As some concerned members of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) in Bauchi State call for review of long mooted merger plans with either PDP or APC, Associate Editor, Sam Egburonu, reports on the future of the party in the state
The optimism within the Bauchi State chapter of Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) when former Minister of State for Health, Professor Mohammed Ali Pate, emerged the party’s candidate in last year’s governorship election seems to have wand as some concerned members of the party are now calling for review of long mooted merger plans with either the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or All Progressives Congress (APC).
Pate had, at the peak of the governorship campaigns last year, described PRP as the party that will save Bauchi, which he described as the poorest state in the country.
“Our party, the Peoples Redemption Party, really is different from the rest of the crop. If you look at the antecedents of our party and the ideology behind it, it is different in terms of the direction and plans for the state. The rest of the parties, the APC and the PDP are all the same. The political space as it is, if you look closely at the ruling party, the same people who have been ruling in the PDP for the last 20 years are all the same. They have the same route. Now, ideologically, they have not offered any agenda that is different in the last 20 years, particularly in the last four years. PRP has offered the people of Bauchi a different vision and a different direction, and that is why we are very confident that the acceptance of our party among the generality of the population of Bauchi State will translate into a successful election in 2019 and we will win the governorship and other elections.”
The enthusiasm notwithstanding, PRP lost the governorship election to the Peoples Democratic Party; a development that has generated heated controversy amongst members of the party in the state. While some blamed the defeat of PRP in the state to internal crisis, others alleged that most of the top leaders in the state actually worked for other parties during the election.
We gathered that the resultant disagreement may have left the party even more divided. Mallam Ibrahim Umar told The Nation that it was the resultant suspicion amongst members of PRP in the state that has made some of the members to renew calls for merger with any of the two leading political parties in the state.
“Since the emergence of PDP’s Bala Mohammed, some of our members have expressed concerns over the future of PRP in the state and as a result, have renewed calls for possible merger with either the ruling PDP or the major opposition, the APC. The truth must be told, the crisis over the leadership of our party at the local government areas, shortly before last year’s governorship election dealt a devastating blow on the party. I believe as soon as the Coronavirus pandemic is over, we must tell ourselves the home truth and either mend our broken fences or merge with another party.
“As you know, the Bauchi State Government announced a total shut down of the state as part of its effort to curtail the spread of coronavirus. This is after the state recorded its third index case on Tuesday. So, until the pandemic is fully taken care of, politics will take the back seat here in Bauchi. But as soon as we come out of this, we, the members of PRP are poised to either secure the future of the party or fuse into another,” Umar said.
Genesis of the fear:
The fear within the state chapter of PRP that led some members to suggest merger options can be traced to and beyond the leadership battle amongst the leaders of the party in the state before the last governorship election, including the circumstances that led to the emergence of Alhaji Shehu Barau Ningi as the state chairman of the party.
Confirming the power game, Alhaji Ahmadu Chiroma, a former state chairman of the party, had cried out shortly before the elections last year that the party was “fast heading for a crash.”
He said the feared fall would be blamed on what he described as an “internal crisis” which he attributed to “leadership tussle across the 20 local government areas of the state. Predicting PRP’s failure in the election, he specifically alleged that the takeover of PRP by former APC guber aspirant, Professor Ali Pate, was responsible for the crisis within the party.
“I assure you that Pate will not win governorship election under PRP in Bauchi for dissolving the existing party structures across the state and lately replacing them with APC supporters,” Chiroma alleged then.
Revealing that he personally advised former National Chairman of PRP, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, “not to mortgage the party to Pate who then lost APC guber ticket,” he said, “there is no justice in uprooting the party’s existing structures, especially those that suffered to sustain the party for years just because you want to become governor by all means without regard to the owners of the party.”
Explaining the link between the emergence of Pate as the governorship candidate and the current fear within the Bauchi state chapter of PRP, Umar said, “Some of us believe the outcome of the elections was partly attributable to protest votes of aggrieved members. Pate was unarguably a great candidate but the way he emerged is clearly controversial. In fact, it is being said that members of the dissolved party executive in the 20 local government areas actually voted against the PRP governorship candidate in 2019, who openly described their sack as illegal.”
If this allegations are true, Umar said, it seems certain that the party in the state will either reconcile with the aggrieved members or merge with a more stable party in the state.
Another PRP member, Alhaji Kande Kubure, said the party stakeholders were already poised on resolving the crisis within the party before the Coronavirus pandemic put a halt on political gathering in the country. “PRP leaders and members alike were already discussing ways of resolving the crisis before the emergence of Coronavirus. I am sure we will resume the discussion as soon as the pandemic is resolved. One thing is certain, some members of the party are not happy with the changes at the party leadership across the state just before the last elections. We will resolve the misunderstandings as soon as we resume meetings,” he said.
On the possibility of resuming merger talks, he said, “of course, some people hinted on that possibility. Although I do not believe that is the way to go, I cannot speak for all. If anybody brings up that option, it would also be discussed. But I think the primary thing to do is to resolve our differences and rebuild the party for future elections. After all, we won other important positions, which confirms that PRP is not a pushover in Bauchi State.”
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