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Monday, August 25, 2008


It is hardly surprising that the quaint interest which the group called “Africans for Obama… 2008” has taken in the Barack Obama campaign is causing some furore in the polity. It is so because there is something untoward and questionable about the claim the group is making in this regard.

The group led by Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, the Director General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), had organized a fund-raising dinner ostensibly in support of the presidential bid of Obama, the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party in the United States.

However, the Obama campaign organisation was quick to dissociate itself from the fund-raising especially in the light of the fact that it runs against the grain of the American Electoral Law. In fact, the Foreign Election Campaign Act of 1974 expressly forbids foreign nationals from donating funds to American elections.

But even as the Obama campaign organization distanced itself from the fund-raising, discerning Nigerians took interest in the ethicality or otherwise of the fund-raising dinner organized by Okereke-Onyiuke. Consequently, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is beaming a searchlight on the fund-raising dinner. It has invited Okereke-Onyiuke for questioning with a view to knowing how much was raised at the fund-raising and who the beneficiaries are.

In the face of all this, the group is claiming that it never announced that it was raising funds or soliciting donations for the Obama campaign. Instead, it said that the dinner/concert was designed to sensitize and mobilize Africans worldwide as well as eligible American citizens to register and vote. It also explained that any excess fund realized after this was to be utilized for advertisements to encourage Africans that are of voting status and all other Americans to exercise their franchise.

The involvement of Okereke-Onyiuke in this exercise simply reminds us of her earlier association with an organization which went by the name, “Corporate Nigeria” during the administration Olusegun Obasanjo. Then, the promoters of “Corporate Nigeria” came under intense criticisms as they were accused of using their corporate positions and platforms to promote the presidential bid of Obasanjo.As in the case of Corporate Nigeria”, there is everything untidy about what “Africans for Obama… 2008” is doing now, regardless of the denials and clarifications by Okereke-Onyiuke, its chairman.

The whole idea of the organization putting together a dinner/concert for the purpose of the Obama campaign is questionable.The issue here is not whether people were coerced or cajoled to donate money to the campaign fund. Rather, we are concerned about why allowance was made at all for any form of donation, whether it was meant for the campaign organisation or just to “sensitize” and “mobilize” as the group would have us believe. The latter-day clarification the group is making looks like an after-thought. It does not detract from the fact that the idea is repugnant.

For Okereke-Onyiuke, this is another wasteful engagement. It was bad enough that she and others who belonged to “Corporate Nigeria” compromised their professional integrity to campaign for Obasanjo. It is worse that she has deepened her participation in such questionable ventures by globalising her partisan inclinations in matters where she ought to be just an active observer.

As the Director General of the NSE, Okereke-Onyiuke should not be seen to be overtly involved or interested in partisan politics. She ran foul of this in the years of Obasanjo. Her latest involvement in the Obama campaign shows that she has not weaned herself of such obscene indulgences.It is in fact, surprising that she can still find the time for distractions such as this when she ought to be deeply concerned about the declining fortunes of the Nigerian stock market.

It is therefore gratifying that the EFCC has moved in to ascertain what the group is really up to. The commission should do a thorough job here. In the end, we would like to see an action that will definitively discourage others who may want to get involved in this corporate irresponsibility in future. Culled from Daily Sun.

What do you make of the whole uproar about the fund raising for Obama Campaign? Post your comments here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Its a real misplaced priority. We have a lot of homeless and hungry people in the country imagine what a N100million invested properly would do in these people's life. Its a big shame to our so called elites.

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