Senator Suleiman Othman Hunkuyi was a governorship aspirant in the 2019 poll in Kaduna State. He was also a representative of Kaduna North Senatorial District in the National Assembly (2015 – 2019) where he served as a Chairman Senate Committee on National Population and Identity as well as Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs.
In this interview, Senator Hunkiyi bore his mind on different issues including the reasons he dumped the ruling party, All Progressive Congress, APC and why he will remain in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP despite some crises in his state.
QUESTION: You were among those that formed the All Progressive Congress, APC prior to the 2015 general election where you also served as Deputy National Organising Secretary of the party as well as Chairman, Campaign Council in Kaduna State in 2015. Under the same platform you also served as a Senator representing Kaduna North Senatorial District in the National Assembly but prior to the 2019 general election you crossed over from APC to PDP. Sir, can you give us the reason why there was need for you to go back to PDP at a time like that.
I think such reason for now is very evident. Politics is like a turbulent river and a very long one for that matter because, you join at one point and you enjoy the ride for some time. And sometimes you terminate at another point. What has happened in Nigeria politics definitely has to do with the formation of political parties as well as formation of government.
The two are for a purpose. Political parties may be formed in order to form a government. So, one of the major reasons for running a political party is to produce government. Political party may be in the quest of also forming a viable opposition against the party that is in power.
But for me the reasons that made us channel our energies and resources into formation of APC are similar reasons that made us to exit the APC as at the time we left. The two are very similar too.
The reason why we initially left the PDP was based on the nature and culture of arrogance and impurity which PDP was graduating into. The need for Nigeria to have progressive platform, to checkmate these undemocratic tendencies and elements was the reason why we left PDP for APC. But again, behold shortly after the formation of APC government signs and symptoms of the same tendencies and culture which we saw in PDP began to flourish and show its very ugly face within the APC. This was why we left the APC.
You could remember, one the reasons we also went back to PDP was unreserved apology the party tendered to Nigerians based on what had happened in the past. The apology was not only from the political class but also from common Nigerians that they had really realized part of their mistakes and they were willing to amend those mistakes which they did.
The agreement between the R-APC and the PDP and our coming back to the PDP was that we desired a change when we joined the APC, unfortunately, that change did not appear to be real as imagined. The PDP then agreed that they would apologize to Nigeria on the ground that what they were doing or what the PDP as an institution, as a party was pursuing was short of what the Nigerian people wanted. Those two things brought the R-APC and the PDP back together to pursue real change in the Nigerian politics, and that was how we found ourselves back into the PDP fold.
QUESTION: What is your position on the crisis rocking PDP, particularly, the Kaduna State Chapter of the party?
ANSWER: Very simple. Just as I told you earlier, politics is like a turbulent river. If you want quietness, if you want simple life, politeness, or jolly movement, don’t join politics. Politics is a different ball game all together. Therefore what you see playing out in Kaduna State is not strange. What is happening now and what you will see playing out is a game of interest being projected by various individuals and groups.
This is part of the reason why some time when you mention the name or the term politicians, people tend to interpret it as a group of individuals that are self-centred who come together just for their common interest. When it comes to a point like now in the PDP where there are a lot of differences, a lot of push me I push you because those to pilot the affairs of the party at various level are being elected, you should expect the kind of crisis being witnessed today.
What is happening now is not only in Kaduna State and it has to do with the interest of individuals and groups. Some are finding it difficult to accommodate others. In politics, particularly Nigerian politics, this has come to stay for a very long time but this is not good. We should be able to do away with this.
QUESTION: Are you comfortable in PDP or you have the intention of going back to APC like the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara?
ANSWER: I’m comfortable and have no intention of dumping PDP. Dogara comes from different background and may have reasons for going back to APC. But I know there is a lot of room for improvement in PDP.
QUESTION- You were purportedly suspended alongside some of your supporters by the then caretaker committee leadership of the PDP in Kaduna State and later called back. How do you feel about this?
ANSWER:The suspension was lifted because it never existed in the first place. The processes and reasons behind why you can suspend somebody in any political party in Nigeria are clearly spelt out in the Constitution of Nigeria as well as the constitution of the party. What they did was never in line with either the constitution of the party or the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria. This was why it was immediately reversed following the intervention of the national headquarters of the PDP.
QUESTION: What is your assessment of current government in Kaduna State?
ANSWER: I think that question is very rhetoric because, I had expressed my opinion on that long before I left APC. I had expressed my opinion on it after I left APC. I had also expressed my opinion on it long after I joined the PDP that what is going on is far below what people aspired for and desired. This was part of the reasons why we left the APC.
What is happening even at the national level is far below the yearnings and expectations of Nigerians. I have the option of being modest and I also have the option of being less modest in assessment, but every right thinking Nigerian knows that the aspiration of the people as it concerns the government of today leaves much to be desired in so many areas. Just like I said earlier, this was part of the reason why we jumped out of the APC train not even at the station.
QUESTION: How do you see the chances of PDP in Kaduna State in 2023?
ANSWER: Even before now PDP had the good chance to upturn the existing governing APC in Kaduna State in 2019. So many reasons accounted for it. Anybody who is accessing correctly and sensibly the need of the people in Kaduna State far and wide will know that the leading opposition party which is the PDP has the chance and all it takes to uproot APC in Kaduna State.
QUESTION: What is your advice as congresses and other political activities commence?
ANSWER: My advice to everyone not only to my supporters and PDP alone, is that let us imbibe the culture of democracy in the party, let us allow the culture of fairness and honesty in order to allow democracy to prevail. I urge everyone to allow democracy to flourish the way it should and that is through the respect for the choice of the majority wherever they find themselves, be it at party level or at any other area, democracy must appear to work and be respected in all its parameters for politics to be progressive and to be useful for the majority in Nigeria.