The generous dollar “gifts” President Goodluck Jonathan doled out to various ethnic groups in Delta State last week continue to generate tension among several of the groups. The conflicts have centered on the way the bribe funds were shared.
Mr. Jonathan had met leaders of various ethnic groups during a two-day working visit to Asaba, the capital of Delta State. The financial windfall was to persuade the various ethnic groups to back his re-election.
The president, who was lodged at the state’s new and uncompleted Government House in Asaba, disbursed varying amounts of dollars to leaders and members of ethnic groups in the state.
A reliable source said some groups felt slighted on learning that the president had given more money to other groups. For example, he disclosed that Mr. Jonathan handed $200,000 to the Isoko Development Union (IDU) led by Paul Ufuoma Omu, a retired Nigerian army general, while a different group from Anioma in the Delta North senatorial district received $100,000.
One of the delegates from the IDU who met with Mr. Jonathan told SaharaReporters that the dollar cash from the president had created bad blood among the union members. “Some of us suggested that the money should be used to get a befitting secretariat for the union and to run the affairs of the already bankrupt union,” said the source. He added, “The President General of IDU, in the person of retired General Paul Ufuoma Omu, is not happy at all at this moment because all his advise on using the money to benefit the entire community fell on deaf ears. So many of the people in the entourage are known to have [a] strong love for money. General Omu suggested that the money should not be shared but rather taken to Isoko and a meeting called of all clan heads to deliberate on how to use the money.
“But the likes of Professor Abednego Ekoko, Chief Dennis Etaluku and others known for their ungodly love of money, stood their ground against the advice of the IDU President. They said the money was a personal gift from Mr. President and must be shared immediately. Their position made General Omu to drive off in annoyance.”
Our source said Mr. Omu was disillusioned by the crop of so-called leaders Isoko has produced, adding that many of them are unable to restrain themselves in the presence of money.
Our correspondent learned that the presidential largesse had also created disaffection among other communities who received it, including the people of Anioma, Ijaws, Urhobos and Itsekiris. In each case, some members of the delegation that went to see Mr. Jonathan complained that they did not receive their fair share of the money.
Earlier, SaharaReporters had reported that numerous members of the Arewa community in southern Nigeria had accused former Governor Attahiru Bafarawa of Sokoto State of pocketing a significant portion of the funds he had received from the president on their behalf. As the chairman of the Arewa Initiative for Peaceful Co-existence in Southern Nigeria, Mr. Bafarawa had acted as the liaison between President Jonathan and the various groups of Hausa-Fulani people living in different parts of southern Nigeria.
Members of the Arewa community in Delta State also accused Auwalu Tukur, a special assistant to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan on non-indigenes, of disappearing with N12 million he allegedly received from the state governor on their behalf. Several members of the group told SaharaReporters that Mr. Tukur had taken advantage of his position as an aide of the governor to pocket their funds. “It was after Alhaji Auwalu Tukur told us that the governor has given him money to carry us along that we pledged our support and joined in the endorsement of President Jonathan and his vice during the president’s visit to Asaba. Then, after doing this pledge, Alhaji Tukur just disappeared without accounting for the money,” said one of the Arewa figures in Delta State.