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PRP will subscribe to representation, not zoning — Umaru

Richard Umaru is the Director of Research Planning and Documentation of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) and the secretary, Board of Trustees of the party.…

Richard Umaru is the Director of Research Planning and Documentation of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) and the secretary, Board of Trustees of the party.

In this interview, he speaks on the progress of the party and prospects ahead of the 2023 general elections as well as how it intends to galvanise young supporters.

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In the last few years, efforts have been ongoing to strengthen the PRP, how far have you gone?

We have gone very far in strengthening and repositioning the party to be able to face the current realities in the political scene. We want the party to become effective in mobilizing citizens for what we consider to be a very essential and necessary change in our political affirmation. So, we have gone very far and we are presently in the stage of revalidating the party’s membership register with a view to starting a vigorous campaign to recruit new members; younger blood, energetic blood, professionals, the middle class as well as the working classes, so that we will have a cadre that will run the party for us, re-position it so that it takes its expected place in driving the changes that are required in the Nigerian polity today.

As the successor of NEPU, the PRP’s ideology is seen to have largely attracted older people. Has it been a challenge trying to get young people to understand this ideology and come on board?

I think the answer is yes and no. Yes, because the idealism which we used to know young people to have of trying to build a better place than they have met is largely no longer there. When I was a student, it was my wish that I come out of studies to contribute to changing society, to make it a better place from what I met it. That ideology is no longer there in our youths. Now, you can take a very good example from Hushpuppi, he has a legion of youthful fans but what does Hushpuppi represent? He is just a scammer and a fraudster. The idealism of committing yourself, sacrificing your energy and intellect to changing society is no longer there. Most of our young men are looking for quick material wealth but that will not take them anywhere. That is the kind of culture, decadence that we in PRP are trying to address and re-orient the youths that their future is in their hands to make or to mar. How they make it is how they are going to live it. Most of us are beyond 69 to 70 years of age and our time is expiring with the bell ringing. So, tomorrow is there but it is not ours. Thus, they have to be made conscious that they have to  come in and contribute towards making that the future is a bright and promising one for themselves and those that will come after them.

Zoning has been a contentious issue, what is the position of the PRP on this?

Well, our party does not have zoning in its programme. We do not think it is something that should be enshrined in a party’s constitution. What we subscribe to is representation. Nigeria is a multi-ethnic and cultural society and it is important that those who get into public office are seen to be representatives of this diversity which we have. We can do that without enshrining zoning as a prerequisite. If you are truly democratic, both as a party and a government, you should do everything possible to make sure that appointments represent that diversity and pluralism that exist in society so that people get the feeling that they are involved in the ruling of the affairs in public domain. That is why the PRP believes strongly in federalism which is there in our general programme. This is enshrined in whatever we do as a political party. So, I do not think zoning is democratic nor promotes getting the best out of any society in terms of running and managing public affairs.

What is your source of funding and who  funds the party?

We do not have people funding the party from behind the scene. Our party’s constitution is clear about the source of funding. The first is membership dues, the second is donations, largely from party members who are fairly comfortable and then any other business venture that the party may decide to float. We welcome assistance from people who are committed to our basic principles and strategic objectives and want to assist us as long as that assistance falls within, first, the provisions of the constitution and the statutory regulations governing our party funding. So far, we are a very poor party and our material base is very poor. We represent the poor and given the conditions that we now have in this country, our membership base is poor. We’re having problems with funding but we will overcome it. What is more important is the political commitment that people bring to the party that keeps it going. I mean when the Northern Element Progressive Union (NEPU) was established, it was a very poor party, so was the PRP of the Second Republic. Then, there were people who used their money for transportation to attend primaries. But for us, even donations must be from lawful sources. You can’t go and steal and bring it to us. No, the most elementary things are subscription fees and levies which we impose upon ourselves. Our membership due is just N50, but if you have a large party base and people are committed to the payment of these dues, little by little, it will become plenty.

Will the PRP be fielding a presidential candidate in 2023?

I can assure you that this time around, the PRP is going to field a presidential candidate. We are surely going to fill the post and the candidate will be somebody worthy of PRP and its traditions as well as worthy to Nigerians. Also, the selection will have nothing to do with zoning since it is not part and parcel of the Nigerian constitution. Even the PDP and APC do not have it in their constitution. It is more of a gentleman agreement. That is the basis of the crisis between former president Jonathan and Yar’adua’s group and now the crisis within the APC. Between the APC and PDP, Nigerians are absolutely tired of what exists. They are just two groups jogging from one party to another. The kind of person we are going to bring out to contest for the president of Nigeria is going to be a true representative of our party, what we stand for and what Nigerians expect.

Before the 2019 elections, there were reports that the PRP was going to field in the former INEC chairman, Attahiru Jega, is this something the party intends to revisit in 2023?

No, Jega never indicated any interest before the 2019 election of contesting for anything to the best of our knowledge. As for 2023, it is too early for us to speculate about any candidate, our processes for determining who will be our flag bearer are very clear and there will be an open and democratic process in which the members of the party will determine who they think should carry that responsibility. And I think it’s too early for anybody to start speculating now.

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