Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Re: The Feasibility of Nigerian Parties Becoming Democratic.

We write on behalf of Senator Dr. Amadu Ali, GCON, to respond to some fallacies in an article of the above title written by Professor Jibrin Ibrahim and published in some national dailies and online publications (not CKN News) on Friday, November 18, 2016.

It is unfortunate that we now live in uncertain times where history is no longer studied. Facts are no longer sacred. Personal opinions are easily passed as truth. Logic and reason are brazenly sacrificed for expediency and drama so much so that the narrative about Nigeria, her institutions of governance and leaders are very often distorted. This is why we consider it important to write to highlight the fallacious statements made to diminsh Dr. Amadu Ali’s sterling record of service as PDP National Chairman and to present the true facts for the benefit of the reading public who may have been misinformed.

In the article in question, the writer, Professor Jibrin Ibrahim stated that “At the height of PDP power, the party dismissed all of its members. As the then Chairman, Col. Ahmadu Ali explained: “The PDP is full of members who fraudulently obtained their party membership” (Tribune, 23/11/2005). As they all obtained their membership fraudulently, he dismissed all of them and asked them to reapply... After a “thorough process of screening” suitable members were recruited to organise the rigging of the 2007 elections.” (All emphasis is mine)

Professor Ibrahim started off well by taking the pains to confirm the reason for the membership deregistration exercise that took place in the PDP in 2005, as explained by Dr. Ali in the Tribune excerpt – which was clearly to address the then unacceptably high prevalence of fake members who were fraudulently obtaining  membership of the PDP.  

One reasonably expected that professor Ibrahim will follow the narrative that he established to reach the only logical inference possible, which is to commend Dr. Ali for the courage to take the bold step of working to mitigate the continuous abuse of the PDP membership registration process and to restore credibility to the party membership registration regime.

Instead, Professor Ibrahim completely ignored the explanation of Dr Ali, choosing rather to plunge ahead with  a curiously unsubstantiated and missing logic that led to a grievous and unfortunate conclusion which did not evolve from the facts presented, did not agree with the explanations given by Dr. Ali nor reflect the reality of the peculiar challenges within the PDP at the time of the party membership deregistration exercise - After a “thorough process of screening” suitable members were recruited to organise the rigging of the 2007 elections.” One is at a complete loss to understand how Professor Ibrahim reached this unsubstantiated, totally false and malicious deduction.

As Director General of the Peoples Democratic Institute (PDI) at the time of the 2005 party membership registration reform exercise in the PDP, I am privileged to have firsthand knowledge of the facts. The PDP and the PDI had both received credible intelligence of an unusually high incidence of arbitrariness in the party membership registration process across the country. Specifically, it was discovered at that time, a number of PDP State Chapters were complicit in printing unauthorized party membership cards in concert with some senior party leaders. These cards were then been used to register fake party members. It was also determined that the then ongoing public feud between President Obasanjo and his Vice was the major indicator of the growing incidence of arbitrary registration of fake party members with fake party cards into the PDP.

To effectively mitigate the growing incidence of fraudulent party membership registrations, Dr. Ali introduced a fraud proof reform.  The plan was simple but effective. All PDP members were directed to submit themselves for fresh registration. The party secured the services of a security printing firm which reprinted its party membership cards with fraud proof security features and the re-registration exercise was executed successfully nationwide. Which is why it is extremely curious and disturbing that Professor Jibrin Ibrahim will single Dr. Ali out for such harsh, unfair and unsubstantiated allegation of “recruiting suitable members to organize the rigging of the 2007 elections” It must be said categorically that there was no recruiting nor organizing for rigging of any election at any time under Dr. Ali’s watch in the PDP. 
Indeed it is fair to posit that a discourse on the feasibility of Nigerian parties becoming democratic cannot be comprehensively and objectively undertaken without acknowledgement and commendation for the measurable developmental strides of Dr Ali in the area of political party building. For the benefit of the reading public, it is pertinent at this point to briefly highlight just a few of Dr. Ali’s seminal and innovative party reform initiatives:

ü  Development of Permanent Party Secretariat: Dr Ali became the first National Chairman of any party in Nigeria to invest in the building of a permanent secretariat for the party. He commissioned and received the architectural design for the proposed new PDP secretariat; purchased a land for the building; secured the title deeds of the land and; left N1 billion in the party’s coffers for the commencement of the building before leaving office. This was Dr. Ali’s way of demonstrating confidence in the fact that democracy has come to stay in Nigeria and therefore the need for permanent structures to support political parties.

ü  Institutionalization of Cabinet Secretariat: Dr Ali established what he called the Cabinet secretariat to end the arbitrary nature in which party organs were being administered. The Cabinet Secretariat provided the administrative resource to coordinate, take and keep records of all party organs.

ü  Review & Strengthening of Party Constitution: Dr. Ali strengthened the constitution by doing the following: removing and clarifying the ambiguity in the provisions for party membership and eligibility; introduced clauses to clarify sources of party finance and funding, membership dues and other sources of party funding; Article 21 which deals with offences and discipline was revised to make clear what constitutes offence and what punishment or disciplinary measures members should expect; but most impactful is Dr. Ali’s  insistence on the introduction of a new provision in Article 18 on Transparency and Accountability in the Management of Party Finances. 

ü  Review & Strengthening of Party Manifesto: Under Dr Ali’s leadership, the PDP manifesto was reviewed and disaggregated into two substantive documents. Part one of the manifesto, contains the philosophy, ideology and directive principles of the party. Part two of the Manifesto, contains the programmatic objectives and governance agenda of the party. It also details what is called the Irreducible Minimum Objectives for states and Local governments under the control of PDP.

ü  Party Leadership Capacity Building: More than any other party chairman in Nigeria’s history, Dr Ali pursued an aggressive strategy of executing seminars, workshops and policy retreats for party leaders and members at all level with a view to building their leadership capacity.

ü  Preservation of Institutional Memory: Recognizing the significance of articulating in writing the record of the legacies of the party and its government for the benefit of posterity, Dr. Ali commissioned the PDI early to research and publish two books: one on the challenges, programs and legacies of the 5th PDP NWC (Reforming the Rally into a Party: The Legacies of the Amadu Ali led PDP NWC 2005-2008) and the second, on the policies and programs of the Obasanjo administration from 1999-2007. (Giant Strides: The Programs, Policies and Achievements of the PDP led Olusegun Obasanjo Administration 1999 – 2007)

ü  Regime of Transparency and Openness: Dr. Ali’s deep seated commitment to transparency, openness and accountability to the party members and the general public and his stated desire to pull down every barrier to free access to information led him to commission for the first time in the history of PDP the development of an interactive website for the party.
Given the depth and breadth of Dr. Ali’s transformative and reform oriented leadership of the PDP, it is therefore not surprising that of all the ten (10) National Party chairmen that the PDP has had from 1998 to 2016, Dr Ali remains the only one who successfully completed his tenure; organized a successful convention and; handed over to a successor National Chairman. Consistent also with Dr. Ali’s avowed commitment to transparency and accountability, he remains to date the only PDP National Chairman who left a surplus of about N2 billion in the party coffers as at when he completed his tenure.

By any standard or stretch of the imagination, Senator Dr. Amadu Adah Ali, fss, CON, GCON, FRCP Edin, deserves commendation for his contributions to the democratization and development of political parties in Nigeria and not ridicule or criticism.

Anthony Ubani, is a former Director General of the Peoples Democratic Institute (PDI)

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