A N600,000 grant from the state government is presently sowing the seed of discord in Delta Chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC. The development has pitted the secretary of the party, Chidi Okonji who has already been suspended, against other executives.
Okonji was suspended last Wednesday, by the State Working Committee, SWC of the party for allegedly collecting the said amount without the knowledge of the other leaders of the APC in the state.
Explaining details of Okonji’s suspension, the state deputy chairman of APC, Cyril Ogodo, said: “The secretary allegedly collected the sum of N600, 000 as purported grant from the state government without the knowledge of the party.”
Okonji however described the SWC meeting as “illegal”, saying, “The chairman is expected to call a State Working Committee meeting before such a decision can be made and they were not up to 11 persons in attendance at that meeting.
“Besides, the directive for the collection of that money, which is N500, 000, was given to me by the state chairman. He told me that the money was meant for interparty from the national fund for political parties and it is our entitlement.”
Accusing the state government of interfering in the affairs of the party, Ogodo said:
“The PDP-led government, for the sustenance of their evil machination, decided to employ the services of our suspended secretary, Chidi Okoji, and others whose identity would soon be disclosed and these issues would be dealt with.”
Okonji denied collecting the money unilaterally, stressing that he received the said amount on behalf of the party under the directive of the state APC chairman, Jones Erue.
“The directive for the collection of that money, which is N500, 000 and not N600, 000, was given to me by the state chairman. He specifically told me that the money was meant for interparty from the national fund for political parties and it’s our entitlement.” ‘
“After I collected the money, the chairman collected his own share of N250, 000 claiming it to be for his legal fees while I also collected N250, 000 for the suit involving an aspirant of the party who dragged the party to court during the 2015 general elections.
“If he claims he did not send me, which I know he cannot do, he should call a full meeting to that effect, let us sit-down and iron out the issue by printing the statement of the party’s account. Let us see how much has come in and how much has gone out and let everyone who has contributed funds to the party be there when the chairman is doing that.
“If the chairman is insisting that he did not give me letter to collect the money, we would go to court to prove it and we would know if he is the one that gave me the letter or not. Besides, both of us can be suspended from the party and let the party move on.”
Denying the claim by the secretary that he collected N250, 000 from the money, the state party chairman, Erue, said: “There is no iota of truth in Chidi’s allegation. He collected the money on December 30, 2016. Where did he see me to give me the money as I was nowhere around Asaba then.”
Ogodo, while saying the APC would never receive money from the state government, said: “The Delta APC will not, cannot and would never collect money from the Okowa-led PDP government”.
The Senior Special Adviser on Interparty Relations to Governor Okowa, Moses Abeh, has however confirmed the grant was collected on behalf of Delta APC:
“I can confirm to you categorically that the APC collected grant from Delta State government and not from the federal government.
“If it’s from the national level, I am the SSA to the state government, what is my concern with national funds? The money came from Delta state government and APC is among the parties that benefited from the grant.
“When they came, they said they heard the state government was giving grant to political parties. I told them their secretary (Chidi Okonji) had already collected the APC share. The chairman retorted, saying, ‘how can?’ I immediately showed him (APC chairman) a copy of the letter he signed giving the secretary approval to collect the money on behalf of the party and this was in the presence of the chairmen of the three other political parties.”