An investigative report by The Punch has shown that a high-powered committee set up to revamp the fortunes of the Peoples Democratic Party has submitted a report that may throw the fractious party into a new crisis. Among others, the committee advised the party to sell its membership and also restrict senior government positions and other perks to the highest bidder.
Sunday Punch reports that according to reliable sources within the party, the plan had been accepted by the leadership of the Senator Ahmed Makarfi faction, which also set up the committee.
The Makarfi faction is the bigger of the two factions fighting for the soul of the former ruling party. It has the support of an overwhelming number of former governors, ministers and power brokers.
However, it suffered a major setback at the courts recently when the other faction led by former Borno State Governor, Ali Modu Sheriff, was declared as the authentic executive of the party. The Makarfi faction has however, challenged the decision of the Court of Appeal at the Supreme Court.
According to Sunday Punch findings, the committee, which has 201 members and is chaired by a former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana, is moving around the country, distributing copies of the report to prominent members of the party.
Among those who are said to have received it are former President Goodluck Jonathan; a former Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih; and a former National Security Adviser; Gen. Mohammed Gusau (retd.) Some other members of the BoT and the national caretaker committee have also collected copies of the document, sources say.
The report, which was seen by The Punch during the week, groups the party’s membership into six categories in descending order of members’ financial contributions. Those in the highest categories are to have special benefits based on their financial contributions to the party.
The categories are: Platinum, Diamond, Gold, Silver, Standard and Students in Tertiary Institutions.
According to the report, male members of the party who desire to be Platinum members are to pay N500,000 a year or N50,000 monthly instalments while women are to pay half the amount.
The benefits accruing to those in this category include “opportunities to attend the expanded national caucus meetings of the party, be invited to social and political events of the party with the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the national chairman of the party.”
Members in this category are also to contribute and participate in the formulation of key policy decisions for the next general election.
“Consideration shall be given to platinum card-carrying members for appointment into boards of Federal Government-owned parastatals, agencies, ministerial appointments as well as other benefits that accrue to the party,” the report says.
Other perks, the report says, “are inclusive, but not limited to procurements, contracts and projects (awards) at all levels of the party governance structure.”
For those in the diamond category, they are expected to pay N250,000 (men) or N200,000 (women) annually to the party.
The document also states that diamond card-carrying members will enjoy most of the privileges associated with those in the Platinum group.
The report adds that those in diamond category “will (however) not be eligible for consideration into the membership of Board of Trustees as well as contest for the position of President and national party offices as the national chairman, deputy national chairman and national secretary.”
Gold card members will be expected to pay N200,000 (men) or N100,000 (women) minimum a year. They are expected to enjoy the benefits accruing to those in the diamond card category.
Holders of Silver cards in the party, according to the document, are expected to contribute N100,000 (men) or N50,000 (women) per annum to the party.
But they will not enjoy contracts from the government or be allowed to contest for national offices or be considered for appointment as ministers.
However, Silver members may be considered for commissionership appointments as well as other benefits that may accrue to the party such as “procurements, contracts and projects” at the state levels of the party’s governance structures.
Members who cannot afford to part with the sums quoted above will be asked to cough out N3,000 (men) and N2,000 (women) annually. However, they will only be allowed to contest for public posts at the local government and ward levels. Those in this category are called “Standard membership” card holders.
Student membership is planned to be free, but the document says it will be limited to “students in tertiary institutions approved by the Federal Ministry of Education.”
In his reaction, the National Chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, said the cash-for-membership plan would not work, adding that the party was not for sale. Sheriff added that the plan of the Makarfi-led caretaker committee was to handover the party to the rich.
Speaking through the Acting National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Bernard Mikko, the former Governor of Borno State said, “That idea won’t work. We are talking and planning to handover the party to the people, yet some people are secretly planning an alliance to hijack it.
“The PDP is not for sale. We won’t allow it to happen. The party is for ordinary Nigerians who are committed to its ideals and not for a few, who are desperate to hijack it.”
Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, also condemned the new membership plan.
“The committee should stop misrepresenting us. It is going about dishing out the report to eminent members of our party without authorisation,” he said.
But the spokesperson for the Makarfi faction, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, disagreed with the critics of the new plan, saying that it would be wrong for anyone to say that the committee was not serving the interest of the party.
Interestingly, the party’s thinkers would still like to have a situation where government funds political parties. In the report, the Gana-led committee said the Federal Government should continue to fund political parties.
It said, “It has been established that political parties all over the world are funded by governments of their various countries. This was also in practice in Nigeria before a PDP-controlled National Assembly stopped it.
“Public funding of political parties made it morally right for INEC to audit political parties’ assets since most of the funds came from the government. It is hereby recommended that the PDP should collaborate with other political parties to amend the Electoral Law to restore regular funding of political parties by the government.”
The committee further recommended that the party should invest five per cent of its annual income in commercial companies. In order to make more money, the committee said the party must establish companies that would bid for contracts as well.
The report said, “It is recommended that five percent of the party’s income be invested in reputable fund managers and blue-chip companies such as pension funds, treasury bills, bonds, telecommunications companies, oil companies etc. NEC should determine such companies from time to time.
“It is further recommended, if approved by the appropriate organs of the party, to establish PDP incorporated organisations to handle party investments and also bid for contracts.”