NEPU @ 70: The Spark that Continues to Glow
by FALALU BELLO
Exactly seventy odd years ago – to be precise, on 8th August, 1950 – arguably one of the most forward-looking and conscientious political parties in Nigeria was midwifed in the ancient city of Kano. Christened the “Northern Elements Progressive Union” [NEPU], the founding of the Party, marked the breaking of an epoch in Nigeria’s political history. The event itself was spearheaded by eight young men, viz: Bello Ijamu, Abba Maikwaru, Mudi Sipikin, Magaji Danbatta, Babaliya Manaja, Musa Kaula, Abdulkadir Danjaji and Garba Bida. In addition to these historic eight personalities, there was the influence of Mallam Aminu Kano [who, as a public school headmaster and therefore a public servant, could not openly associate with the Party at the time] and Saad Zungur [of the defunct NCNC] in the background.
Founded in the context of a social order characterized by unrelieved feudal oppression, unrelieved aristocratic excesses and arrant colonial impositions, the NEPU openly and unambiguously committed itself to mobilizing the common man [“talaka”] for the struggle to wrest political power from the clutches of both British colonial authorities and their collaborators, the Emirate aristocracies of Northern Nigeria. In its founding document, The Sabawa Declaration, the NEPU declared that: “…the talakawa must organize consciously and politically for the conquest of the powers of government – both nationally and locally – in order that the machinery of government, …may be converted from an instrument of oppression into an agent of emancipation and the overthrow of Bureaucracy and aristocratic privilege.”
In its daily and routine political praxis, the NEPU emphasized and exhibited three fundamental principles which up to date are critical to the peaceful and progressive advancement of the Nigerian Project. These three principles are, viz; (i) a commitment to multiculturalism in political organization and popular mobilization, (ii) the promotion of working peoples’ solidarity in terms of the forging of peasant-worker alliances and similar popular alliances involving the lower wrung of the urban petty bourgeois classes as well as the traditional and modern literati, and (iii) rugged and unalloyed commitment to Nigeria’s national independence and national unity. With regard to the first principle, the NEPU went out of it way to ensure that the composition of its organs and branches was inclusive of all cultural and ethnic identities, to the extent of even encouraging the formation of affiliate tribal unions dedicated to fighting their own local despots. This is a far-cry from the present progressive retreat, particularly by the present crop of Nigerian elite, into exclusive primordial cocoons. In pursuance of the second principle, NEPU activists and organizers mobilized the urban wage earners, traders, craftsmen and other petty producers to identify with the struggles of the oppressed and exploited peasantry. As for the third principle, it is on record that NEPU entered into several alliances with other progressive political parties – the most famous being the historic NEPU/NCNC Alliance during the First Republic – in the pursuit of Nigeria’s national independence.
Our Party, the Peoples Redemption Party [PRP] is the direct heir of the NEPU and its legendary struggles for the emancipation of Nigeria’s downtrodden, exploited and oppressed working masses. The PRP continues to be inspired by the heroic sacrifices and commitment of the founding fathers of NEPU. We continue to be enamored and fired by the exemplary courage, vision and strategic objectives of our NEPU progenitors. And on this platinum anniversary of the founding of NEPU, the PRP pledges to remain steadfast and committed to keeping the torch which was ignited by the spark of 8th August, 1950 always aloft.
Alh. Falalu Bello, OFR., Danmasanin Zazzau is National Chairman, PEOPLES REDEMPTION PARTY [PRP]