More facts have emerged about events leading up to the approval and disbursements of various sums of money to members of the National Working Committee (NWC) as well as Secretariat Staff of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) as housing allowance.
A document sighted by Sunday Vanguard revealed that a total of N1.3bn was approved by the party leadership for disbursement.
The decision was sequel to a memo presented by the party’s National Secretary, Sen. Samuel Anyanwu, at an NWC meeting attended by 13 NWC members while six members sent in apologies.
The Deputy National Chairman (North), Amb. Illiya Damagun, presided over the meeting because the National Chairman, Sen. Iyorchia Ayu, was abroad.
The document read in part: “Housing Allowance for NWC/ Staff: The National Secretary presented a memo requesting NWC to approve the payment of housing allowance to members of the NWC and the staff.”
The comments section read: “The National Vice Chairman NW suggested that the memo be amended by separating Deputy National Officers from NWC and also said the housing allowance should be approved considering how much it would help members and staff.
“The National Treasurer commended the National Secretary for ensuring that staff 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 our billion, three hundred and seventy-eight million two hundred and eleven thousand, five hundred and eight Naira (N1, 378, 211,506) only for the payment of housing allowance to NWC, Deputy National Officers and staff.”
Those who sent in apologies, according to the document, were National Vice Chairman (South-East), Chief Ali Odefa, his South-South counterpart, Chief Dan Orbih, as well as their counterparts from the South-West, and North-Central, Hon. Olasoji Adagunde and Theophilus Dakas Shan respectively.
Others were National Woman Leader, Prof. Stella Efface-Attoe, and Deputy National Secretary, Setonji Koshoedo.
Four senior members of the NWC, namely Taofeek Arapaja, Deputy National Chairman (South), Orbih and Efface Attoe, had returned sums ranging from N28.8m to N34m which they claimed was paid into their accounts on the grounds that they were suspicious.
They each wrote letters addressed to the National Chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, expressing their displeasure with a media publication suggesting that the money was paid as a bribe to secure their support.
However, in the attendance register sighted by Sunday Vanguard, Arapaja’s name appeared as number two after that of Damagun who presided at the meeting.
The controversy generated by the refund had led to calls by some party leaders for Ayu to step aside. Others felt it was an orchestrated plot to distabilise the party by making a mountain out of a molehill.
There is tension between PDP leaders sympathetic to Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State who came second in the party’s presidential primary and those loyal to the presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who has remained a pillar of support for Ayu.
While Wike and most of his supporters have withdrawn their support for Atiku, insisting Ayu should step aside first, the party’s campaign is expected to be officially flagged off in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital, tomorrow.