Controversial Housing Allowance: Ayu Fails To Make PDP Account Public
Three months after the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, promised to make the account of the party public, he has yet to do so.
Ayu had in October last year promised to make public the income and expenditure account of the party public by December after its presentation to the National Executive Committee to mark the one-year anniversary of the National Working Committee led by him.
The national chairman made the pledge following accusations of mismanagement of party funds by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, who also alleged illegal payment of housing allowance to members of the NWC and members of staff at the party’s secretariat.
The controversy that the accusation generated resulted in the subsequent return of the alleged illegal funds to the party’s coffers by those affected.
In total, the sum of N1.3bn was approved by the party’s leadership for disbursement to the beneficiaries.
The decision was sequel to a memo presented by the party’s National Secretary, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, at a meeting attended by 13 members of the NWC, while six members sent in apologies.
The Deputy National Chairman (North), PDP, Ambassador Illiya Damagun, presided over the meeting as Ayu was said to have travelled out of the country.
The document read in part: “Housing Allowance for NWC/ Staff: The National Secretary presented a memo requesting (the) NWC to approve the payment of housing allowance to members of the NWC and the staff (members).
“The National Vice Chairman, NW, suggested that the memo be amended by separating the deputy national officers from (the) NWC and also said the housing allowance should be approved considering how much it would help members (of the NWC) and staff (members).
“The National Treasurer commended the National Secretary for ensuring that staff (members) were also beneficiaries of the housing allowance.
“The National Auditor suggested that the two-year salary set aside should be invested.
“Subsequently, the NWC approved a total sum of one billion, three hundred and seventy-eight million, two hundred and eleven thousand, five hundred and eight naira (N1,378,211,508) only for the payment of housing allowance to the NWC, deputy national officers and staff (members).”
Following Wike’s allegation, the Deputy National Chairman (South), Taofeek Arapaja; National Vice Chairman (South-South), Chief Dan Orbih; and National Women Leader, Prof Stella Affah-Attoe, returned sums ranging from N28.8m to N34m paid into their accounts on the grounds that they were suspicious.
They each wrote to Ayu and expressed their displeasure with a media publication suggesting that the money was paid as a bribe to secure their support. The national chairman, however, denied that the payment was a bribe and said the NWC members collectively agreed to the payment of the housing allowance.
Following the controversy Wike and his allies insisted on the resignation of the national chairman over the allegation and claims of lopsidedness in the party’s leadership hierarchy.
Wike and his allies, the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom; Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde; Abia State Governor, Ikeazu Ikpeazu; and Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwanyi, maintained that for equity justice and fairness the national chairman had to step aside for a southern chairman.
The Rivers governor had also accused Ayu of allegedly pocketing N1bn donated by a Lagos businessman, which was never remitted to the party’s treasury, an allegation the national chairman denied.
When contacted on why Ayu had yet to make the account public as promised, the Special Adviser on Media and Communications to the National Chairman, PDP, Mr Simon Imobo-Tswam, said he had yet to get details from his principal.
Imobo-Tswam stated, “I don’t have that information yet; let the spokesman (of the PDP) speak on it; it is not his (Ayu’s) personal account that is to be published, it is the party’s account.
“I am in the village as we speak; I am bereaved; so, you can talk to him (party’s spokesman).”
National Publicity Secretary of the party, Debo Ologunagba, he said “Go and ask him (Ayu) now. I am the one who said it (to make the account public); go and ask him.