The crises rocking the Iyorchia Ayu led National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has worsened with the revelation that the NWC members illegally converted billions of party funds for their personal use.
The Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike had in a media chat in Port Harcourt accused the National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu of pocketing a whopping 1 billion naira.
The case, however, got messier when a newspaper report revealed that the members of the NWC of the party allegedly shared among themselves over 10 billion from the proceeds of sale of forms for the party primary elections ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The newspaper allegation elicited a prompt action as four members of the party’s NWC spontaneously announced they have returned their own part of the money.
Among those who “returned” their share of the money include the Deputy National Chairman (South), Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja who acknowledged he received thirty six million (N36, 000, 000), Dan Orbih, National Vice Chairman (South South) who returned twenty eight million, eight hundred thousand (N28, 800,000); Prof. Stella Effa –Atoe, the National Woman Leader and Olasoji Adagunodo, the National Vice Chairman (Southwest) returned twenty eight million, eight hundred thousand (N28, 800, 000) each.
In a swift reaction, however, the National Publicity Secretary of the Party, Debo Ologunagba in a press statement issued on Thursday while acknowledging the payment denied that the monies were duly approved in line with the “conditions of service” for both staff and principal officers of the party.
The statement reads in part:
“The attention of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been drawn to misrepresenting reports in a section of the media alluding strange and unfounded motives to the Housing Allowance duly approved and paid to NWC members and staff of the Party
“The NWC has noted that this misleading report stemmed from an unfounded publication by a particular media outlet which suggested that the Housing Allowance, an entitlement duly approved and paid to national officials and staff of the Party amounted to bribery.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the PDP states in an unequivocal term that no funds were paid into the account of any member of the NWC as bribe for any purpose whatsoever for that matter.
“To set the record straight, the Housing Allowance being referred to went through the Due Process of the Party in line with the Conditions of Service and Entitlement of the Staff and Principal Officers of the Party.
“If any individual, for any reason decides to return money duly approved and paid, such does not in any way suggest that the money was paid as bribe or indicate that it was illegitimate or unlawfully paid.
“A bribe is defined as “money or any other valuable consideration given or promised with a view to corrupting the behavior of a person especially in that person’s performance as a public official…”. This is not the case in the payment of Housing Allowance duly approved for officials and staff of the Party.
Despite the refutations from the party, there is a mounting tension and agitations that the party NWC members should resign from their offices as the party goes into a very “hard” elections, especially the primary election.
A member of the party’s Board of Trustees (BOT) who spoke to FACTSHEET on the condition of anonymity because the BOT has not taken official position on the brewing crises, noted that “the members of the NWC have been badly damaged and so they are not fit to lead our campaigns.”
The BOT member noted that “this election is so critical that Nigerians will always make reference to those leading our campaigns and we cannot afford further scandals in this party, I am so disappointed.”
Another elder of the party from Niger State simply told the our reporter in the National Assembly that “Dr. Ayu has killed our party and hopes.”
There are feelers that the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party are already planning to convene a critical meeting where far reaching decisions will be taken on the lingering leadership crises and now heavy corruption allegations.