More controversy trails PDP’s N122m cash refund
The immediate past national publicity secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said yesterday that there was nothing unusual in the payment of various sums into the accounts of members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) allegedly by the PDP hierarchy.
The payments blown into the open by The Nation has forced some of the beneficiaries, including the Deputy National Chairman, South, Taofeek Arapaja; National Vice Chairman, South-South, Dan Osi Orbih; National Women Leader, Stella Effah-Atoe and National Vice Chairman, South-West, Olasoji Adagunodo, to refund the sums.
Arapaja, for instance, claimed he was unaware of the payment until he read the newspaper publication on account of which he checked his balance with his bank.
The party had said, in response to the newspaper report, that the payments were housing allowances for the NWC members.
However, Ologbondiyan, speaking on Arise TV yesterday, said he found it “totally strange” that the officials claimed not to know the purpose of the money.Transport and housing allowances, according to him, are entitlements of members of the NWC.
He said: “The founders of the PDP created what is known as the establishment profile of the party. And this establishment rule contains the structure of the party and what members can do and cannot do. It is a body of rules guiding the party outside the constitution.”
It is also good to understand that party leaders, who are officers of the party, have no salaries. Their entitlement is in allowances. I know there are housing and transportation allowances.
“Based on my experience, when you assume office as a member of NWC, you must submit your account number to the party’s finance directorate. So whenever your entitlements are ready, they will be paid into your account.
“It is totally strange that any officer of the party will come out and say money was paid into my account and I do not know how the money was paid and the purpose.
“There is no way this issue would not be debated in the NWC with minutes taken. The money is legitimately earned. It is totally strange that people are talking about money legitimately earned as if it was a bribe.”
Ologbondiyan had a supporter in Reno Omokri, a former aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, who said on Twitter that “There is nothing new or illegal about the payments. APC also makes such payments!”
But the spokesman for the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council, Mr. Fesutus Keyamo (SAN), in a tweet of his own taunted the opposition party, saying: “Look at the party that wants to rescue Nigeria. A leopard cannot change its skin! Nigerians have since left Egypt. They can never go back to the era of PDP!”
The Nation had reported that some NWC members were paid N28 million each to douse the row over the whereabouts of the over N10 billion realised from the sale of nomination forms by those seeking the PDP tickets for the 2023 elections.
In a September 29, 2022 letter to Ayu, Arapaja said he decided to return his share of N36 million because he did not know what it was meant for.
He said he read an alleged “malicious story” that members of the NWC were “offered humongous amount of money to silent (sic) us over an allegation of financial misappropriation to the tune of N15 billion.”
He said: “This led me to browse through my various alerts and I discovered a transfer of N36 million from the party.
“I have my reservation about this money transferred into my account and for personal reasons wish to return it accordingly.”
Alluding to the same story, Orbih, in a separate letter to Ayu, said: “To my shock and surprise, it has been confirmed to me by my bank that the sum of N28,800,000 has been credited to my account by the party.
“I hereby notify you of my decision to pay back the money to the party’s account.”