By SaharaReporters, New York
With some 72 hours to Saturday’s crucial presidential elections in Nigeria, presidential Goodluck Jonathan is deploying state resources far and wide in an unprecedented effort to buy every inch of support. A Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) official told SaharaReporters today that in the extraordinary spending spree, the Goodluck Jonathan team had mopped up some N107 billion in funds from the Nigerian economy.
Much of the monies is going to the northern parts of Nigeria where the campaign has handed over N2 billion to each key state governors and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) officials to capture the north for Jonathan.
A CNN report today validates what SaharaReporters has repeatedly revealed about Jonathan’s lackluster campaigns in terms of the sparse audiences in his rallies despite millions of Naira consistently spent to bus supporters from state to state. Sometimes the same supporters are moved to other stops.
In “The Battle For Nigeria’s Presidency, CNN’s Christian Purefoy reported from Sokoto State, “widely regarded as the base of northern power and the region with the highest number of registered voters.”
Showing a scanty crowd during a widely advertised campaign visit of Goodluck the report focuses on Jonathan’s near-absent support. “Pressed up against the fence here, it looks like a lot of people have turned out for the President Goodluck’s visit, but if you come forward to the space where he will be speaking, it is pretty much empty. And if you just come to the back just across two or three people deep, the crowd thins out dramatically, and the seats at the back of the stadium, even here behind me, they are empty too.”
In contrast, the report shows the campaign visit of General Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Political Change (CPC) to the same Sokoto location one week after Jonathan’s visit, where he is welcomed by a vast and raucous crowd. “The crowd is much larger and much louder,” the reporter observes. “Buhari ran for the presidency in the last two elections but claims the voting was rigged. This time he hopes these people will help him also try something never before done in Nigeria: beat the incumbent President.”
Referring to the significance of the huge crowds at Buhari’s speaking stops, the spokesman to the CPC candidate, Yinka Odumakin, cautioned against anyone trying to subvert the will of the people in Saturday’s presidential election through rigging, warning that it would amount to “Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen combined.”
A source within the Jonathan campaign boasted that although Jonathan may be short on substance or ideas, it is blessed with mountains of cash looted by his cronies who are desperate for his victory in order for him to protect them. Last week, the Lagos-based 234NEXT newspaper exposed how the Minister of Petroleum Resources, and Jonathan’s long-time mistress, Dieziani Allison-Mudeuke, was engaged in skimming off kickbacks from importers of gasoline to support the campaign. To avoid a public uproar, Diezani quietly left Nigeria about a week ago on a celebrated medical surgery abroad. While her medical trip abroad was being announced as a critical matter, it turned out that she had only gone to have an appendix removed.
The Jonathan campaign has also raised tremendous money from issuing import waivers to importers. Since he came to power, Jonathan has issued over N100 billion worth of import duties to the notorious Vaswani Brothers. In one instance last year, the import waivers, which were first granted through one Chief Omokaro, was sold to the Stallion group for $19 million. Two days later, the money was paid to President Jonathan through Omokaro. The Vaswani Brothers have been expelled twice from Nigeria for engaging in import scams.
Our CBN source said that state governors are Jonathan’s best source of slush campaign cash. In return, they are granted excess crude cash allocations sometime several days in advance.
Jonathan, With An Eye on Saturday’s Crunch Vote, Meets Secretly with Jega
SaharaReporters sources said the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, has also met secretly with President Goodluck Jonathan at a private house in Abuja . The meeting was conducted under a heavy veil of secrecy and was known only to very few officials.
In the past few days, and bolstered by last Saturday’s largely successful legislative elections, President Jonathan has told top party officials and hawks in his government that Jega is “no longer a problem” and does not need to be removed from his post.
Partly because of the threat to his exalted job following the aborted election of April 2, analysts say Jega himself seems to be acting with greater deference to candidate Jonathan. That view of him may have been strengthened by the curious secret meeting with candidate Jonathan only days to the crunch political contest.
But a spokesperson to the INEC chairman, Mr. Kayode Idowu, denied the secret meeting was ever held. He told SaharaReporters that the only meetings Jega attended with Jonathan related to “election matters” at the National Security Council. He said Jega attended several of those meetings including one following the stormy outing where Jega’s job seemed to be threatened.