When Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi announced his intention to contest Kaduna state gubernatorial election next year huge crowd at a rally received him into Kaduna the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Those who are conversant with that state, politics said it was not surprising.
This was just as they blame the Kaduna state chapter of the All Progressive Congress (APC) for its inability to manage the success it secured by having the likes of Senator Hunkuyi in that party penultimate 2015 election.
Senator Hunkuyi who is the Senate Committee on National Identity and Population chairman had along with 13 others, defected from the ruling APC to the PDP on the floor of Senate on July 24, 2019.
The story has it that, Hunkuyi who is revered for making so many kings in Kaduna state due to his gifted capacity for grassroots mobilization went round the state to inform his, constituents, supporters and contacts of his intention to decamp from APC back to his erstwhile party, the PDP.
In appreciation of such efforts, a grand rally was held in his honour by the Kaduna State Chapter of PDP at the Trade Fair Complex, along the busy Zaria -Kano Express Way penultimate about two weeks back where he was officially welcomed into the party at the State level.
Hunkuyi at the rally not only officially announced his plan to contest for the 2019 governorship election under the PDP, but gave assurance that no amount of “Witch-hunting, intimidations, would make to retreat, surrender or whatever, saying he would take the contest from street to street, village to village, town to town and local government to local government with the incumbent Governor Mallam Nasir El – Rufai.
El-Rufai, the senator with all emphasis said is beatable, removable due to myriad of problems, mass-hunger, unemployment, and his agonizing and antagonizing administrative approaches and styles.
He said, from all evaluations and permutations, it is easier for the APC to achieve success than to manage it or sustain it, and that any individual, group of individuals, talk more of a party with such tendencies ought not to be trusted with power.
He urged the crowd to stick together and believe in him adding that he will return the governorship seat to them, saying it is a task he will accomplish, which must be done.
Hunkuyi’s declaration to that effect was against the backdrop of attacks the El-Rufai led Kaduna State government had unleashed on him in recent times , one of which was his personal house demolished in February this by an agency of the government , an action Hunkuyi laid squarely at the door step of Governor El- Rufai for alleged political persecution.
But the Kaduna State Government in its reaction then, said: “the demolition was part of operations of the State’s Urban Planning and Development Agency (KAPSUDA) in ensuring compliance with its mandate.
A statement signed by the Director General of KAPSUDA then, Ibrahim Husseini reads : “This morning, ( Monday 19th February, 2018), a building on 11B Sambo Close was removed for flagrant violations of land use and non-payment of ground rent since 2010. This illegal violation of use had begun to distress neighbours who were being forced to endure an influx of thugs and blockage of the road,”
Thus , Hunkuyi at the event told the mammoth crowd to use their power which is the voters card to vote out the ruling All Progressive Congress in Kaduna State and Nigeria in 2019 for unleashing untold hardship on them contrary to the yearnings and aspirations of the citizenry which voted them to power in 2015.
He said every resident of Kaduna knows that the demolished House was used as campaign office for Governor El-Rufai in 2014/2015 and thereafter as Secretariat of APC in the State from May 2015 to February this year when out of ‘ Politics of Bitterness’ , the Governor ordered for its demolition.
His words: ‘ The ruling party ( APC) particularly in Kaduna State under El- Rufai , had failed woefully to work in line with promises made during the 2015 electioneering campaign.
“I am not deterred by any efforts of government to witch-hunt and intimidate me because of my decision to say the truth and stand by the people who are yearning for good governance in Kaduna State and in the etire Nigeria.
“PDP has learnt its lesson and has rebranded hence the need to work with the party to wrestle power from APC that has unleased pains and hardships on the people in Kaduna in particular and Nigeria generally “.
Also speaking at the rally, the National Secretary of the PDP, Senator Umar Ibrahim Tsauri lamented the crises brought about by the APC Government at the centre and in Kaduna in particular.
He urged Hunkuyi and his supporters to “put hands togethr in order to oust this treacherous regime out of office .
Kaduna State PDP Chairman, Felix Hassan Hyet who described Hunkuyi as grassroots politician and professor of politics said himself and Hunkuyi in 1998 moved from one local government to another in the state in order to establish PDP. He is happy that Hunkuyi is now back to the Peoples Democratic Party.
Hyet said whatever misgivings plcaed on Hunkuyi for bringing Governor Nasir El-Rufai to power is now forgiven based on his decision to quit APC and rejoin PDP. He promised to work with Hunkuyi and his supporters in order to liberate Kaduna and Nigeria from the shackles of APC.
“Hunkuyi brought El-Rufai to power. I believe he has realized his mistake and would work hard towards correcting that by helping to send him packing from Sir Kashim Ibrahim House” , he said .
Ditto for the former Kaduna State Governor, Dr. Mukhtar Ramalan Yero who in his expression of joy over Hunkuyi’s defection into PDP said : “PDP is back and the people are yearning for its return to power at both the State and federal levels on account of obvious sufferings Nigerians are undergoing purely due to bad governance “.
But in spite of all the accolades Hunkuyi got at the rally from the other PDP Chieftains in the State, the questions are , would he eventually emerged as the party’s flagbearer for the 2019 governorship election and if he does , can he defeat the incumbent , Mallam Nazif El- Rufai ?
While the second leg of the critical questions raised above cannot be answered fully here, answer for the first leg of it can be said to be somewhat positive on account of efforts being made by all the eight gubernatorial aspirants in PDP to work for a consensus candidate .
Indication to this effect emerged from submission made by one of the aspirants, Dr Ja’ afaru Sa’ad in Kaduna last week after a meeting the aspirants held with the state party executives and stakeholders.
He said: ” Eight of us seeking for the party ticket have been urged by our party to go, discuss among ourselves and come out with a consensus candidate.
“We are all qualified and capable, but as members of the same family we do not have room for internal crisis usually associated with primary elections.
“To me, this is a unity of purpose. All we want is victory comes 2019 elections, not only for our party but primarily for the people of Kaduna State, whom we hope to represent and serve”.
According to him, other aspirants who attended the meeting were Suleiman Hunkuyi, Mallam Isah Ashiru , Mohammed Sani Bello, Sani Sidi , Jonathan Kish, Ramalan Yero and Shuaibu Mikati .
Analytically if out of the eight, Hunkuyi is chosen, what are his chances of dislodging El- Rufai of the APC from the Kashim Ibrahim Government House ?
Political pundits in the state already submitting that if such a scenario of contest comes in 2019, El- Rufai would have to go the extral mile beyond dropping of President Muhammadu Buhari’s name to win the election as according to them, Hunkuyi is more rooted in the politics of the state than him , having been on the turf since the till fated third republic under former Military President Ibrahim Babangida as a staunch member of the defunct National Republican Convention ( NRC) , the platform upon which he got elected as Chairman of Makarfi Local Government and contributed immensely to the emergence of Alh.Mohammadu Dabo Lere and James Bawa Magaji as elected Governor and Deputy Governor of Kaduna State in December 1991 on the platform of NRC .
Hunkuyi’s participation and relevance in Kaduna politics, the pundits added , has since then, been soaring from one dispensation to the other , as he not only saw to the Victories of Governor Ahmed Makarfi in the State in January 1999, the late Patrick Yakowa in April 2011 and the incumbent Governor Nasir El- Rufai in April 2015.
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