Aso Rock has denied being the source of finance for the 8,000 groups presently canvassing support for President Godluck Jonathan.
The Special Adviser to President Jonathan on Political Matters, Prof. Rufai Alkali, said it was not true the Presidency was funding the groups.
Alkali told The Punch that there were many groups across the country that claimed to be supporting the “transformation agenda of the Goodluck Jonathan administration,” but that they were being privately funded by their sponsors.
He said most of the identified support groups voluntarily came under one umbrella, the Goodluck Support Group for proper coordination and administrative convenience since they all share a common goal of mobilising support for the Federal Government.
Alkali, who happens to be the national coordinator of the GSG, said, “I want to say that these groups are completely independent and self-financing and the Presidency does not in any way foot the bills for the activities of these groups.
“They are voluntary non-governmental organisations and every Nigerian is aware that these NGOs source their funds independent of government.”.
Alkali went further to explain, “The preliminary observation from the report of the team is that contrary to our earlier position that there were about 3, 000 groups rooting for Mr. President, we now have more than 7, 000 support groups nationwide, all calling on President Jonathan to declare for the Presidential race.
“Indeed, initially we printed 5,000 forms that were distributed to the NGOs and other Support Groups but the forms soon ran out and we had to print additional 2,000.
“As I am speaking to you now, we have at least another 1,000 groups demanding to be screened.”
Alkali added that “with the report of the Screening and Evaluation Committee now submitted to us, we are going to the next level, that is to say, we shall undertake content analysis of the reports with a view to properly positioning the various support groups for the challenges of the 2015 general election.
“We want to assure every support group, irrespective of their size, from two-man group to 20 million-man group, that they are all important to us and we shall carry them along.”
Also speaking on the matter, Mr Olusola Oke, the Deputy coordinator and former PDP guber candidate in Ondo said the exercise was carried out with the aim of making sure that the groups are not used for other purposes.
“These groups are volunteering groups and are supposed to be funding their activities. They are not campaign groups, because we have not started campaigning for the President, who of course has not declared his intention to run in 2015.
“The way the groups were carrying on before, some of them might not be noticed. We need to notice them and also know the characters of those behind the groups.