The Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN) group, that supports and promotes a second term for Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan, has been hit by allegation of fraud, as some members of the group accused it of staging a crowd in support of the president and refusing to pay them as agreed.
Reportedly, TAN has conducted regional rallies in support of Mr. Jonathan since August, with the last of its six conventions held in Kano, for the northwest, which comprises Kano, Jigawa, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, and Kaduna States.
On September 27, the group held rally in Kano, the event was attended by senior officials of the federal government, and thousands of supporters.
According to Premium Times, much of the crowd at the event was rented as some aggrieved members of the group revealed.
Some members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kano State, who were drafted to be part of the TAN rally, have narrated how they were asked to rent a crowd for the president for an agreed fee, only to be left stranded without money to compensate hundreds of youth and women hired for the rally.
The matter is threatening to tear the support organization apart with the aggrieved members threatening to seek redress and to expose the sham they claim was on parade at the event.
As Premium Times reports, the aggrieved agents now have a pile of debt to settle and they do not know who to talk to about the money they spent in bringing in supporters.
One of the agents, Ibrahim Lawan, who said he is the Secretary of the PDP Youth Awareness Initiative, Kano, said that he was instructed to bring in 500 youth and women and to hire buses that will transport them to the venue of the rally in Kano city.
According to Mr. Lawan, each participant would be paid N500 on arrival, and N2, 000 for each bus. Those contracted to rent the crowd hired at least 50 busloads of supporters, he said.
However, when they arrived at the venue, everything went otherwise. “But to my utmost surprise and confusion, as we entered the venue we tried to locate the organizers but we could not see them. When I called them they said I should be patient as they would settle everything after the event. But almost immediately, we realized that the whole thing is a scam because nobody was talking to us again,” Mr. Lawan said.
According to him, they were left to source money and settle some of the youth who became restive and attacked them and their personal vehicles, and seized their belongings, including phones. Mr. Lawan said he managed to escape while two of his guards were injured in the fray that followed.
“This left us in rancour with over 600 angry youths who went wild due to frustrations of spending lots of hours, no food or water and also no available transportation back to their various destinations,” he said.
Another agent, Bello Dan Alkarya, who reportedly spoke with Premium Times, said he was asked to bring in women and youth to the venue and would be given N500 naira for each of them. However, he was short-changed and only N300 was paid for each person transported to the rally venue.
Premium Times reports that TAN has no official representation in Kano, the group has only two resource persons who are responsible for the entire northwest.
One of the officials, who agreed to speak, but on the condition his identity be protected, said he had received several complaints of people short-changed by the group after the event.
“I simply told them I am not an insider into the activities of TAN because I don’t know much about them. We are only two of us in the whole of North West Region and we don’t have any office. The only way I get to them is when they call me, I don’t know anything about them,” he said.
TAN’s Director of Communication and Strategy, Udenta Udenta, in a telephone interview on Saturday said that the association was not aware of the issue and could not have been involved in such an arrangement.
Mr. Lawan said he and others affected have decided to reach out to the media, the PDP leadership and the police.
TAN has been at the centre of controversy before. During its earlier rallies, the group staged the events at the peak of the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria defying complaints and warnings from Nigerians about the possibility of helping to spread the deadly virus.