– Senators Hunkuyi, Sani, others, declare el-Rufai undemocratic, plot his fall
– We’re reconciling with aggrieved members, says governor
Ismail Omipidan and Sola Ojo, Kaduna
“The reconciliation being embarked upon by the All Progressives Progress (APC) is too little and it is coming a little too late because in Kaduna, the people have decided to throw away the baby with the bath water. God gives power. It is apparently clear that with our exit, APC has lost power in Kaduna, come 2019.”
These were the exact words of Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, representing Kaduna North, as he formally bade farewell to the APC, a party he helped to ascend to power in 2015. He told Sunday Sun in an exclusive interview last Thursday that he made every efforts to remain in the party, but the party was unwilling to accommodate him and members of his group.
Sunday Sun gathered that Hunkuyi provided the structure that enabled Mallam Nasir el-Rufai to defeat former member of the House of Representatives, Isa Ashiru, at the party’s governorship primary. He also went ahead to deliver el-Rufai during the governorship contest in the state ahead of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Hunkuyi was the director-general of the party’s campaign council in the state. However, it is not clear how far Hunkuyi can go in his quest to stop el- Rufai from being re-elected in 2019, as long before now there were reports that the governor had secured the blessing of President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term.
Providing an insight into what awaits the APC and el-Rufai in 2019, a former Commissioner for Education and Chairman of the Akida faction of APC in Kaduna State, Tom Maiyashi, described the report of Buhari’s endorsement of el-Rufai for a second term as “laughable and ridiculous.”
In a recent interview, he argued that even if the president would use a ladder to present the governor to the world, people’s verdict would determine whether he would return or not, saying that the governor has inflicted “terror” on the people of the state.
The APC’s congresses held in May this year generated controversies in over 20 out of the 36 states and the FCT. And for Kaduna State, there appears to be no serious action from the party leadership to address the grievances of Senators Hunkuyi, Shehu Sani and other party stakeholders. It would be recalled that on July 13, the APC-Akida and the Restoration Group, the two major groups within the APC, announced their formal exit from the party.
Sani and Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the chief of staff to the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, are leading members of APC-Akida in the state. However, at a joint press conference addressed by Maiyashi on behalf of the two groups, they did not give any idea of where they were headed for after dumping the APC, though Sunday Sun can reveal authoritatively that they are going to the PDP.
The foregoing may have informed Hunkuyi’s definite position last Friday when he said that it was all over for the APC in the state in 2019.
According to him, “people are leaving the APC not because they don’t like the party, but because they don’t like el-Rufai and his undemocratic ways. And since politics is about people, we have no choice, but to leave. After all that happened at our ward congress and all that had happened in the past, we were left with two options: to either quit politics and die politically or continue in politics and save our people from the tyranny of el-Rufai and the APC, we chose the latter.
“Our political fate will be decided by God and the electorate in 2019. Whatever belongs to God belongs to the people. Buhari’s no-go areas are heavily pregnant and can deliver anything. North-West is the lifeline of Buhari and APC. With the crisis at hand in this zone, Buhari cannot replicate the margin of votes he had in 2015 in Kaduna and Kano in 2019. The reconciliation being embarked upon by the APC is too little and it is coming a little too late because in
Kaduna, the people have decided to throw away the baby with the bath water. God gives power. It is apparently clear that with our exit, APC has lost power in Kaduna, come 2019. Since the convergence point clearly is the PDP, we have no doubt, but to congratulate the PDP for being able to attract all these personalities and brains that would help it form the government in 2019.
“APC will have to bear the consequences of siding with el- Rufai against thousands of party’s faithful who sacrificed time, energy and resources to make APC win in 2015. El-Rufai’s matter has gone even beyond the party members; he has issues with journalists, with the general public, teachers, civil servants and the traditional institution, among others.
“Even if one is to support him, where do we start from? More so, we have since realised that a leopard can never change its spots.”
From all indications, the battle line is again drawn between the PDP and the APC in Kaduna State in 2019, for what is known in the soccer parlance as a return-leg.
In 2011, when Hunkuyi and his group were in the PDP, the party won the governorship, but lost the presidential election to Buhari’s defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). While CPC polled 1, 334, 244, PDP, which fielded Goodluck Jonathan, polled 1, 190, 179.
