PDP’s Wadata House Of Commotion
Saying that this is not best of time for the once ruling party, now in opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party is like stating the obvious. Apart from losing political power at the centre for the first time in the last 16 years to All Progressives Congress (APC), the party’s national leadership has recently been at dagger drawn with workers at its national secretariat Wadata House Abuja. The bone of contention was a circular circulated by the leadership notifying the workers of its plan to reduce the staff strength and their salary by 50 percent.
A plan which had pitched the workers against the party leadership, and culminated in allegations, and counter allegation. The development has also attracted the attention of the security agencies as personnel of the Nigerian Police have been drafted to the Secretariat to maintain order. Speaking to The Guardian on the crisis, one of the workers who have been working at the Secretariat since1999, who pleaded anonymity said that members of the National Working Committee (NWC) see themselves as the owners of the party now, since the party has no president in power that can call them to order.
The worker said: “The NWC members have concluded plan on how they will keep themselves in office when their tenures expire in March next year. Their plan is that when their tenures expire, the acting chairman, Mr. Uche Secondus will take over as substantive national chairman, the National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Olisa Metuh will become National Organising Secretary, while the National Organizing Secretary, Alhaji Mustapha Bello will become deputy national chairman. The members are trying to build political dynasty in the party’s secretariat and lord it over every member of the party.
“The bottom line is that some of us have worked at the party secretariat in the last 16 years. There is an establishment manual which states the terms of employment. The party leadership is expected to stick to it. They should give us our terminal benefits before sacking us. They just signed cheque for our July salary on Tuesday after we have threatened to expose them more because we have their dossier. The worker alleged that before their salary cheque was signed on Tuesday, the acting national chairman has demanded for N100 million to hire a standby private jet that will be carrying him round the country.
On why the party governors and members of the Board of Trustees have remained quite since crisis erupted, the worker said they are tired of the financial profligacy and extortion that has characterised the present leadership of the party of which some of them were victims during the party primaries. “The governors and Board of Trustees (BoT) members are solidly behind us in this struggle because they were equally victims of the cash-and-carry leadership style of the present NWC members. Members of the NWC owned choice property and range of exotic cars within and outside the country from the illegal and looted funds from the party’s treasury. We have evidences to substantiate our allegations against them.” According to the worker, President Goodluck in November last year gave the party N450 million for media publicity, but one of the members of the NWC used the money to purchase choice houses in Dubai.
On why the crisis is happening now, the worker said that looting of party treasury has been a continuous exercise in the national secretariat, especially under the current party leadership. “It is so because the party secretariat is being run like every other establishment. The leaders have easy access to the party treasury. Before the last general elections, the NWC members shared millions of naira among themselves. “Immediately after we lost the presidential election, the members withdrew another millions of Naira made from the party nomination forms and shared among themselves.
This was because they were afraid that President Jonathan would sack them before leaving office. On where the current development will lead the party to, the worker said the party is finished, and that is why they are fighting to rescue it from these buccaneers masquerading as party leaders. “Some of these present NWC members do not know how the party was founded. They cannot mention any member of the G-34 members that formed the party.
They are mere interloper trying to destroy house they did not know how it was built.” “The publicity secretary, Olisa Metuh is a man who started in 1999 as a zonal youth leader, then National Ex-officio, Acting National Auditor, Zonal Vice Chairman and now publicity secretary. It is either his umbilical cord was buried at Wadata Plaza or that he can’t survive on any other thing except the PDP.
Responding to the allegations by the workers, Special assistant to the national publicity secretary, Mr. Richard Ihediwa in a statement said: “The attention of the Office of the National Publicity Secretary has been drawn to a press statement by persons purporting to be officials of PDP Staff Welfare Association, wherein they engaged in direct attack and threats on the person of the National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh. “From all indications, those behind the statement chose to drift from issues and narrowed on the National Publicity Secretary. This is not unexpected given the role of the National Publicity Secretary in the rebuilding of our great party and how uncomfortable the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has been for his outspokenness.
“ We are aware that the anti-PDP forces have easily found a handful of disgruntled PDP staffs as willing tools to attack Chief Metuh with a view to bringing him to public odium, distract him and deny our party a credible voice to propagate its positions. These forces had even gone to the extent of engineering some discontented PDP members to portray statements by the National Publicity Secretary as his personal opinions in the attempt to discredit and intimidate him. “For the avoidance of doubt, we wish to state categorically that the National Publicity Secretary will not be deterred or detracted by such threats and cheap blackmails as he remains committed to his role in the rebuilding of the PDP and in providing firm, credible and issue based opposition to the ruling party.
