Being excerpts of a memorandum submitted to the Senator Ike Ekweremadu-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) reforms committee by Lagos PDP chieftain, Hon. (Engr.) Olayinka Olushola-Obimakinde, MSNE, ANSE, NICE, President/Chief Executive Officer, Sykaphia Group of Companies, President/National Coordinator, Voice of Love Grassroots Empowerment Initiative (VLGEI) after the 2015 General Elections.
It is with a great sense of high esteem for our leaders, elders, and statesmen of our great party, the PDP,that I put forward this personal thoughts on our current political situation and proffer possible ways forward. One hopes that this memorandum will be useful for the needed repositioning of our great party from its current position to where it needs to be.
My name is Engr. Olayinka Olusola-Obimakinde. I have been a committed member of PDP since the year , my current political base is Alimosho LGA, Lagos.
I must start by commending our dearest outgoing (now former) President Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, a gentleman indeed for the historic, unequalled and unparalleled statesmanship and spirit ofsportsmanship he demonstrated when he congratulated the incoming (now President) President–elect, Major Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, while the presidential election numbers or votes were still being announced and it became apparent to President Jonathan that our great party, the PDP, had lost the presidency to the opposition (now ruling) All Progressives Congress (APC).
By this noble act of conceding defeat, our dear President leaves a legacy worthy of emulation by all African leaders and others around the world who might find themselves in the same situation in future.
PDP: Why Restructure, Reposition?
The need for a restructuring of the PDP right away in order to reposition it on winning ways in the nearest electoral opportunity possible cannot be overemphasised. However, one must stress that the restructuring herein proposed must be thorough and holistic, cutting across all the organs of PDP at the National, State and the LGA, if it is to yield desired dividends.
The defeat PDP suffered in the just concluded 2015 election must not be treated as a simple political reversal limited to us, members of the party only. Rather, it should be seen first as a setback to the political struggle of the common man, and then the defeat of truly committed PDP members who sacrificed everything towards victory for the party, which eluded us at the presidential level especially, and finally a defeat of the true wishes of the Nigerian People who believe in the PDP.
The Founding Fathers of the PDP had noble ideas rooted in time-tested democratic principles when they formed our great party. Their intention, we must make clear, was to build a party that truly reflects the democratic values and interests of the Nigerian People. Little wonder the party became the largest party in Africa and dominant in Nigeria in just under 16 years. However, if truth must be told certain leaders and elders with selfish undemocratic agenda infiltrated and cornered the party structures over the years, insidiously introducing their own self-centred ideologies driven by unbridled cravings for personal gains. These individuals operates in caucuses and groups that do not necessarily serve the overall interest of our great party, thereby undermining the noble democratic values upon which our great party was founded and built in the first place.
I have been privileged to work with some of our leaders and elders over the last 15 years and have seen a few defect into the opposition parties for the singular reason they felt that the party did not let them have their way. If given the chance, though, the conducts of the defectors might not, in the long run, been in the interest of the party. The truth is that these individual who were products of the PDP suddenly began to feel bigger than the party, This is only political aberration, for no man can be bigger than the party that produced him, for the party is supreme.
This selfish gene has over the years spread like a virus to most of the states of the federation where PDP remains in control, foisting a defective leadership structure on our great party, which in turn sent the wrong signals about the PDP to the Nigerian People and created a crisis of confidence or among the electorate for our party.
Some of the peculiar leadership structural defects one could enumerate without any fear of contradiction are:
1. Caucus leaders imposed party officials from state to the wards on party members;
2. Groups and Caucuses carved out structural spheres of control or influence within the general PDP structure for themselves as we went into the 2015 Elections, thereby working at cross-purposes, even as each group or caucus claimed to be working for the PDP;
3. No proper leadership structure audit system in place since most of the leaders on the leadership pyramid in the state are surrogates of these different groups and caucuses;
4. These caucuses and groups struggled for political relevance, dominance and leadership among themselves, thereby causing cracks in the PDP structure, loss of confidence among voters and diminished enthusiasm to work for the party.
5. These caucuses and groups could, however, have been put to better use for the overall victory of the PDP. One had expected that at some point after the caucuses and groups candidates secured the party’s tickets as candidates and when the campaign proper started, these groups/caucuses would have collapse their fragmentary structures into the central PDP campaign structure, so that the state/national party executives determined the direction of the campaign and deploy mutually agreed strategies to achieve the same goal all of us sought.
What was however seen was that these caucuses simply began to operate independently of the party, creating parallel leadership, thereby working at cross-purposes against the party, which inevitable led to the loss of unity among party faithful, especially at the grassroots, the overall failure of the PDP in the 2015 Elections.
6. The aspirants who eventually emerged as PDP candidates had scant respect for the party leadership, following the way these candidates were selected, as against being democratically elected. This disrespect for party leaders was also aggravated by acrimonious feelings emanating from how these candidates were unduly pressed financially and otherwise by party leaders, before giving them the PDP tickets.
PDP: The Way Forward
In my well weighted view, there are two major points of crisis that account for our electoral loss in the 2015 general elections. These are:
1) Congresses Election / Party Executive Elections
2) Party Funding System for Election.
