In a desperate bid to actualise their political ambitions in the current electioneering season, some politicians with choice properties in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have started selling and leasing such assets, including their mansions, in order to raise funds for their campaign ahead of the 2019 general election.
LEADERSHIP investigations revealed that because most channels hitherto used as conduits to embezzle monies for campaign financing have been blocked by the current administration, these set of politicians are left with no option than to give out large number of such choice properties said to be acquired from proceeds of corruption.
Some of the mansions, which had been under lock and key and remained unoccupied for several years, are located in highbrow areas of Asokoro, Maitama and some parts of Wuse II.
The realty sector had boomed during some past administrations, with many public servants, including former governors and legislators, investing heavily on choice properties in Abuja, using illegally acquired tax payers wealth.
It was further revealed that apart from security guards living in the gatehouse who were employed to safeguard the properties from vandals, the owners rarely visit such homes.
Nigeria is currently battling to address the over 17 to 20 million housing deficit despite the large number of completed and unoccupied houses dotting the landscape of major cities of Lagos, Portharcourt and Abuja among others.
Findings by this paper revealed that houses at Emmanuel Mbaka drive, by TY Danjuma Street and similar others at the Asokoro district are put up for sale.
The asking price for a 4 bedroom terraced duplex, 6 bedroom terraced duplex and 4 bedroom semi-detached goes for N700m, N620m and N650m respectively.
Parts of Maitaima district are not left out of the bargain, as houses at Volta close, Thames street, off Alvan Ikoku, Gana street and Mambilla street by Aso drive are also put up for sale.
A 5 bedroom detached duplex and 8 bedroom-detached duplex in this areas are pegged at N300million, N5billion, N130million and N1billion depending on the size of the buildings.
Wuse II is another highbrow area in the Federal Capital City (FCC) taunted by high cost of rental fees.
A 3 bedroom flat for rent at Aminu Kano crescent goes for N2.5million per annum, while a 5 bedroom detached duplex for sale at Nairobi Street is put at N650million.
Some experts who spoke to LEADERSHIP believed that the development might cripple economic growth by the time more accommodation are made available for lease.
A real estate developer, Arc Adewunmi Towolawi Okupe, said that since most of the houses are expensive for Nigerians in dire need of accommodation, the impact on the real estate sector might not be significant.
Okupe noted that houses should be designed to be flexible enough to accommodate changes in family size, income, status, among others.
On whether it might hike rental fees, he said, “No, it will rather stabilise or lower it a bit, following the law of demand and supply”.
The expert disclosed that a 5-bedroom duplex with a boys’ quarter is leased for N10million, while a 4-bed terrace is given out for N7.5m.
Lending his voice, the chairman, Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers (NICE), Abuja chapter, Engr Ben-Osy Okoh, described the trend as a threat to Nigeria’s economy.
He said the implication is that when these politicians are re-elected into power, they would loot the economy to repurchase the sold properties.
Okoh maintained that it poses no danger to the real estate sector but the economy.
Another developer, who also spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid jeopardising the interest of his client, asked if it was an aberration for any serving politician to put up his properties either for sell or lease.
He said some civil servants are wealthier than politicians, adding that majority of them disguise as very low-income earners while amassing wealth.
Stakeholders Urge Electorate To Fund Political Parties, Campaigns
Meanwhile, in a bid to ensure that elected political office holders feel a sense of indebtedness to the people, some stakeholders have urged Nigerians to donate generously towards the electioneering campaigns of candidates and political parties of their choice.
This demand is similar to the grassroots fundraising practice in the United States, which was instrumental to the election success of former US President Barack Obama who funded his campaign as candidate of the Democratic Party in the 2008 presidential campaigns from the general public.
The stakeholders condemned the trend whereby politicians offer properties for sale in choice areas within Abuja, Lagos and other major cities in the country in order to finance their campaigns.
They advised that Nigerians should identify and adopt a suitable model of funding political campaigns in the country.
The Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), the umbrella body of registered Political Parties in Nigeria decried self-funded political campaign, describing it as anti-democratic.
The council also bemoaned the huge cost of political campaign, which it said is now a burden on politicians seeking elective positions.
Newly elected chairman of the council and national chairman of the Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA), Chief Peter Ameh, who spoke exclusively to LEADERSHIP, urged Nigerians to donate to political campaigns so as to ensure inclusiveness and sense of participation in the political process.
On the sources of campaign funds, Ameh explained that the use of huge funds sourced by an individual aspirant in the campaign processes is counter-productive, saying politicians who personally bear huge costs of campaign funds will treat governance as a business venture.
Condemning the trend whereby politicians offer properties for sale in choice areas within Abuja, Lagos and other major cities in the country in order to finance their campaigns, Ameh noted that such politicians would be more interested in acquisition of bigger properties in Nigeria and abroad by the time they are elected into public office.
“I am aware of the trend, and I condemn it totally. How do we open-up the political space for the young people if we keep yielding the floor to moneybags? How can young people come into government?” Ameh queried.
IPAC also described the exorbitant rate charged by some political parties for nomination and expression of interest forms as outrageous.
He noted that the cost of running elections must be moderated so as to open-up the political space for young Nigerians.
“If we must expand the democratic space, nomination forms should even be free because it is part of fundamental rights of citizens. In civilised climes, people donate money for those seeking elective offices,” he stated.
He assured that IPAC would consider necessary actions to ensure that funding of political campaign is moderated.
He said, “It is part of my agenda to moderate the political temperature to make it inclusive and accessible for every eligible Nigerian. We should learn how to conduct political activities at moderate costs.
“We must create a model that works for us; the people must donate to candidates so that they can own the process. You cannot own somebody who has spent about N600 million to N1 billion to win an election. It is not possible.
“So, it makes it look like an investment that has to be recouped. In our society where poverty has cremated everywhere, it makes more people vulnerable to the money for vote syndrome”.
Also speaking, national chairman of the United People’s Party (UPC), Dr Kenneth Ibe-Kalu, observed because the cost of running election in Nigeria is huge, political parties are justified to charge huge funds as fee for nomination forms.
He however noted that the funds should not be raised solely by an individual aspirant or candidate.
Ibe-Kalu said, “Conducting election is a serious endeavour and it is capital intensive. A lot of processes are involved, which includes but not limited to campaigns, media engagements and so on. These things cost money.
“You should also remember that along the line there could be legal issues that has to be promptly responded to, and the political party takes care of all these.
“Therefore, the nomination fee, in my own view, is not outrageous. Rather, Nigerians should shift attention from a self-financed electoral processes and raise funds for the candidate they believe in. This is the only way to help the process”.
12m Rice Farmers Mobilise For PMB’s Reelection
Meanwhile, over 12 million rice farmers in the country have pledged to mobilise their family members to cast their votes for president Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 general election.
The farmers under the auspices of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) also promised to contribute money to buy APC presidential nomination form for President Buhari to enable him contest the 2019 presidential poll.
National president of the association, Alhaji Aminu Goronyo, disclosed this yesterday when he led state and zonal members of the association on a courtesy call to Kebbi State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, at Government House, Birnin Kebbi.
He noted that the association has 12.2 million members across the country who are ready to support the president in his quest to make Nigeria self sufficient in food production.
”When we met Mr President in Abuja, we told him that small farmers of this county who are 12.2 million in number have directed us to inform him that they have started putting their money together as a contribution so that when the time comes they will be able to purchase nomination form for him to contest the 2019 election”, he said.
Goronyo commended Governor Bagudu for the tremendous support he is giving RIFAN and the role he is playing in improving rice production in Nigeria as chairman of the presidential committee on Rice and Wheat farming.
In his remarks, Governor Bagudu praised the association for recording remarkable success in rice production within a short period of time.
