The ruling All Progressives Congress APC is currently in a financial mess following its inability to pay an advertisement debt of N12.9 million more than one year after some Newspaper houses published the said advertorials.
The centrespread advertorial, titled, “Report of the Screening Appeal Committee for Edo state Governor, Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki submitted Saturday 13th June 2020 to the National Working Committee NWC at the Party’s National Secretariat” was published on Friday, 19th June, 2020 in several newspapers.
The material was placed by the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC through the Publicity Directorate of the Party.
There was also a full page advertorial published on the same day showing the University of Ibadan degree certificate tendered to the screening appeal committee by Gov. Obaseki who had been disqualified from participating in the party’s Edo state Governorship primary election.
However, following a trouble-shooting emergency meeting of the National Executive Committee NEC of the party, the Oshiomhole-led NWC was sacked days later on June 25.
In its place, a Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Committee was then appointed, with Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State named as its Chairman. Mr Buni was for several years National Secretary of the APC until his election as governor in 2019.
The refusal of the party to pay the advert debt has however claimed its first casualty following the sack of one of the reporters covering the party.
Others are also facing several disciplinary measures, with two of them placed on half salary while another has had his salary completely stopped since January 2021 as part of measures to offset the debt of the governing party.
All efforts by the affected journalists to get the party to tread the path of honour by offsetting the debt have been met with a brick wall as an aide to Gov. Buni is said to be frustrating such moves.
It was gathered that the Media and Publicity department of the party has raised a memo for the money to be paid, the process was allegedly thwarted by the said aide.
One of the affected journalists who pleaded anonymity said, with his salary stopped by his organization, he finds it difficult to pay his bills as a husband and father.
He said;”As a result of the refusal of the APC to pay the advert debt, my office thought I wasn’t pushing hard for the money to be paid. It was as a result of that they stopped my salary. I have not been paid since January this year and you know the implication of that on a man that has a family to look after.”
It was further gathered that when the Media and Publicity Directorate of the APC appears powerless to ensure that the money is paid, the affected journalists started pushing for the payment through the National Secretary of the party, Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe who had on three different occasions signed the memo raised by the directorate and forwarded to the Chairman, Gov. Buni.
While Akpanudoedehe was said to have recommended that the party pays the debt in two installments, an aide to Gov. Buni was said to have opposed the recommendation, describing the money as a “bad debt” that cannot be paid.
However, when the aide was reminded by the affected journalists that the Caretaker Committee also met unpaid legal debts running into hundreds of million but which was later paid by the Buni-led committee, he kept mute.
Another journalist affected by the advert debt said, “We don’t even know if we are making headway or not. One of Gov. Buni’s personal assistants has made sure that the debt is not paid. He insisted that the money was a bad debt. He is the major stumbling block to the payment. He should know that nothing lasts forever and as a religious man, I know that all debts will be paid whether in this life or in the hereafter.”
He said the party is notorious for refusing to advert debts, recalling how the APC as an opposition party had in 2014 placed an advertorial in some Newspapers and refused to pay, save for the personal intervention of Mr Bolaji Abdullahi who became the spokesman of the party after it had assumed power in 2015.