Doyin Okupe, a former PDP stalwart whose sudden embrace of the controversial ‘Obidient’ movement helped his emergence as Labour Party’s presidential campaign director, has been accused of siphoning N20M of party funds meant to ‘mobilize’ crowds from neighbouring states of the country to Oyo State for a rally organized by the party there for its candidate.
Okupe, who served PDP’s Goodluck Jonathan as Senior Special Assistant and once declared that Igbos cannot preside over the country unless they secure the North’s forgiveness for killing the Sardauna of Sokoto in the 1966 coup, was said to have concealed the sum awarded by the party for the ‘mobilization’ exercise.
The allegation was made by the Chairman of the Ogun State Chapter of the party, Michael Ashade, in a recent television interview. He claimed that Okupe only produced N4M out of the N20M approved by the party for its misleading tactic of filling campaign venues with a bought crowd in a bid to shore up its declining acceptance and poor popularity among Nigerians.
Recall that PODIUM REPORTERS had earlier reported Labour Party’s practice of crowd-buying at its rallies, given the party’s lack of recognition and acceptance in most parts of the country – a challenge caused in part by Obi’s lack of political experience and problematic association with IPOB, the proscribed secessionist group responsible for wanton killings and destruction in the eastern part of the country.
According to Ashade, “Our grouse is not just the fact that he has been found wanting on his financial obligation as a member, we also highlighted certain deeds that occurred during the rally at Ibadan in which members in Ogun State were expected to be mobilised for that rally. And certain financial anomalies occurred which we highlighted there. And we have discovered that certain amounts of money were approved for the states by the campaign council and we are asking where are the funds.”
“It’s unfortunate maybe he didn’t know it will get to this, because I have a chat he sent me saying that he was personally paying the mobilization of members from Ogun, Ekiti, Ondo, and Osun states for the Oyo state rally saying that there is no official amount approved. But, 20 million Naira was approved specifically for Ogun state to mobilise members.”
“We estimated 200 buses for the members, and it was turned down. It was reduced to 100 buses and forwarded to him, but he still rejected it saying no, that there are no funds that he was personally funding it. He came up with an estimate of N5,195,000, saying that was what he could personally afford. But it was less than that. About four million was what was gathered.”
“It’s so appalling that the budget we did, every member that goes there, a certain amount should be given to them, at least N5,000 as a token. He said no, N1,000 will be given. I said that is ridiculous. I, as a chairman of the party can not be in that position and be giving N1,000 to every member who left their home to Ibadan, and he said it’s for feeding.”
The allegations led to Okupe’s suspension by the state chapter of the party, but the national leadership of the party reversed the suspension, deepening the row within the party as the election campaign heats up.