The 5th Defence Witness, Mr. Richard Ihediwa told the court that due to paucity of funds, the former National Publicity Secretary of the PDP Chief Olisa Metuh was funding the activities of publicity of the party with personal resources.
Led in evidence by Defence Counsel, Emeka Etiaba SAN, Ihediwa told the court that the financial status of the party’s publicity was so bad that the party could not hire enough hands to drive its publicity.
According to him it was so bad that the party could not pay for advertorials it placed in the media.
He said he and Metuh had to be up and doing by 4.30 am everyday to start monitoring media reports on the party and the government so as to be able to make informed decisions and to promptly respond to issues regarding the party in the media and to guide the National Working Committee to make informed decisions on issues relating to the public.
He said it came to a point that due to the heavy workload, he wanted to resign but Metuh begged him and asked him to understand that the office was not adequately funded and that he had severally made case to the National Working Committee on the issue to no avail.
Ihediwa said he later became sick due to the workload and told Metuh that he will not be able to continue unless he hires additional hands. He said at this time, Metuh himself also had health issues because of the workload. It was at this point that Metuh at last hired additional five media professionals at his personal expense.
He said apart from using his personal resources to pay the five professionals, Metuh also used his personal funds to buy equipment including computer laptops, video and still cameras, recorders and also to pay for their running costs.
“I was not happy that he was using his personal resources to fund the publicity of the party and I accosted him on that. He told me he has decided to succeed as the National Publicity Secretary and for that he was willing to make personal sacrifices to achieve results. I am aware that even as we speak, the party has not refunded him the money he spend on running the publicity at that time.”, he said.
Ihediwa went further to tell the court how the media team under Metuh went beyond projecting the image and achievements of the party to projecting and showcasing the achievements of the government formed by the party at the federal and state levels.
Led in evidence in chief, Ihediwa told the court that sometime in November, 2014, the former President, Goodluck Jonathan told Metuh that he had some issues relating to the stability of his government and the nation and wanted the media team to come up with strategies to douse the tension in the polity and to put him in good stead ahead of the 2015 elections to enable him win the presidential election.
“At that time, there was so much tension in the country. There was a doomsday prophesy by some foreign interests that the nation was going to disintegrate by 2015 and that the elections would be marred by violence and crisis. There was so much fear and tension that Nigerians living in some parts of the country they considered unsafe were moving to other places and there were fears ahead of the elections. So the President wanted the team to work out strategies to douse the tension and to put him in good stead ahead of the election. We were told that other groups have also been asked to come up with strategies for presentation to the president.”
He said later the former National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Adamu Muazu informed the team that the President was ready to receive our presentation. Metuh immediately called in the lead consultant, Yomi Badejo, who flew in from Lagos. The group reviewed the presentation and then went to the Villa.
Ihediwa said at the Villa, the team was ushered into a room were they met other groups who also made presentations. According to him there were other dignitaries and government functionaries present at the meeting including, former Vice President Namadi Sambo, former Senate President David Mark, former governor of Cross River, Senator Liyel Imoke, former governor of Anambra state, Peter Obi and some aides of the President; Dr. Doyin Okupe and Reuben Abati.
He said the former National Security Adviser to the President, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) was not present at the meeting.
The matter was adjourned to November 3, 2016 for continuation of trial