But in 2015, when Hunkuyi and his group joined the APC, and the party fielded Buhari as its presidential candidate, the PDP lost both the governorship and the presidential contests with wider margin. While Buhari’s APC polled 1,127, 760 in the presidential contest, PDP, which again fielded Jonathan polled 484, 085.
Who wins Kaduna in 2019?
Following the exit of Hunkuyi and others who made it possible for el-Rufai and APC to win Kaduna in 2015, the incumbent governor and his party would no doubt require more than Buhari’s endorsement to win the state. Also Hunkuyi and five other aspirants have since indicated interest to run for the governorship of the state on the platform of the PDP. Among them are: former Kaduna governor, Ramalan Yero, who incidentally lost to el-Rufai in 2015; Isa Ashiru, who also lost the APC’s ticket to el-Rufai at the primary; and former National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Director General, Sani Sidi.
Others include Galadiman Ruwa and Maina Zazzau. One unique characteristic feature of all the aspirants is that they are all from the Kaduna North Senatorial District, the same district, where el-Rufai also comes from.
Our sister publication, Saturday Sun, had in its April 1, 2017, edition, exclusively reported that the duo of Hunkuyi and Ashiru would be challenging el-Rufai for the APC’s governorship ticket. The story was entitled: “2019: APC plots el- Rufai’s fall.” And since both of them have moved to the PDP, it follows, therefore, that the contest for the party’s ticket will be a straight fight between the two politicians. Ashiru had contested the governorship ticket with el-Rufai in the APC. But Hunkuyi delivered it to el-Rufai single-handedly.
Historically speaking, only the Southern Kaduna usually delivers bloc votes to the PDP. And if the outcome of the recent council polls in the state is anything to go by, it means the area remains a stronghold of the party.
A state lawmaker lent credence to the above fact. The lawmaker, who just defected to the PDP, told Sunday Sun: “PDP must sit down and do its analysis carefully to see who to choose between Hunkuyi and Ashiru. In doing that, it must consider who between the two can win the confidence of the Southern Kaduna people who are the worst hit by the el- Rufai’s misrule.
“To send el-Rufai and APC packing, the PDP needs the Southern Kaduna bloc votes. The option before it is, therefore, to decide who between Ashiru and Hunkuyi gets the ticket. The two of them are from the same local government area. But we all know Hunkuyi’s political antecedents. Hunkuyi played a key role in the emergence of el-Rufai and Yakowa as governor in 2015 and 2011 respectively. He is a dogged fighter. We all saw how he delivered Yakowa against all odds in 2011. If you ask for my personal opinion, I see him as the bulldozer that we require to reduce el-Rufai and APC to size in Kaduna State next year.”
El-Rufai makes move to reconcile with aggrieved members
When Sunday Sun sought to find out if the exit of Hunkuyi and others pose any threat to the party’s chances of retaining the state next year, most of those contacted avoided making any comment. Instead, they pleaded for the story to be dropped.
But Governor el-Rufai, who spoke through his Councillor on Information and Communication, Saidu Adamu, told Sunday Sun that a committee chaired by Alhaji Kabir Umar and Namadi Musa as secretary, has already been set up to reconcile Senators Shehu Sani, Suleiman Hunkuyi and other aggrieved members with the party.
Adamu, a two-time Commissioner for Information and Communication under Governor Nnamadi Sambo and the late Governor Patrick Yakowa said: “Governor el-Rufai has set up a reconciliatory committee to reconcile all the aggrieved members of the party, including Senator Hunkuyi, Senator Shehu Sani and others who have either left or planning to leave the party.
“The work of the committee becomes necessary because we have to come back together as a family that we are and contribute our quota to move the party and the state forward. We need to put the past behind us and face the future. It is the responsibility of the committee to call them and let them see reasons they should remain in the party and solicit their support and understanding. We want to sit with them and find a level ground for all of us. By the time they move to other party, they will not be able to gather respect they have in APC and that is why we want them to stay in the party and those that have left too to come back home. We should not forget that we are all human beings, we are bound to make mistakes. But the good thing is that we want us to reconcile, which is why the committee set up comprises respected personalities as members.”