Bola Tinubu, the Jagaban of Borgu Emirate, must not be investigated in isolation for the bullion van he kept in his residence in Lagos, to induce his foot soldiers to work hard for the re-election of incumbent President Buhari , if the scam called Nigerian elections will not be exposed.
Bola Tinubu, the erstwhile governor of Lagos State, kept two bullion vans in his residence, each estimated to hold N2 billion naira ($5 million dollars) to ensure that his party gents keep to their own side of the story and protect the votes of President Buhari in the 2019 elections. The Tinubu bullion van has sparked controversy, and many have called for the prosecution of the strongman of Lagos.
Since the anti-graft body refused to prosecute him over the bullion van in his residence, many have called Buhari’s anti-corruption campaign a hypocritical exercise. I do not share in the Tinubu Bullion Van controversy because the contents in that bullion van is not up to N5billion naira, yet the politicians spent over N 1.6 Trillion in the just concluded general elections, and Tinubu’s bullion van content is just .025 percent, a the tiny fraction of what Nigerian politicians wasted in the 2019 polls.
In my last piece titled ‘2023: Why Tinubu Must not be Dumped by Buhari’, I stated that
“President Buhari should maintain his neutrality in the Tinubu fight with cabals within the north, dissents within his own Yoruba camp, and agitations for overdue Igbo Presidency. The Tinubu affair should be handled carefully, Let him not be abandoned by Buhari, let other contenders and interests for the 2023 presidency be equally accommodated within the context of emerging realities without necessarily making a mockery of Tinubu else the entity called All Progressive Congress is headed for explosion”.
Before delving into the general election, I monitored Anambra 2017 polls and knew that over N30 billion was spent on that election. Arthur Eze, the influential billionaire, spent over N5 billion naira on the APC Governorship candidate. APC governors belatedly mobilized over N2 billion for Tony Nwoye. On the eve of 2017 Anambra polls, Best Western Hotel in Awka had over N2 billion naira in cash, which the APC candidate doled to party agents. Local Government Chairmen got N80 million naira each same night, for 21 local governments, amounting to over N1.6 billion naira, yet there was no single bullion van anywhere within the vicinity of the hotel.
Governor Obiano and wife supervised the disbursement of over N2 billion naira to party officials on the eve of the election, and monitored by a friend from the Governor’s lodge, yet no bullion van was sighted in the premises. I know those settled on the eve of the polls, Billions of naira had earlier been spent by APGA, of which I monitored some disbursements; both at the party offices and homes of influential chieftains, and no bullion van was sighted. I was told that the PDP spent about N3 billion for the election, a paltry sum, compared to what others spent.
During the 2019 polls, I monitored the conduct of politicians from various angles, and have documentation of how hundreds of billions were spent by both parties to procure support from relevant agencies, yet no bullion van was dramatically displayed.
From my subjective estimate, the main opposition candidate, Atiku Abubakar spent over $ 2 billion dollars (N800 billion naira) for the elections. That amount is about 400 bullion vans worth of money, provided each bullion van, heavily loaded contains N2 billion naira. It was alleged that $3 million dollars were budgeted per state for voter, on the election eve, yet politicians embezzled the money, probably, had they utilized the funds, the opposition could have scraped up two million idle voters, and the ruling party would have won, and Buhari sent back to Daura.
Politicians all over Nigeria spent billions individually on elections. Governors Wike(PDP), Okowa(PDP), Udom(PDP), Ganduje(APC), Bala Mohammed(APC), Okorocha (APC)and Tambuwal(PD0P) are amongst the highest spenders among state chief executives. Wike confirmed that NDDC mobilized N10 billion naira to stop his re-election. Wike also counter mobilized over N20 billion naira to stop the rampaging forces of Rotimi Amechi and the military.
I also mobilized people and spent few millions to support those whose candidacy I believe in at local levels within the ambit of the law. I never participated in the spending malfeasance, and I knew many politicians who acted responsibly, both at state and national levels.
It is common knowledge among the EFCC and security agencies that INEC Resident Electoral Commissioners received bribes from the opposition in millions of dollars, and some of these REC couldn’t help the favored candidate because of the menacing presence of EFCC, DSS and ICPC inside the precincts of the electoral house. Adamawa REC was said to have rejected the $ 1 Million dollar bribe, though he recanted when politicians pressurized him. Some security and EFCC officials cornered some of these REC and collected their share of the national cake. The DSS invited a REC from the South East to Abuja for questioning because he has about N2 billion in his account and house and was saved by his governor in an opposition party. This REC now has a big political appointment from the ruling government.
Security agents received billions of naira from both parties to get favors during elections. Governor Wike’s plan to bribe the military commander with hundreds of millions of naira backfired, but the rest of the agencies got good share of the national cake. In Delta, Akwa-Ibom, Kano, Sokoto, Bauchi, and Adamawa, security agents were wonderfully greased with local and foreign currencies.
Judges were not left out in the electoral spending free. Spurious injunctions went for about N200 million naira while vacating such could cost an extra N300 million. Conflicting judgments went for between N100-300 million naira. Some governors spent over N2 billion naira for each stage of the tribunals in high-risk states and I know some persons who acted as couriers. A judge told me that it is politicians that are harassing them with money and not the other way round and that society should solve the problem from the top.
In my estimate, while the PDP spent over N1.2 trillion during the polls, their APC counterparts spent about N 500 billion. Therefore, the fixation on Tinubu’s N4 billion naira content of a bullion van, when over N 1.6 trillion was spent on the entire exercise is the height of hypocritical anachronism.
A serving opposition party Senator told me that the party eldership asked him to bring N200 million naira so that his mandate, emasculated by his state governor and given to his former boss will be returned to him.
The problem between former EFCC boss Magu, and former DSS boss Daura was the sharing formula for the over N20 billion naira collected by former DSS boss Ekpenyong, from ex-president Jonathan, which Magu believes is still in the physical possession of Ekpenyong, and which Daura was unwilling to cooperate with EFCC boss to recover. The money is not in a bullion van. The N6 billion naira Governor Obaseki paid to PDP leaders to secure a ticket, of which I was told their the chairman claimed N1 billion to himself, infuriating Governor Wike- were not kept in bullion vans.
Therefore, singling Tinubu alone for attacks over bullion van and electoral spendings is hypocritical. The right thing to do is to an outcry against the influence of money in Nigerian politics. Tinubu bullion van cash of N 4billion naira is about .025 percent of the over N1.6 trillion spent by politicians from all parties on the elections; therefore, singling him out for harassment, scandalization, abuse and prosecution is a hypocritical high horse that characterizes Nigerian politics and media trial.
Bola Tinubu’s bullion van controversy must not be investigated in isolation, it’s either the whole process of electoral spending spree is investigated, and culprits sanctioned, or else the traducers of the Jagaban of Borno should shut up their hypocritical mouth.
Obinna Akukwe, Columnist, [email protected], @obinnaakukwe