6BIL FRAUD ALLEGATION ROCKS PDP

The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is presently embroiled in a fraud allegation of N6 billion, being the proceeds from the sale of forms in the 2019 general elections.

The fraud allegation is contained in a petition letter by the PDP staff to the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party over the money realized from the election that would have been enough to settle outstanding salary arrears and the planned downsizing in the party, which the staff said should be done with human face.

Other reasons in the petition to the highest organ of the party, it was gathered, was the inability of the party to pay allowances, salaries and other sundry issues.

A staff, who spoke with our correspondent on the condition of anonymity pointed out that the party, made nothing less than N6 billion in the 2019 general elections in the sale of forms.

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The staff also noted that the NWC had devised a new method of hiding financial transactions in the party, especially in the sale of forms and had hired consultants to handle this area so that staff would not be able to monitor party financial transactions.

The staff said: “NWC has something to hide, wants to suspend the establishment manual so that they will not pay the needed remuneration to those leaving office. NWC is subletting staff work to consultants.”

The staff further disclosed that while they noted that the money realized from the sale of forms was N6 billion, the NWC claimed that it was N4.6 billion.

The staff alleged that the NWC squandered the N165 million realized from the sale of forms from Kogi and Bayelsa States governorship elections.

The petition made available to our correspondent reads, “The project to downsize staff of the secretariat has remained a cardinal agenda of the National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus. We recall with dismay that when he took over the leadership of the Party from His Excellency, Alh. Adamu Mu’azu who resigned from office soon after the 2015 Presidential election, his first line of action was to downsize the staff. After so much effort exerted on the project without getting the support of his colleagues in the NWC, especially the National Secretary, he was able to force down the implementation of a reduction of staff salaries and allowances from 100% to 65%, as well putting a hold on payment of leave allowances, all of which hold sway till today.

“Even at this, TAX deducted from staff salaries are not paid to the FIRS. In December, 2017, he came back as elected National Chairman holding the same agenda of downsizing staff as his first line charge. As staff, our concern now is not whether the agenda is proper or not; nor whether he has the concrete support of his colleagues in the NWC or not; what is clear to us is that the agenda is set in motion with all vehemence, and we hereby helplessly submit to his wish.

“Accordingly, we are not opposed to the decision of the National Chairman to downsize the staff strength, even though we feel otherwise because a strong and productive Party bureaucracy is positively correlated to the formidability of a political Party. We also believe that with proper management of our resources, there should be no need to resort to downsizing staff strength in the National Secretariat. If we are talking about rightsizing the staff, it is understandable as a welcome management strategy to reinvent an organization but definitely not downsizing with all its recessive connotation on the health of the main opposition Party in Nigeria and the hope of Nigeria and Nigerians for a better tomorrow.

“In the last quarter of 2018, the Party netted about N6 billion from the sale of forms for the 2019 general elections. NEC in her wisdom approved about N1billion to be set aside for payment of all salaries and allowances of staff for the whole of 2019. Later, about N700 million was further collected from the sale of forms for Kogi and Bayelsa States’ governorship elections. All these notwithstanding, four months of consolidated housing allowance for staff for the said 2019 are not yet paid as at today.

“While not opposing the decision of the National Chairman to downsize the staff, we, however, solemnly pray the National Chairman, and by extension NEC, to please ensure that the exercise is carried out with a human face. This consideration becomes necessary in view of the fact that those to be affected did not commit any crime or any other misdemeanour for which they should be punished; they did not also resign on their own. The criteria for the downsizing were not made known to them.”

The staff, in the petition rejected “in its entirety the recommendation of the NWC committee on downsizing headed by the Deputy National Secretary, Dr. Emmanuel Agbo, to pay severance allowances to staff as follows: Directors-N3.0 million, Dep. /Asst. Directors-N2.5 million, Supervisory/Intermediate-N2.0 million, Junior Staff-N1.5 million.

“Above is a mere arbitrary allocation of figures which is not based on the provision of any extant approved financial regulation of the Party. Neither is it a product of negotiation with staff nor a ratio or percentage of any official fiscal administration of the Party. It is a recommendation lacking in empathy and fellow-brother feeling. It does not suffice.

“We also note similar proposal to pay staff that will remain behind a consolidated take-home salary without any allowance (i.e. housing) as follows: Heads of Units -N230, 000.00, Intermediate/ Supervisors-N75, 000.00, Junior-N40, 000.00.

“We hereby advise the National Chairman to put this recommendation before those staff that might not be disengaged so that they choose whether to accept it or reject it. Those who reject it should be included among the disengaged staff and be paid their due severance allowance, please.”

The staff, in the petition disclosed that “the total monthly amount expendable as salary for the establishment staff and those of the Peoples Democratic Institute (PDI) staff is N12 million, while that of personal staff to NWC members is N5 million.

“Since reducing the wage bill is expectedly the matter under contention, why not NWC members reduce the number of their personal staff drastically since most of them are not physically present to provide needed services.”

Those who signed the petition for and on behalf of the establishment staff of the PDP included: Innocent Nwankwo Chairman; SWC, Hon. Imanfidon Samson, Ph.D, Deputy Chairman, SWC; Alhaji Abubakar Mansur, Secretary, SWC; Adeyemi Florence, Deputy Secretary, SWC; Sunday Omobo, Financial Secretary SWC; Adewole Kafayat Adedayo, Staff Welfare Officer; Stephen Onah, Provost, SWC; Aminu Yunusa, Ex-Officio, SWC; and Chimezie Agada, Ex-Officio, SWC.

Speaking with our correspondent, a source at the party national Secretariat said, Prince Secondus, didn’t tell the panel set up by NEC to look into the complaint of the staff the real issue.

The NEC had set up a panel headed by the Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed to look into the petition and the issues between the staff and the NWC.

Secondus, it was gathered claimed that some directors were collecting about N600,000 monthly, but the highest paid director, according to the source is about N200,000.

The staff said that they are preparing revolt if the issues persist.

Also, a source at the panel disclosed that the NWC couldn’t account for N1 billion out of the N6 billion realized from the 2019 elections.

According to the source, the NWC wanted to cover its track by saying that the money was used to fund the campaign of its presidential election, a development, the source said, was denied by those claimed to be involved.

Efforts to get the reaction of the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, were unsuccessful as at press time.