…APC, PDP, LP Campaign Organisations in Distress
…All-Time Low Publicity Spendings Two Months to Elections
…APC Campaign Team Members Express Frustration
The expectation that the ongoing campaign for the 2023 general election would be one of the most expensive in Nigeria’s chequered history may not be true in the long run, given the funding crisis presently rocking the major political parties ahead of the election.
Election funding can make or mar a party facing formidable rivals in the challenging contest for the prized office of President in a large, diverse and multi-ethnic country like Nigeria.
Steady mobilisation, promotions, advertisement, recruitment, deployment and the feel good atmosphere that money usually brings disappear when funding is unsteady or interrupted, thereby creating a sense of uncertainty. More so, when the source of major funding fails to keep up an earlier promise.
This is the current situation of things in the presidential campaign train of the three major parties contesting the 2023 presidential election, namely the All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP), THEWILL has learnt.
LABOUR PARTY TOO BROKE
The funding crisis within the Labour Party is not new to observers of political developments in the country as the crisis is currently threatening to tear the soul of the party apart. Most of the problems currently facing the party are related to funding as it does not have the financial wherewithal to properly prosecute the campaign of its widely popular presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi.
TIGHT HOLD ON APC CAMPAIGN FUNDS
Although the APC Presidential Campaign Council is believed to have enough funds to take care of the Bola Ahmed Tinubu/ Kashim Shettima presidential campaign, the tight hold on the resources is becoming a source of worry for the members of the campaign council, whom THEWILL gathered, have been rendered redundant and frustrated.
Impeccable sources within the Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council pointed accusing fingers at a powerful and influential family member of the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, as holding tight to available funds and supervising the disbursement directly by himself, thus rendering those officially assigned to do so redundant.
“It is so frustrating. The young man is the one handling every spending and supervising all the publicity and advertising spendings, as well as the youth engagement across the country. Some of us were brought back from what we were doing and now, we are not being funded,” a leading member of the media team of the APC Presidential Campaign Council was quoted to have said as he complained bitterly of being rendered redundant.
PDP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN TEAM NOT TOO BUOYANT
Dependable sources within the PDP told our correspondents that the expectation that the party would not have any problem financing the campaign is losing ground.
THEWILL gathered that the party’s campaign is not buoyant unlike the past elections. According to sources, Atiku, who is the presidential candidate, is perceived not to be as stupendously rich as he was in 2019 and that the party’s primary held on May 30, 2022 at the Velodrome of the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja, was majorly financed by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, who had earlier done a deal with Atiku to be his running mate.
This was why Atiku insisted on Okowa as deputy despite a special committee’s recommendation of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State as its preferred choice.
However, it was gathered that Okowa, who had earlier pledged to fully finance the presidential campaign before and after he was picked as the vice presidential candidate, is now foot dragging.
This development, THEWILL gathered, is straining relations between Atiku and Okowa. This is because the latter has not released sufficient funds six months after he made the pledge.
One of the leaders of the PDP, who spoke on the issue on condition of anonymity, said, “Like other party leaders who extended funding for the primaries, Dr Okowa was very helpful in the emergence of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. But since his emergence as VP, things have taken a new turn with regards to funding.
“We don’t know what went wrong. Okowa now appears to be foot-dragging in releasing enough money for the campaign. It was because Wike heard of the problem that he announced that the Federal Government paid the arrears of the ecological funds of all the South- South States recently.
“Wike was trying to cause problems by exposing that Okowa has enough money in hand but is just playing games with Atiku. The truth is that Okowa is shocked that Atiku really expects him to fully fund their campaign and this is a burden that Okowa is not willing to carry alone.”
Another prominent source said the problem is that “as a major source of funding, Okowa is yet to deliver on his promise and this is causing some rift with his principal, Atiku Abubakar.”
SOURCE OF THE PROBLEM
Can Okowa solely fund the presidential campaign of the Atiku/Okowa ticket? PDP stalwarts say it is a task too heavy for the Governor to handle. Yet, Atiku is banking on Okowa to foot a large chunk of the bill.
Investigation by THEWILL shows that Okowa’s reluctance is influenced by Delta’s Governorship election and the uncertainty surrounding his political future.
For a governor whose second term in office will end in five months, the question of retaining and maintaining leadership in a state in which he has loomed large has come to hit him in the face and he is said to be trying to be careful not to put all his eggs in one basket by throwing too much money into the presidential election, in the event that the party loses the presidency in the February 2023 election.
The recent revelation by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that it is preparing for a second ballot in case there is no clear winner in the presidential election in the first ballot, the threat of Peter Obi and the Labour Party’s dominance in the South-East, as well as his entry into the South-South, the two regions, which were regarded as PDP stronghold, it was gathered, is making Okowa thread carefully with funds.
This was confirmed by a source who said: “The governor’s reluctance to release the promised funding is also a direct response to the political threat posed by the Peter Obi/Datti candidacy, which has been gaining traction in the state recently.
“Delta state has a large Igbo population which is resonating with the South-East support for the Obi/Datti presidency since the major social-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo recently threw their weight behind the candidacy.
“Consequently, the “OBidient movement” has waxed stronger in the state. The battle cry of another, ‘Fulani replacing another Fulani’ and ‘power shift to south’, has found a fertile ground to germinate fast, posing a threat to the firm control of the party in the state.”
What this means is that for a state that has been under the control of the PDP since the dawn of the fourth republic in 1999, winning the governorship is more certain than winning the presidency, enabling leadership dominance and control in the state by the governor.
All this will require huge sums of money to service and maintain. Closely tied to this, according to a dependable source, is the uncertainty of victory at the centre, the anti-party activities of the governors of Rivers, Benue, Abia, Enugu and Oyo States, who are insisting on geo-political balance, and the problem they have created for the party. With less than 90 days to the general election, the crisis is still rocking the party, even as its officials continue with electioneering.
Also acting as a restraint on the governor’s disposition to release significant funds is the complication caused by the unanticipated flooding of the state recently. The flood disaster, which started in September, through November 2022 and which is yet to fully abate, is said to have compounded the finances of the state.
The flooding had left many citizens in large parts of the state overwhelmed alongside those of other similar riverine states in the Niger Delta, such as Rivers and Bayelsa States.
Apart from Bayelsa, however, Delta State was the worst hit as many of its communities were submerged for many days, leaving farmlands damaged and hunger, poverty, disease and homelessness a real threat.
Even the National Sports Festival, which the state sponsored within the space of four years, was geared towards maintaining its leadership dominance in the region, said the source.
Although a government source told THEWILL that defeating the PDP in the governorship election in Delta State “is impossible”, given its dominance, he could not say the same for the presidency.
The source confided in this newspaper that many leaders of the party in the state now have “double loyalty”. “They are PDP in the day and ‘OBidient’ or APC, in the night.
The reason for this, it was learnt, is because some key leaders who had become disenchanted with the way the party’s governorship primary turned out, have fallen back on grievances over perceived neglect of their areas in the distribution of state capital projects as well as their personal interests as a way to fight back. They appear willing to undermine the Okowa/Atiku ticket but support the PDP in the governorship election.