The multi-party system in most countries is no doubt a dividend of democracy, but also raises an eyebrow considering the peculiarity of Nigerian politics where taxpayers money in most cases are used for personal and party benefits by candidates who once elected often become more committed to themselves and their political parties than the electorates who voted them into power.
This may have been the scenario on October 18, 2018, when the Delta State Governor, Mr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa approved the sum of 60 million Naira from the state coffers as a grant for 55 registered political parties in the state on the request of the then Secretary to the State Government, Hon. Festus Ovia Agas, SecretReporters can authoritatively report.
In the document in our possession dated 17th October 2018 under File No. SGD.828/T/71, the SSG proposed a grant of N1,000,000.00 (One million Naira) to be given to opposition political parties in Delta State and another sum of N5,000,000 (Five Million Naira) as a grant for the “effective operation of Inter-Party Advisory Council in the state” 5 months to the 2019 governorship election in the state. This was speedily approved by Okowa who goes by the moniker ‘Ekwueme’ literally meaning ‘he who does what he says he will do’, on the 18th of October 2019.
Despite being presented as a grant in the leaked memo, the Okowa led administration in a bid to mask the funds to look like a state gift to the opposition parties, charged the approved amount to Head 413A, Sub-Head Bill(i)-Code No. 101101300001/22040109-Gifts and Donations in the 2018 Approved Budget.
Curiously, this money was given during the heat of the electioneering period and in a magical twist, some of the political parties adopted Okowa as candidate for the gubernatorial election which he finally won. The disbursement we learned was made under the supervision of the Senior Political Adviser to the Governor in collaboration with the Senior Special Assistant on Inter-party Relations.
However, it was unclear if, the funds were duly given to any if not all 55 opposition political Parties as sources alleged that the grant was a mere avenue to siphon taxpayers money from the state coffers all in the name of creating a sense of belonging to opposition parties in the state and encouragement towards advancing the course of democracy.
When contacted for the government’s reaction, the Chief Press Secretary to the state governor, Mr Olisa Ifeajika in his docile one-way style of answering on issues regarding the previous years stated that he was not the one in office then.
When SecretReporters contacted Prohet Jone Erue, the Chairman of the All Progressive Congress which is the main opposition party in the state, he stated that his party has never received anything from the PDP led government of Governor Okowa since its inception.