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NAIRA RAIN! Pro-3rd term senators get N50million each

Posted by By BIYI ADEGOROYE on 2006/05/08 | Views: 957 |

NAIRA RAIN! Pro-3rd term senators get N50million each


Every senator who is bold enough to openly support the third term agenda of President Olusegun Obasanjo is now richer by N50 million, Saturday Sun can authoritatively report. Similarly, members of the House of Representatives who have done likewise have pocketed N40 million while every new entrant to the club of pro-third term senators, henceforth, is also to get a golden handshake of the N50 million.

• Reps get N40 million each

… As Ogbeha, David Mark take over from Mantu

Every senator who is bold enough to openly support the third term agenda of President Olusegun Obasanjo is now richer by N50 million, Saturday Sun can authoritatively report. Similarly, members of the House of Representatives who have done likewise have pocketed N40 million while every new entrant to the club of pro-third term senators, henceforth, is also to get a golden handshake of the N50 million.

The largesse is part of the renewed desperation of the presidency to wrest an elongation of Obasanjo’s tenancy in Aso Rock through the now controversial constitution amendment bill now before the upper legislative house. And this fresh onslaught is coming in the face of the looming defeat that now appears to be staring the third term campaign in the face at the National Assembly.

Furthermore, the camp of the pro-third term campaigners seems to have also made good its push to replace Deputy Senate President Ibrahim Mantu as the arrowhead of the campaign in the Senate.

Mantu who is believed to have become a liability to the group, by virtue of his having overdone his brief and actually outlived his usefulness, has gradually been eased off and the bulk of his responsibility transferred to Senator Tunde Ogbeha (PDP, Kogi).

Although Senator David Mark (Benue) who was originally scheduled to take over from Mantu is still very much in the picture, responsibility for the disbursing of the latest largesse is said to have fallen on another senator from Kogi.

Saturday Sun learnt that for undisclosed reasons – after a series of meetings in the Villa – the senator who for a long time made Lugard House very hot for Governor Idris Ibrahim was eventually picked alongside Mark by the Presidency as Mantu’s likely successors.

The dark-skinned senator has since got to work. In fact, between Thursday night and the early hours of Friday, according to a reliable source, his house was a beehive of activities as Senators were said to have converged there to further fine-tune their plans to muster the prerequisite two-third majority in the senate. But that was not before a lot of money had changed hands, with each Senator getting as much as N50million - in hard currency.

The pro-third term camp was said to have become a bit apprehensive that as things were going, it may not make the 2/3 majority needed to carry the day, hence a plan was also adopted to woo more of their colleagues to their side.

The standard was then set at N50 million for every new convert.

Meanwhile, those who could not get their share of the largesse in dollar denominations, Saturday Sun gathered, were later directed to a recently merged bank in Wuse Zone 4 (name withheld) to collect the Naira equivalent (N50 million). Several of them stormed the bank early Friday morning to evacuate their loot.

Among the early callers was a green Nissan Jeep bearing the NASS number plate and another black Range Rover (number withheld).

When Saturday Sun contacted Senator Nuhu Aliu, (PDP, Niger), he confirmed knowledge of the distribution of money. "Yes, they have started. I’m aware of it. It is very sad. Each senator is getting N50m to speak in support of third term on the floor of the Senate chambers in his contribution to the amendment. Similarly, each member of the House of Representative is getting N40m."

According to Aliyu, a retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police and chairman, Senate committee on National Security and Intelligence, "a commercial bank located at Wuse is handling the distribution of the money. My informant has been able to identify the two vehicles used in withdrawing the money, but he could not mention their plate numbers."

"I have not been contacted in person, that prevents me from giving it hundred percent confirmation. Of course, you know my position on the issue of third term. I’m vehemently opposed to it. You can see their method of achieving their objectives- through bribery-actually a crime. It is ridiculous"

"It is very sad to say the least. How can any government claim to be fighting corruption and criminality at the same time utilise bribery as a way of effecting constitutional amendment? We can as well scrap ICPC and even the EFCC."

The Niger Senator, however, dismissed the SMS texts being sent around that the Senators were cashing cheques. According to him, nobody gives or receives cheques for transactions of this nature, as they could easily be implicated by the cheques. He said his suspicion is that the two vehicles used in distributing the money might have been the ones that showed up at the bank to clear a bulk cheque and are now distributing cash to the identified lawmakers.

Meanwhile, another senator who sought annonimity told Saturday Sun that "the banks would be shocked to know "that their books are being monitored. Many banks will witness huge lodgements in the days ahead but I warn them not to celebrate yet".

This, according to him, is because "whenever the third term project finally fails, there would be an investigation of the banks, certain accounts and lodgements therein".

N19 billion up in smoke

With the largesse, the third term campaign will gulp a whopping N5.450 billion to cover the senate’s 109 members and about N13.6 billion for the House of Representatives. This comes to a total of about N19 billion.

Incidentally, this is supposed to be 50 per cent of the money promised the lawmakers. The other 50% is expected to be paid them after the bill, with the third term addition, has scaled through and is enacted into law.

Although the source of the money is yet unclear, a large chunk of it was said to have been withdrawn by a key presidential aide from Anambra State who then forwarded it to the disbursing senators who are also retired military officers.

Three South South governors are believed to have provided a substantive part of the money while the presidency provided the rest. Although the Presidency could easily have raised the money, it had to be so distributed because the amount involved is so huge that it would be difficult to find any budgetary subhead under which any one government department or parastatal could place such huge amount without raising eyebrows.

Danjuma puts his feet down

Meanwhile, former Defence minster, Gen. T.Y. Danjuma was said to have met with Obasanjo early in the week to dissuade him from going ahead with the proposed term elongation.

Danjuma, one of those who persuaded Obasanjo to run in 1998 and who later fell out with the president, allegedly asked Obasanjo why he was so bent on destroying a country that has been so kind to him; a country which did not only train him, but made him head of state for so many years.

As a way of registering his non-support of the third term agenda, Danjuma was said to have told Obasanjo that if his wife, Daisy, who is a Senator of the Federal Republic, ever votes for third term, he would pack her out of his house.

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