Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has denied spending two trillion Nigerian naira (more than $10 billion) to win votes for his ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the recent general elections after a Nigerian newspaper accused the outgoing president of doling out the cash to PDP officials and close aides in an attempt to influence outcomes at the polls. Some officials allegedly used the cash to purchase expensive cars and other luxury items rather than distribute the funds to voters and groups.
Punch Nigeria newspapers said Jonathan had set up a committee to audit how his PDP campaign funds were used after a disappointing result in the general elections, despite giving campaign coordinators, party members, government officials, special advisers, support groups, close aides and friends two trillion Nigerian naira in cash. “The president is not happy. They all went on property and car shopping. This was the most expensive election in history of this country, yet there was no result,” a source close to Jonathan told Punch Nigeria newspapers Sunday. “The sad part was that even after the president lost on March 28, more money was given to all of them to make up for the dismal outing by winning their states during the April 11 elections. But that turned out to be a bad decision because apart from losing the governorship election, we didn’t perform well in the other elections.”
Jonathan also requested any unspent funds to be returned; however, there are no receipts to show that individuals within the PDP’s circle collected the money, Punch Nigeria newspapers reported. “They must give an account of the money since they didn’t use it for the election,” the source told the newspaper Sunday. “The president is not particular about the funds spent on genuine campaign needs like the hiring of jets, advertisements and the rest that also cost billions of naira. His focus is on the individuals that collected billions to deliver their states but couldn’t even win their polling booths.”
Jonathan’s spokesman, Reuban Abatai, released a statement after the story was published Sunday, saying the allegations were “mischievous, false and embarrassing,” the Premium Times said.
“The president has not set up any committee as alleged in that story. It also is not true that the presidency and the Peoples Democratic Party used state funds, or spent N2 trillion during the campaigns,” Abatai, said in the statement. “We are particularly worried that since the March 28 and April 11 elections, some persons have continued to work very hard to diminish the Jonathan presidency. They need to be reminded that the time for politics is over; it is now time to focus on the incoming government, with emphasis on national development and moving the country forward.”
Jonathan lost the March 28 presidential election to Muhammadu Buhari, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) opposition party. Jonathan’s PDP also lost majority rule in both chambers of parliament as well as more governorship and legislative positions to APC candidates in the April 11 gubernatorial elections. The outcome of the general elections concludes the PDP's 16 years of majority rule in Nigeria.
Nigeria’s GDP in 2013 was 80.2 trillion naira, or $510 billion. More than 70 percent of Nigeria's federal budget is currently spent on the salaries and benefits of a million public officials.