I have been told a million times how we who run small political parties do not have structures. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is preening to withdraw our licenses. We are being marked, and judged on the basis of the results of one semester. A deregistration – if it takes place – will be equivalent to infanticide – a very cruel, unreasonable and criminal act. There are no grounds actually for such to happen. The Eighth National Assembly, collaborating with President Buhari, amended the law regarding deregistration, but did not alter the law with regard to the registration of new poliical parties. If parties are deregistered today, given than the law for registration is still the same, most of such parties will qualify for immediate re-registration. It becomes a revolving door scenario. What needs to be tightened is the registration of new parties. And INEC knows its customers. They know the one-man parties, the unserious ones, the one with no offices and so on. INEC must however not get used to APCPDP, two parties that are joined at the brains and heart. APCPDP represent our legacy of mediocrity, corruption and inefficiency and the lack of productivity. What we need is something different from what these two parties – that have no distinction in ideologies and parade the same elements – have to offer. The new parties are the solution, not the problem; at least some of us.
Back to the issue of structures. I had cause the other day to think about this. I have always known that ‘structure’ in Nigeria means money, plain and simple. If you have enough money to grab the attention of Nigerians, you will get their commitment. I decided to do a back-of-the-envelope calculation of how much a party will require to host successful and constant meetings at the national, state, local government and ward levels. This will entail paying some sitting allowances – not underhand payments. I am assuming such a political party seeking to carry this out is full of honest, straightforward people, ordinary Nigerians, who are interested in moving the nation forward, but who have their needs as struggling citizens. This analysis does not consider those who have enough money not to need the allowances, and those who may think the allowances stated in this analysis are too small to get their attention. What we have here is a bare minimum. I have also ignored other expenses, like the renting of party offices, the offering of refreshments at meetings, the renting of venues, etc. I am saying that even if meetings take place in open fields but you can offer the singular thing that gets the attention of people, you can still cause a political revolution in Nigeria. You can recruit people who are so crazy about your ideas and will willingly go out and infect dozens of others.
Most people who will have time for party affairs are actually deprived, unemployed, underemployed, or just very angry with the system – save for a few outliers. Those are also the people who join new parties more easily. The strategy of hoping people will contribute towards a party en masse, is not quite working, if you ask me. So to create a ‘structure’ is fairly easy, but expensive. It needn’t take much time too. If you say that the executive council (EXCO) members at federal, state, local government and ward levels will get sitting allowance for coming to the statutory meetings and it is documented in your party constitution, you will see magic. Everybody and their brothers will come. Truant EXCO members will be replaced by the clamour of those who want to sit, plan, discuss and get one or two needs met in the process. The current scenario where we young parties rely on sacrifice from EXCO members, is also dragging. Money will work the magic.
So below, I have painted two scenarios. In the first, a national EXCO member gets N100,000 for attending the statutory meeting (including air travel), say four times a year. A state EXCO member gets N30,000 (for each of six meetings a year), a local government EXCO member gets just N10,000 (for each of 12 meetings a year) and a ward EXCO member gets just N5,000 (for each of 24 meetings a year – every two weeks).
- 30 National EXCO members at N100,000 for four meetings, equals to N12,000,000
● 25 state EXCO members for 37 states at N30,000 for six meetings, equals to N166,500,000
● 15 local government EXCO members for 774 LGAs at N10,000 per meeting (12 meetings), equals to N1,393,200,000
● 8 ward EXCO members for about 9,000 wards at N5,000 for each of 24 meetings, equals to N8,640,000,000
Total yearly spendon meetings will be N10,211,700,000
Do this for just three years before any election and you will take over Nigera, I assure you.
Total for three years under this scenario is N30,635,100,000. In words: thirty billion, six hundred and thirty five million, one hundred thousand naira only).
I know that if you are consistent with this sitting allowance, people will take notice, take your party serious, come for meetings, spread the word and be ready to die for your cause. Many will also contest on the party platform, and perhaps you may even raise at least some of this money back from selling nomination forms to people who now take you serious – although you have to battle the entrenched APCPDP, who have been in the business for twenty years, even though they’ve been using taxpayers’ money.
I scaled down to a N70,000 sitting allowance for national EXCO members, N20,000 for state EXCO members, N8,000 for those at the local government and N3,000 for the ward EXCO members.
This is what you need per annum under this more frugal scenario:
- 30 National EXCO members at N70,000 for four meetings, equals to N8,400,000
● 25 state EXCO members at N20,000 each for six meetings, equals to N111,500,000
● 15 local government EXCO members for 774 LGAs at N8,000 per meeting (12 meetings), equals to N1,114,560,000
● 8 ward EXCO members for about 9,000 wards at N3,000 for each of 24 meetings, equals to N5,184,000,000
Total yearly spendon meetings (second scenario) will be N6,417,960,000
Total for three yearsequals to N19,253,880,000.
In words, this is nineteen billion, two hundred and fifty three million, eight hundred and eighty thousand naira only.
The so-called ‘big parties’ have had access to this kind of money over time, even though not in a transparent, structured and equitable manner. Many of our big men dug into such monies and became billionaires overnight. Of course, fights will break out in the small parties when the chairman of each unit wants to assert himself and collect more money than the rest, and then the vice, and the secretary, and treasurer. We are Nigerians and I have seen enough of our behaviour, especially when it comes to monetary issues. We must never forget though that PDP and APC’s progenitors (AD, APGA, etc), were fully funded by INEC to meet these expenses in the past, but today, both parties have their people at all levels who can deliver the money straight from the coffers of government. In other words, your taxes (at least you pay VAT sometimes when you go to Shoprite don’t you?) has/is been/being used to fund these ‘mega parties’ without your consent. In fact, these small new parties deserve commendation for using personal funding. We have never been given a dime by INEC or anyone. Instead INEC has taken money from us. The chatter about deregistration is almost looking like advance fee fraud because our payment is with INEC.
Let us analyse the amounts. This first sum for three years (N30 billion) is chickenfeed for Lagos State. It is less than one month’s internally generated revenue (IGR). The second amount is less than what Akwa Ibom State collects from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) in any given month. Those guys are sorted. Their parties are ‘strong’.
As for the rest of us, are we ready to raise these kinds of monies? Or should we issue bonds? Who will invest in such bonds? I can assure people that we will create a revolution with these amounts if we can muster such and if somehow, the youth will keep their heads together. Now, that is an impossible thing to ask for when billions of naira are involved! I just felt I should share this though. This is the ONLY way to create a STRUCTURE for a party in Nigeria today. Any other ideas? Don’t ever think that big grammar, oratory, and so on can do it. Gani, Soyinka, and many others tried that option in the past, to little avail. The ramming down of Nigerians into poverty over the decades has removed all illusions and all romanticism. To get our people to take you serious, you need real cash, constant cash, consistent cash. It is that bad. Do you want a revolution?