Members of the southern Arewa community in southern Nigeria are in a fighting mood, alleging that former Governor Attahiru Bafarawa and an aide to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta ran off with some of the funds President Goodluck Jonathan reportedly gave to them last week to secure their endorsement.
Some figures within the community insist that Mr. Bafarawa, who is the chairman of the Arewa Initiative for Peaceful Co-existence in Southern Nigeria, must return the cash he reportedly skimmed off from millions of naira that Mr. Jonathan had given to them during the president’s two-day visit to Delta State last week.
Disaffected members of the group told a correspondent of SaharaReporters that Mr. Jonathan had used the occasion of his visit to Delta to distribute cash to the Arewa community in southern Nigeria as well as members of other ethnic groups in the state.
A prominent member of the Arewa community told SaharaReporters that Mr. Bafarawa duped them by running off with a substantial part of the dollar funds from the president.
According to the source, the funds from the president were meant to win the votes of northern residents of Delta State. “The entire members of the Arewa community in the southern Nigeria are supposed to come out and endorse Mr. President which we did after receiving the money,” said the source. He added: “But surprisingly, Mr. President gave each Arewa community from southern Nigeria N10 million through the chairman of the Arewa Initiative for Peaceful Co-existence in Southern Nigeria, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa. The money was given in dollars but instead of releasing the full money the way it was given, Bafarawa cut away N4 million and gave out only N6 million to each of the Arewa community across the 17 states of southern Nigeria.”
Another furious member said he expected Mr. Bafarawa to deny pilfering their funds. “If he denies taking our money, can he also deny that money was given to the Arewa community by President Goodluck Jonathan when he visited Asaba, the Delta state capital on Friday, February 27th 2015 and that the president and his vice were endorsed on Saturday, February, 28th at the Cenotaph, Asaba, Delta State capital?”
He added: “We are using this opportunity to tell Bafarawa to bring for us our balance of N4 million he took from the N10 million given us by Mr. President.”
Members of the Arewa community were bused into Asaba from across 17 states in order to endorse Mr. Jonathan.
In a related development, members of the Arewa community in Delta State accused Auwalu Tukur, a special assistant to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan on non-indigenes, of pocketing N12 million allegedly given to the group by the state governor to win their endorsement of President Jonathan’s re-election bid.
Last year, members of the Arewa community in Delta State had urged Mr. Uduaghan to fire Mr. Tukur whom they accused of corrupt practices, greed and self-centeredness.
An aggrieved member of the Arewa community claimed that Mr. Tukur always sought to grab anything meant for the larger group, adding that he hardly ever gives anything to the Arewa community.
“We are warning Alhaji Tukur to bring the N12million Governor Uduaghan gave us through him to support President Jonathan. Shortly after the event that day, some of our Muslim brothers from Warri attacked Tukur to get the N12 million, but he was rescued by one of the police area commanders at the cenotaph,” the source asserted.
Mr. Tukur did not answer calls to his mobile line. When a correspondent sent him a text message, he responded, “Please they should leave me alone. Are they not tired of spreading lies? What we did is our [belief] in PDP and the leadership of our great country Nigeria headed by President Goodluck Jonathan.”