Well I have been told a million times how we who run small parties do not have structure. INEC is preening to take our licenses. We are being marked, and judged, based on 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 8th Assembly – collaborating with President Buhari – amended the law as regards deregistration, but did not alter the law as regards registration of new 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.
Back to the issue of structures. I had cause the other day to think about the issue. I have always known that ‘structure’ in Nigeria is 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-envelop calculation of how much a party will require to host successful and constant meetings at National, State, Local Government and Ward levels. This will entail paying some sitting allowances – not underhand payments. I am assuming such a political party is full of honest, straightforward people, ordinary Nigerians who are interested in moving the nation forward, but who have their needs as struggling Nigerians. 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 is too small to get their attention. What we have here is a bare minimum. I have also ignored other expenses like renting of party offices, offering refreshments at meetings, renting of venues. 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 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 EXCO members at Federal, State, LG and Ward level will get sitting allowance for coming to the statutory meetings and documented in your party constitution, you will see magic. Everybody and their brother will come. Truant excos will be replaced by the clamor 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 excos, is also dragging. Money will work 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 4 times a year. A state EXCO member gets 30,000 (six meetings a year), a LG Exco member gets just N10,000 (for 12 meetings a year) and a ward Exco member gets just N5,000 (24 meetings a year – every 2 weeks).
30 National Excos. N100,000. 4 Meetings – N12,000,000
25 State Excos For 37 States At N30,000 For 6 Meetings – N166,500,000
15 Lg Exco Members For 774 Lgs At N10,000 Per Meeting (12 Meetings) – 1,393,200,000
8 Ward Exco Members For About 9,000 Wards. N5,000 Per Meeting – 24 Meetings – N8,640,000,000
Total Yearly – N10,211,700,000
DO THIS FOR JUST 3 YEARS BEFORE ANY ELECTION AND YOU WILL TAKE OVER NIGERIA, I ASSURE YOU
TOTAL FOR 3 YEARS UNDER THIS SCENARIO – 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 will now take you serious – though you have to battle entrenched parties who have been in the business for twenty years even though they’ve been using taxpayers’ money.
I scaled down to N70,000 sitting allowance for National Exco members, N20,000 for State Exco, N8,000 for LG Exco and N3,000 for Ward Exco. This is what you need per annum under this more frugal scenario:
30 NATIONAL EXCOS AT N70,000. 4 MEETINGS – N8,400,000
25 STATE EXCOS AT N20,000 EACH. 6 MEETINGS – N111,000,000
15 LG EXCOS FOR 774 LGS. AT N8,000. 12 MEETINGS – N 1,114,560,000
8 EXCOS AT EACH WARD, PAID N3,000 EACH PER SITTING, FOR 9000 WARDS. – N5,184,000,000
TOTAL (2ND SCENARIO) N6,417,960,000
TOTAL FOR 3 YEARS – N19,253,880,000
In words (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 so transparent, structured and equitable. 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 behavior, 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 guys 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 analyze the amounts. This first sum for 3 years (N30bn) is chickenfeed for Lagos State. It is less than one month IGR (internally generated revenue). The second amount is less than what Akwa Ibom State collects from FAAC in any given month. Those guys are sorted. Their parties are ‘strong’.
As for the rest of us/you, are you ready to raise these kinds of monies? Or should we issue bonds? LOL. Who will invest in such bonds? I can assure you we will create a revolution with these amounts if we can muster such and if somehow, the youths will keep their heads. Now, that is an impossible thing to ask for when billions 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 have 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?