He also acknowledged the support of President Buhari to farmers in the country, saying he has done things that are unprecedented to farmers in Nigeria.
Group To Raise N1bn For PMB’s Primary Reelection
Meanwhile, a political group, Buhari 2019 Door-to-Door Ambassadors, has set up a crowd fundraising platform to raise N1billion to fund President Muhammadu Buhari’s primary election in the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The group’s target of N1 billion is tagged “Nigerians Fund PMB 2019 Primary”.
This comes just days after some Nigerians and groups jostled to obtain the president’s nomination and expression of interest forms, with NCAN eventually outsmarting them.
The director general of the coordinating organisation, Chris Kohol, in a statement issued in Abuja, said the crowd funding campaign was initiated by patriotic Nigerians to appreciate President Buhari’s sterling leadership achievements.
He stated that the crowd fundraising will start from today, Monday September 10, 2018 by 10am and end Monday, September 17, 2018 by 7pm.
He added that channels of the crowd funding include online payment, bank transfers/deposits and short code SMS.
He explained that the crowd fundraising exercise will be highly transparent, as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC), the Department of State Services (DSS), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Buhari Presidential Campaign Organisation 2019 and Buhari Support Organisations (BSOs) had all been notified of the funding exercise and have been invited to monitor and audit the project.
Kohol said, “President Muhammadu Buhari, as a man of integrity and honour, has said several times and demonstrated many times that he will not touch any Kobo of the public funds, unlike some past leaders, to facilitate his re-election bid.
“Hence, Nigerians are keen to crowd-fund N1billion for his presidential primary to enable him apply the funds for campaign transportation/logistics, campaign materials, non-volunteers salaries, media, advertisement and other key expenses during the presidential primary and convention.
“Now, as President Buhari prepares for party primaries, many Nigerians and groups have indicated interest and aligned to fund President Muhammadu Buhari’s primary with a crowd fundraising target of N1 billion”.
Kohol further said the Buhari 2019 Door-To-Door Ambassadors was a voluntary socio-political organisation that is birthed chiefly to promote and propagate President Muhammadu Buhari’s sterling administrative achievements through door-to-door outreach, campaigns and other innovative and strategic means towards ensuring his victory in the 2019 election.
He said the organisation currently has over four million PVC-carrying members across the country in just five months of it establishment and targets 37 million members across 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, adding that the organisation plans to embark on full membership mobilisation early next month.
Aspirants In Last-minute Rush For Forms
Meanwhile, stalwarts of the APC were at the weekend engaged in a frenzy of purchasing expression of interest and nomination forms ahead of Tuesday’s deadline for the closing of sales.
LEADERSHIP observed that the national secretariat of the APC in Abuja was a beehive of activities on Saturday and Sunday as political bigwigs seeking re-election or new offices thronged the party with their supporters.
Among those who came to obtain their nomination forms was the Senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, who was accompanied by his supporters from the seven local government areas of Kaduna State under his constituency.
Addressing his supporters prior to picking the form, Senator Sani urged them to sustain the momentum as they had always done, especially with the 2019 general election around the corner.
Also, the people of Borno North senatorial district have purchased the N22.5m expression of interest and the nomination forms for an aspirant from Borno South senatorial district, Alhaji Idris Mohammed.
The leader of the Northern delegation, Alhaji Umar Lawan, said the idea is to deepen the process of democracy in the state.
LEADERSHIP learnt that a major issue in the build-up to the 2019 governorship election in the state has been power rotation.
Of the six governors that have ruled the state since 1979, none has been from the Southern part.
Speaking on why some people from the Northern part opted to take the initiative, Lawan said, “There have been a lot of complaints that the people of Southern Borno are marginalised. Nobody has marginalised anybody because nobody has come out to say he is looking for governorship until today. So, it is a matter of reaching out to the people.
“Power is not served à la carte. You have to reach out for it. You have to earn it. We wish him a very good term and we pray that the people will accept him with open arms.”