never before has anyone witnessed this level of resolve and commitment by Nigerians, especially the women. It’s simply amazing.
“Nevertheless, we’re open to strategic partnership with credible aspirants on this all-important project of rescuing Nigeria from bad leadership and electing transformational leaders across the political leadership spectrum. The focus is on reaching as many voters as possible with our persuasive ‘from consumption to production’ message to get them to vote for our candidates.
“We have the WPO Diaspora across North America, the UK and Europe. They play different lots of roles, especially in data management, research, strategy and engagement with their friends and families in Nigeria. The WPO’s Diaspora support base is solid and growing.”
Group tackles Shittu
Shittu, however, said the LP presidential candidate would soon run into trouble with his obsession for raising funds from Nigerians in the Diaspora.
“If Obi tries it, he will be breaking the law. Any attempt to bring in money raised by people in the Diaspora to Nigeria will result in him burning his fingers. People who know him very well said he has no intention of bringing money down to Nigeria for any campaign. He just wants to con people and divert such resources to further invest in his businesses,” Shittu stated.
Responding to the allegation, Jones stated, “Adebayo Shittu is apparently jittery about Peter Obi’s unassailable acceptability across Nigeria. So, like others who are officials of their campaign setup, he will rather sling mud instead of looking for strategic ways to compete with the people’s President.
“Peter Obi was Chairman of Fidelity Bank at a time when a lot of attention was primed on the banking sector, and we know how many bank chief executives have been sent to jail over allegations of fraud and sharp practices, but not even a day was Peter Obi invited for interrogation by any agency in this country.
“Peter Obi was governor of Anambra State for eight years and on the platform of an opposition party. Not a dime of Anambra money was stolen or diverted. So, what will he be doing with money contributed by Nigerians abroad seeking a better country?”
Security during rallies
Meanwhile, the Force Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, has said the police would provide security during campaign rallies.
He stated that the presidential candidates were constitutionally entitled to police guards, adding that as ex-governors and a former Vice-President, they had rights to personal security.
Adejobi said, “The presidential candidates are by provisions of the law entitled to police security. Every former president, vice-president and governor has the right to have security around them. So, by virtue of their personalities and social status, they already have policemen and other security agents attached to them.
“There are also provisions to provide security for VVIPs, whether in politics, business or royalty, and the diplomatic corps, and for those who apply, the police will assess their applications and treat them accordingly.”