Former minister of aviation and Chairman of the Kaduna State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Felix Hassan Hyat, discusses the crisis in the Kaduna PDP with John Shiklam, and denies allegations that the recent state congress was manipulated in his favour
Agroup of aggrieved people known as “Restoration PDP” has emerged in Kaduna, alleging that you manipulated the congress which led to your emergence as state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). How are you handling the situation?
For the avoidance of doubt, congresses are conducted by the national secretariat of the party, through an electoral committee. There is also an appeal committee and this appeal committee is not an end to itself because the National Working Committee (NWC) also constituted itself into an appeal committee. The National Executive Committee (NEC) is the final bus stop for all appeals. This means there are four stages for people with complaints or grievances to seek for redress. I expect that those who are political players should know the processes. So, if you have a problem, you send your petition to the appropriate organ. It is only when you are dissatisfied with the position of the party on your petition that you can go to court.
But people just sat down and started writing petitions even before the conclusion of the exercise. When they write, they don’t even care to come before the committee to defend their claims. These people have promoted so many court cases and they have not won a single case. There are still some cases pending in court. They don’t have the patience to wait for the court decisions, they are now moving to form a group they called “Restoration PDP.” By the constitution of the PDP, you cannot set up any group that is not known to the party, whatever name you call it. So, what they are doing is an affront to the constitution of the party.
If you have a case in court and you have gone to set up a parallel organisation, are you saying you are no longer interested in the court case?
As the state chairman of the party, I will only appeal to them to see reason, because we recognise them as members of the party. We love them as our brothers and sisters. They should be guided by the constitution of the party. They were not forced to be members of the PDP, they voluntarily joined the party. It is by choice. Majority of those people are those who left the APC to join us. We received them whole heartedly. They left the APC under the same circumstances. They are not even thinking of the perception of people about them. As a political party and as leaders, we are prepared at any given time to sit down and dialogue on the way forward.
They are alleging that you changed the list of delegates by replacing some names with those of your supporters. How do you react to that?
I don’t have the authority to remove any person’s name, which is a product of a congress conducted by the national leadership of the party. They made the allegations and demanded that the National Secretariat give the authentic list to their leader, former governor Mukhtar Yero, and it was given to them. The list that was given to them is the same list given to us by the National Secretariat of the party. That is the truth of the matter. They are just trying to confuse people. The allegation is completely false; they are just trying to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it.
With this kind of scenario, how bright are the chances of the PDP in 2023?
The number of people involved in that group is depleting because it was a false propaganda. When we started telling people about the correct scenario, they understood. I have received calls from many people thanking me for clarifying the issues and declaring their support for the party and my leadership. This is an issue that is already fizzling out. So, our chances for 2023 are not bleak. We believe that the number of people that are showing interest in the PDP now is by far more than before. We don’t want anybody to leave the party. We will always settle our problems through dialogue. We cannot afford to be fighting each other because the people of Kaduna State and Nigerians in general are suffering under the APC government and are looking up to the PDP in 2023. We cannot afford to allow the situation to continue. We have set up a reconciliation committee and another committee to reposition the party in the state towards 2023. So, it is an issue that we are hopeful we can resolve at the end of the day through dialogue.
Having governed Kaduna State for 16 years how does it feel for PDP to be out of power and in the opposition?
As a political party, being out of power after providing purposeful leadership and good governance to the people for 16 years is painful, especially when the succeeding government is failing the people woefully. As things are today, the PDP has been vindicated for the fact that our achievements can never be matched by this current government. The people of Kaduna State are not feeling the impact of governance under the APC administration. Governance in the state has become too elitist. People in the rural areas are not feeling the impact of governance at all.
PDP opened up a lot of rural communities by embarking on massive road construction and provided electricity through its rural electrification programme. Makarfa was nicknamed “Limamin Rayya Karkara da Birane” (Apostle of rural and urban development), because he opened up many communities in the state. PDP had focus, we laid a solid foundation. We carried the people along in conceiving our development projects. We did not only set up a strong and enviable foundation, we built on the foundation to a certain level and we expected the APC, which took over from us, to continue from where we stopped, but what we are seeing now is a complete demolition of what we built and if care is not taken, even the foundation we laid may be affected. We pray to God that it does not reach that level.
What are the lessons you have learned from your defeat by the APC?
We have learned from the complex nature of human beings. For 16 years, a party provided people-oriented leadership, a lot of achievements were made, but people just woke up and said we failed. They did not look at areas we succeeded. I agree that change is constant in every human society, but in advocating for change, you must be careful by taking wise steps that will not lead to disaster. Some people desperate for power came up with propaganda and accused PDP of corruption. Yet, it was the PDP administration under Obasanjo that established structures to fight corruption. Nigerians are now in a better position to tell who is more corrupt between the APC and the PDP governments.
The recent rating by Transparency International shows that corruption thrives more under the APC government. Look at the insecurity that has engulfed the country. In Kaduna State, we are on the receiving end. Almost on a daily basis people are being killed or abducted for ransom. So, I will say that we were rigged out because in 2015, there was what we called political Tsunami that swept across the northern region. It was only Kaduna State, southern Kaduna, in particular that the PDP maintained its strength by winning all seats in the State Assembly, House of Representatives and the Senate. We have learned that the quest for change by human beings, which is the right thing, needed to be guided to make the right choices.
Many Nigerians who voted the change are regretting their action today, because they have realised that they did not make the right choice in their quest for change. The APC has failed Nigerians woefully.
What is your assessment of the APC government in Kaduna State in the past six years or so?
Let me start by saying that the resources that have come to the APC government in four years is more than the resources that was available to the PDP in 10 years. We embarked on infrastructural development all over the state without loans. Any time a loan was taken, it was repaid within the same financial year. But today, we are collecting loans from China; people from China are constructing roads and street lights. Therefore, there is no comparison. At the time this loan was being sought, senators from Kaduna State at the time, kicked against it because, there was no breakdown as to how the loans would be used. The government came out with a blank urban renewal projects whereby all the money being spent on projects is in one or two wards in one Local Government Area.
It shows that there is a skewed development programme. But the law of urban centres provides a radius of about 30 kilometers or more from the centre, which means, the whole of what we called Kaduna – Television, Sabon Tasha, Kawo, Anguwan Kaji, Nasarawa, Kudenda, etc, are all parts of Urban Kaduna. Why are the projects restricted to Kaduna North, while others are not covered? Yet the projects are being executed with a loan. We don’t even know the cost of constructing one kilometre of these roads. The person living in Sanga or Ikara, who is going to pay for this loan has not benefited from it. So, in what way is the government accountable to the people? They have taken over rural markets which are supposed to be facilities of local governments. Some of these rural markets operate weekly. For instance, Kasuwan Magani Market is a weekly market. If you take it from Kajuru Local government and bring people from China to build it, can you make the market to be opened daily for business? So, in what way is government thinking of what we called development plans?