This office would not join issues with these elements, however we make bold to state that Chief Olisa Metuh, being aware of the challenges that comes with his new role has offered himself, his office as well as all his private companies for probe by the Department of State Services (DSS) or any other government agency for that matter,” the statement read. Also commenting on the crisis, one-time national secretary and national chairman of the party, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo told The Guardian that dismantling the party secretariat structure in the middle of the road should not be the priority of the party leadership now.
He said: “It is the secretariat workers that guide the party leadership. When we formed the party, we laid down a solid structure in terms of workers’ recruitment. We have establishment manual that guides hiring and firing of workers. “We created a political civil service structure. Because there are no pension and gratuity for workers, we have terminal benefits for them to ensure that they can start from somewhere on leaving the secretariat. “Workers were recruited from the six geo-political zones to ensure balance and equity. We sent them to Administrative Staff College for training. Some of them have been there in the last 16 years and they have done well for the party. That was the bedrock of which we built the party from the inception.
On the planned reduction of workers by the party leadership, Nwodo said it is not necessary, considering that the party had always made almost N12 billion in every election year through the sale of party nomination forms. “If the e-registration of members I introduced during my brief stay was allowed to survive, the party would have been getting N11 million from it every year. That will be enough to take care of workers’ salary and other things.
The party leadership should concentrate on repositioning it to play the leading opposition role. The leadership should be mindful that the only thing left for the party after losing the presidency is the secretariat,” Nwodo said. Also one of the members of NWC of the party told The Guardian that the state governors and members of National Assembly have remained mute since the crisis erupted because of their pre and post election cases pending at various courts and tribunals. “The governors and National Assembly members are at crossroad on the crisis now because the party leadership is in possession of documents to work against them at the courts and tribunals if they move against them. So our governors cannot do much now until they are sure all their pre and pro election cases are dispensed.” In his remark, National Vice Chairman, South-South of the party, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh said that because the party did not win the presidency during the last election, it is natural for the party to downsize. He said: “We are making arrangement to resolve the crisis and the right of the workers will be protected. The workers are intelligent people. They are aware that we didn’t win election and we cannot continue to foot their bills.
This is expected when a ruling party suddenly lost an election. We will follow the establishment manual to resolve the crisis.’ To Chief Ebenezer Babatope, a BoT member of the party, let everybody continue to flex muscles, the party elders are making moves to deal with the situation in the best interest of the party. Former national secretary and national chairman of the party, Chief Vincent Ogbulafor told The Guardian that the members of NWC should resign to allow for the reconstitution of the party leadership.
According to the former chairman, he who pays the pipers dictates the tune. The NWC members should resign and the party governors should play a leading role in reconstituting the leadership and funding the party to save it from extinction. Meanwhile, the party’s establishment manual 2012 as amended, which was obtained by The Guardian stated in Section 25.0 subtitled Resignation and Termination of Appointment: A full time employee shall be free at any time without stating reasons why he/she resigns his or her appointment with the party upon giving due notice to that effect.
The party shall have a reciprocal right to terminate employees appointment with or without reasons upon giving him/ her due notice or payment of salary in lieu of notice on both sides. Due notice is as follow:-Management cadre-Three months, Supervisory cadre-Two months, Intermediate cadre-One month and Junior cadre- One month. Section 26.0 and 26.1 titled Terminal Benefits and Severance Allowance stipulate as follows: The payment of severance allowance to disengaged staff has become the norm in established organizations all over the world. In Nigeria, allowance package is an acceptable compensation for staff whose services are no longer required or who volunteer to disengage themselves.
Bearing in mind that appointment into the PDP service has no gratuity and pension, the following severance allowance package shall be payable to staff as follows-Minimum of four years- 150% of annual basic salary, above four years to eight years-250% of annual basic salary and above eight years-400% of annual basic salary. Investigation reveals that the party has 104 staff, while members of the NWC have 108 workers that are being paid from the party’s treasury. One of the party’s staff alleged that the planned sack is targeted at some workers whom the members of the NWC have marked out for witch-hunt for reason best known to them.
“They want to sack some of us without paying out terminal benefits. They also want to replace us with some of their personal staff, even when majority of them are ghost workers. “If they want to sack some of us because of our ties with some former members of the party that are now bigwigs in the APC, what happens to their relations they want to employ as our replacement, if they leave the party someday in future,” the staff asked.
We created a political civil service structure. Because there are no pension and gratuity for workers, we have terminal benefits for them to ensure that they can start from somewhere on leaving the secretariat. “Workers were recruited from the six geo-political zones to ensure balance and equity. We sent them to Administrative Staff College for training. Some of them have been there in the last 16 years and they have done well for the party. That was the bedrock of which we built the party from the inception.