Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has been alleged to be funding the 2023 presidential campaign of the national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, with purported monthly transfer of N2.5 billion to Alpha Beta LLC. The Lagos governor was said to have allegedly increased the monthly share of the state generated revenue to Tinubu through Alpha Beta LLC from N800 million to N2.5 billion. Two former governors of the state, Babatunde Fashola and Akinwumi Ambode, were said to be allegedly making a monthly transfer of N800 million to Alpha Beta LLC believed to be controlled by Tinubu.
A report by The Gazette, an online publication, alleged that “State officials and financial records…detailed how Mr. Sanwo-Olu started paying N2.5 billion to Alpha Beta, the controversial tax processor for Lagos State government, about a year after he assumed office in an arrangement officials said was aimed at warehousing funds for Mr. Tinubu’s campaign.”
It was alleged that Tinubu still maintains firm control of Lagos State government after over 20 years of governing the state, and extended the grip of the state to the Sanwo-Olu administration, in piling up funds for the presidential bid.
It was insinuated that Nigerians had suspected that Tinubu’s presidential ambition would be financed by “the politician’s vessel of ill-gotten cash and unredeemed favours.”
Alpha Beta was revealed to be “incorporated in 2002 to handle computation, tracking and reconciliation of internally-generated revenue in Lagos.” The incorporation of Alpha Beta was done when Tinubu was Governor of Lagos State. The Lagos State House of Assembly was also alleged to have approved 10% monthly commission of accrued revenue of the state government to Alpha Beta.
It was purported that after the completion of Tinubu’s two terms in 2007, the former governor’s link with Alpha Beta began to manifest.
It was noted that attempts by former Governor Fashola to oppose or halt the “arbitrary and exorbitant monthly payment to Alpha Beta in 2010,” triggered political confrontation from the party leader towards the 2011 general elections.
It was alleged that financial records revealed that transfers to Alpha Beta from the state government treasury since 2013 has been about N800 million per month. Former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode succeeded Governor Fashola in 2015. Ambode also sustained the N800 million monthly transfer to Alpha Beta in his one term of four years.
In about one year Governor Sanwo-Olu succeeded Ambode – 2019 – the governor was alleged to have in mid-2020, raised the monthly share of Alpha Beta from the Lagos State revenue from N800 million to N2.5 billion. This was alleged to be part of pro-active preparations for the life ambition of former Governor Tinubu to become Nigerian president on the platform of the ruling APC.
Official documents and officials of the state government were said to have revealed that “Alpha Beta received N2,345, 816, 266.122 and N2, 378, 277, 356. 55 into its UBA account number 1021477046 from Lagos government account on July 2, 2020, and July 24.
“Similar amounts were paid into the firm’s bank accounts monthly throughout last year.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu was said to allegedly be paying an excess of N1.7 billion in the monthly N2.5 billion transfer to Alpha Beta from the previous N800 million allocation in the taxes and other statutory deductions transactions.
It was alleged that the increase of the transfer to Alpha Beta was decided after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. An official of the state government was alleged to have revealed that Tinubu and Governor Sanwo-Olu resolved that “it was more strategic to start stockpiling cash early enough due to the uncertainties of the global health catastrophe.”
Official was alleged to have declared that “they have turned Lagos State and Alpha Beta into sister subsidiaries of Tinubu Group of Companies.”
The state official was cited to have argued that Alpha Beta has about 71 personnel, and “does not have the capacity to legitimately earn billions every month and should not be receiving funds well above its 10 per cent commission from total tax receipts per month.”
The official had also argued that Sanwo-Olu has no legal justification to unilaterally increase Alpha Beta’s payment, noting that the governor did it for self-protection, “not expecting any backlash from Lagosians or the law enforcement.”
While Tinubu was said to be avoiding questions about his interest in Alpha Beta, it was alleged that “behind the scenes, funds transferred to the firm from Lagos government accounts have been directly traced to his family members, business interests and political cronies.”
Suspicious financial transaction between Alpha Beta and Ocean Trust, purported to be ‘an onshore Shell venture which Mr. Tinubu has been using to empty funds into Lagos-based media group TVC and other businesses he had publicly admitted owning,’ was revealed in November 2020.
Tinubu was reported in November 2020 to have opened a campaign office in Abuja for the 2023 presidential contest. The campaign headquarters was said to be situated on a land mass of 2,700 square metres in the heart of Maitama. While Tinubu denied the report, his loyalists later accepted it, explaining that the office was opened by Tinubu’s associates. State officials alleged that Governor Sanwo-Olu purportedly Offered financial support for the acquisition of the property.
Governor Sanwo-Olu was alleged to be disbursing state funds to finance Tinubu’s presidential campaign to justify his sponsorship by Tinubu to replace Ambode. Tinubu was said to have stopped Ambode from second term because he opposed the transfer of state funds to him.
The APC national leader, Tinubu, was said to have declined confirming or denying the use of Alpha Beta to raise funds from the Lagos State government to finance his presidential campaign. He refuted having control over Governor Sanwo-Olu or the Lagos State resources.
Tinubu was cited to have responded to enquiries thus: “I am not His Excellency Jide Sanwo-Olu.
“I have no control over how state resources are allocated.”
The Commissioner for Information, Gbenga Omotoso, was said to have dismissed the report as a rumour.
The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Gboyega Akosile, was cited to have said: “I don’t know where you got your figures. “But the revenue of the consultant is dependent on the revenue generated by the state.
“The governor has not tampered with the rate of Alpha Beta.
“It is a fallacious claim that the governor has increased revenues accruable to Alpha Beta. The governor is a financial expert and he understands the nitty-gritty of finance and will not tamper with such arrangements.”
The Chairman of Alpha Beta, Tunde Badejo, was said to be silent on the report.
Some other political actors in Lagos State, including Bode George, have been questioning Tinubu’s source of wealth, as well as his perceived perpetual control of Lagos State government and resources.
@ The Gazette