“We are saddened that the PDP and Atiku’s loyalists are hailing the $90,000 or N31.5 million per month hire as the next best thing after the creation of mankind when they should reasonably be crying for being out of touch with reality. First, for a candidate that is selling the lies of being an apostle of restructuring, engaging Brian Ballard for that amount is the hallmark of irresponsibility," the statement read.
The Save Nigeria Network (SNN), a civil society organisation, has accused the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, of hiring foreign agents to manipulate results of the 2019 presidential and general elections.
Last week, Atiku was said to have hired the firm of Brian Ballard, a top US lobbyist, ahead of the 2019 election. According to The Cable, the viewed documents on the hire showed that PDP agreed to pay $90,000 (N31.5m) to Ballard Partners Inc. on a monthly basis throughout the duration of the contract..
However, SNN said accused the PDP and Atiku of hiring the foreign firm to "manipulate the result of the 2019 polls".
In an electronic statement obtained by SaharaReporters, Abraham Abayomi, Convener of the group warned Nigerians to be wary of the move.
The statement read: “We are saddened that the PDP and Atiku’s loyalists are hailing the $90,000 or N31.5 million per month hire as the next best thing after the creation of mankind when they should reasonably be crying for being out of touch with reality.
“First, for a candidate that is selling the lies of being an apostle of restructuring, engaging Brian Ballard for that amount is the hallmark of irresponsibility. Part of the restructuring Nigeria needs is the urgent trimming down of election cost so that decent people that do not have access to stolen public funds can contest and possibly win elections to contribute their quota to national development.
“But where Atiku remains obsessed with doling out to Americans part of the left over from the resources he personalised from his vice-presidency days, then reducing the cost of elections will remain a myriad and majority of those that will contest and likely win will remain treasury looters.
“We have cause to believe that the hiring of Brain Ballard is not because he is a publicist, but because the $90,000 monthly is a bribe or fees for helping Atiku commit a fresh round of crime to wit forging and manipulating documents to enable him again enter the US. Part of Ballard’s assignment, as we have been made to understand, is to lobby Americans to spare Atiku the prospect of serving jail term when he visits. The decision to hire this dangerous American to meddle in Nigeria’s election shows a troubling pattern that Atiku has no interest in running Nigeria for Nigerians.
“Ballard is therefore not a quantity to be celebrated as his previous job deliveries had been about manipulations and interference that was carried out by Russia in Trump’s election, which has become a subject till date in the intelligence community of America.
“We must also point out that if Trump is Ballard’s product, then it follows that part of his strategy is to promote divisiveness — the United States has turned out fractured and the fault lines are becoming more pronounced with each successive day of the Trump Presidency, but the seeds of discord were sown during the electioneering.
“Ballard as Trump’s lobbyist is not a voter anywhere in Nigeria and whatever role he has been invited to play is suspicious and can only be targeted at a regime change that seeks to invalidate the sanctity of the ballot by getting third party countries to influence the process.
"It is a danger that must be immediately confronted so that we will not be lamenting in retrospect like the Americans are doing after Ballard completed his assignment there."