Fiery Lagos-based pastor, Tunde Bakare, has confirmed to Saharareporters that President Goodluck Jonathan provided a $50,000 cash bribe to a delegation of the Save Nigeria Group that visited him last Monday, but that the group sent back the money.
Pastor Bakare’s confirmation came in the midst of a tepid denial of our earlier report by Tony Uranta, one of Mr. Jonathan's political operatives. Uranta had claimed on his Facebook page yesterday that Saharareporters misrepresented the crux of the meeting between the president and the Pastor Bakare-led delegation.
Specifically, Uranta denied that Jonathan discussed his ambition to run for office with the SNG delegation. He also stated that no money was offered to the SNG team and claimed that, contrary to our earlier report, the Bakare group had not asked him to return the bribe money to Jonathan.
But in a telephone interview with Saharareporters on Sunday evening, Pastor Bakare confirmed that the details of our earlier exclusive report were factual and unimpeachable.
Bakare, who has a reputation for speaking out fearlessly on current political issues, affirmed that the Minister of the Niger Delta, Godsday Orubebe, had offered the SNG delegation the sum of $50,000 on behalf of President Jonathan. The SNG had met with Jonathan to review his performance in office.
In the phone interview, Pastor Bakare stated categorically that his team was indeed offered money after it submitted a position paper on why it was opposed to the president's ambition to be re-elected. He confirmed that the cash was immediately returned to sender through Uranta, shortly after it was presented to the SNG delegation.
The SNG convener told Saharareporters that his team felt terribly embarrassed and offended by the orchestrated attempt by Jonathan and his team to buy the SNG’s support through illicit means.
An obviously angry Bakare said, “You can quote me. I don't do deals and I don't lie. Tony [Uranta] could be saving his own face. Tony lied that he didn't collect the money from us. There are living witnesses. Orubebe has confirmed to me that the money was returned. Mr. President is aware through Oronto Douglas that we returned his money through Tony.”
Bakare said he, Yinka Odumakin and other SNG officials went to the meeting with Jonathan with a written document that explained why the SNG would not support his candidacy.
“We submitted a document regarding the culture of impunity in which he (Jonathan) continues to swim," he said.
As Saharareporters had exclusively reported, Jonathan sought a meeting with the Save Nigeria Group to discuss his ambition to run for office after it dawned on him that former Vice President Abubakar Atiku, the consensus candidate chosen by the so-called Northern Political Elders Forum, was going to present a stiff political challenge.
A close aide to Mr. Jonathan told Saharareporters that, whilst Atiku is steeped in corruption, the president was also aware that the Atiku group had a dossier on corrupt deals by both Jonathan, his wife and his close associates and advisors, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
After Bakare made his presentation and accused Jonathan of having abused the goodwill offered him by Nigerians, the president tried to buy the group’s loyalty by giving its officials $50,000 through Orubebe.
An Abuja-based democratic activist told Saharareporters that, by attempting to buy the SNG's support, Mr. Jonathan had “exposed himself to charges of hypocrisy and doing the opposite of what he preaches.”
In a speech on Saturday, Mr. Jonathan had urged Nigerians to ignore politicians who seek to win elections by offering money to groups and individuals....The president gave the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do sermon at the 2010 graduation ceremony of the Senior Executive Course 32 of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) in Kuru, Plateau State. Vice President Namadi Sambo represented the president at the event and read the speech on Jonathan’s behalf.
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