1. Congress Election
Instead of maintaining the status quo, whereby caucuses and group leaders are allowed to sponsor their surrogates into executive positions during party congresses, all aspirants should be mandated to campaign directly to PDP faithful and actively canvass for their votes. This is to ensure that grassroots PDP members have the opportunity to choose their own leaders, in whom they repose trust to provide quality leadership.
Proposed Methodology Of Congress Election
(A) Ward Congress
(I) Congress Election Committee to be set up at each ward level;
(II) This committee should be responsible for the appointment of between 15 and 21 delegates for the congress vote;
(III) Interested party member for each of these executive posts should be made known publicly to the ward members for their assessment/criticism/objections before their final approval;
(IV) Each of the interested aspirants should be mandated to go round the ward, campaigning to the PDP grassroots, thereby leaving the choice to the people who know them in and out;
(V) No leader or elder of the party at LGA level should be allowed to sponsor or suggest any candidate from any ward indiscriminately to seek elective position of a different ward thereby creating crisis within the party.
(VI) If this procedure is carried out as transparently as being suggested, each ward would have been responsible for choosing a trusted leader known to them and approved by them. This will engender positive political enthusiasm and greater commitment to serve and be served.
1. LGA Congress Election Committee should be set up;
2. The committee should call for appointment of at least two (2) delegates from each ward as approved by the appointed new ward chairman, the ward chairman should throw the choice of the delegate open to its Exco and agreed to by the ward members;
3. These delegates representing their wards are then approved by the LGA Congress Election Committee for the LGA Executive Committee Voting Exercise, for example, say 1 ward produces 2 delegates each, in this case to choose their trusted leaders into the LGA Exco;
4. These interested LGA Exco aspirants should be mandated to campaign across all the wards before delegates are called for the ward;
5. The LGA Congress Election Committee alongside the appointed delegates from each ward now constitute the Apex Election Committee to conduct the transparent voting exercise to choose the people’s leaders at the LGA level;
6. The Congress Election Committee must resist any form of manipulation or imposition from any caucus or group leaders during this exercise.
1. State Congress Election Committee should be set up;
2. The Elected LGA Chairman to choose at least 2 or 3 delegates after a due consultation with all major political leaders and other relevant stake holders of the party from the LGA to cast their vote for the choice of the LGA State Chairman who truly represent the voice of the grassroots
3. Except In special circumstances where the Party Headquarters have to intervene in the appointment of the State Chairman for reasons in the overall interest of the party, in such cases where the person may represent the interest of the Party in caretaker leadership capacity, organizing Congress to elect substantive State Executive for the party in such affected State must be done with absolute transparency and fairness in allowing a level playing ground for all State Exco aspirants, consultation must be thorough and wide to ensure all LGA delegates truly represent the choice of the grassroot, a transparent process like this will engender the emergence of a State Chairman that truly represent the state from LGA to the zonal wards.
4. The State Congress Election Committee and the delegates from the LGA’s should form the Apex Election Committee for the state, and should conduct the voting exercise in a most transparently acceptable way to the people of the state;
5. The LGA CHAIRMEN should be allowed to interrogate the political profiles and antecedents of the state chairmanship aspirants and the other interested persons aspiring for the party state executive offices, to ensure that true democrats with long-standing and proven political experiences are elected into the state party Exco.
(2) The Party Funding System
The funding pattern of the 2015 General Elections should also be examined and reviewed. According to Chapter 9 (FUNDING) Item 51 (a-f) of PDP Amended Constitution of 2012, the party also has borrowing powers as reflected in item 53 ( 1-2) of Chapter 9 of the PDP Constitution
These are some of the areas I pray that the National Working Committee (NWC) or the National Executive would look into for urgent correction or intervention:
1. No party member or interested donor should hand money or support fund to candidate on behalf of the party without the knowledge of the party;
2. Any willing donor who wishes to support the party should pay directly into a well-known account of the party. Donors should be issued receipts for all donated funds;
3. There should be proper follow-up on fund deployed from Party National headquarters account to states for election campaign purposes in order to ensure that the fund is transparently and judiciously expended as directed by the party.
4. The party should never hand election money to any candidate in order to avert possible financial mismanagement accusation against the state PDP leaders, and to prevent errors of the past where such monies meant for campaign ends in wrong pockets thereby exposing the party to avoidable electoral failure and subjecting the grassroot party faithful to pain of party failures again.
5. Detailed information of all funds sent to any state for the purpose of campaigning or election should be made available to all leadership stakeholders within the state PDP structure;
6. Finally the NWC should set up a more transparent, auditable system of fund deployment for campaign/election purposes, e.g. set up a post-election fund deployment auditing system in other to impose appropriate discipline if any member is found wanting.
Permit me to humbly conclude this memorandum by expressing my fervent hope that your highly esteemed committee will consider some the suggestions herein made with a view to apply these corrective measures in moving the PDP forward and getting our great party back on winning tracts as quickly as possible for the 2019 General Elections.
Please accept my best regard.
Long live the PDP!
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Engr. Olayinka Olushola-Obimakinde, MSNE, ANSE, NICE
Deputy National Chairman
The National Secretary
The Deputy National Secretary
The National Treasurer
The National Financial Secretary
The National Organizing Secretary
The National Publicity Secretary
The National Auditor
The National Legal Adviser
The National Woman Leader
The National Youth Leader.