Federal lawmaker representing Nasarawa North federal constituency at the senate, Senator Philip Aruwa Gyunka was a renowned banker with specialization in International banking, foreign exchange transaction, banking inspection, investment analysis and a business manager.
In this interview with Sundiata Post Assistant News Editor Chibuike Nwabuko, Senator Aruwa, among other things warns that senate should not be a dumping ground for ex-governors. He also x-rays the performance of the 8th senate and gives insight as to why PDP’s primaries were seamlessly conducted.
Qstn: Distinguished, we want to look at the just concluded primaries in Nigeria across political parties and what it portends to our democracy. Secondly, how do you view the performance of the 8th senate in a nascent democracy?
Thank you so much. I am Philip Aruwa Gyunka, Senator representing Nasarawa North senatorial district, Nasarawa state. My view concerning the just concluded primaries of political parties- I can talk of my party, the PDP. As you can see that PDP’s primaries were so transparent because of our wealth of experience in conducting previous elections. We made amendment from the past to at least ensure that there was fair treatment. I seated here , I contested and I have no one to blame because I believe that whatsoever I don’t have now, God knows that I don’t need it now and that is why I have to take everything as how God has prescribed it for me.
Going to other parties, I can hear cries around like a cry and shout in the wilderness that is being heard but no one can harken to. There was imposition of candidates and I believe that this imposition ought to stop. More importantly, here I have to say, that the senate should not be a dumping ground for those who have ruled their states as governors because governors believe that they should be the ones to come to the senate. The election should be open for everybody to contest, if they have performed well, they should be given the opportunity to come on board to participate in contributing to the national development. But if they do not perform well, it should not be that coming to the senate will be thier gratuity or pension that they will come and stay here for live. I don’t think it should be so because, take for instance your wardrobe, if you don’t decongest it, you would not have space for others to come in.
And the youths are there in the streets even many people are out there who are experienced to occupy these positions but because the governors control party structure, they want to be all and al and impose people. Governors want to impose who will succeed them and at the same time, they want to dislodge the people already in the senate; this is the issue that is generating a lot of outcry out there.
Qstn: Sir coming to the second issue, the quality of representation in the 8th Senate, your overview?
Yes, as you can see, the 8th senate is really a democratic set-up. Most of what you see that the 8th senate is doing today is the view of the people. They are true representatives of the people. They have their town hall meetings, they hold constituency meetings and they hear the views of their people. Most of the contributions you hear at the floor of the senate are the views of the people. So the 8th senate has performed creditably well under the leadership of Distinguished Senator Bukola Saraki.
Qstn: How would you describe your state, Nasarawa state? Are you comfortable with the level of development in the state and what could be the problem is it lack of availability of resources?
No. God has endowed every state with the natural resources and I think Nasarawa state is highly blessed that is why it is called Nasarawa State – “the home of solid minerals”. We have a lot of mineral resources that have not been utilized. I feel everybody has his own level of performance; those that have governed the state have their own level of performance. Most of those that have been there as governors are still in the APC today, they have cross-carpeted to the APC. They have what they have brought to the table and I think much was desired than what we are seeing today. Like our counterpart stats that were created with Nasarawa State together on 1st October 1996 like Gombe and other places, you will discover that they have gone far than Nasarawa. We are supposed to have used our proximity to the Federal Capital and explore the natural resources that we have and that is why I wanted to be governor of the state but unfortunately I didn’t get the ticket; it’s the will of God but I still have hope that one day, I will get it . You know if you take off in a plane, you fasten your seat belt and when there is storm you are not afraid again. But most of the people that have been there had no manifesto or programme or agenda for the state.
Qstn: But coming largely from the opposition party in the state, one would have thought that PDP would have put its ass together and give APC a run for its money. How prepared is the PDP with the emergence of the honourable member of the House as your flag bearer.
Well, just like I have told you earlier on, I believe in what God has for me and as the scripture says; 1 Corinthians Chapter 1v 26 it says, I will choose the foolish to shame the wise; I will choose the weak to shame the strong and I will choose the poor to shame the rich”. So God has a reason for choosing him so I don’t have any complain.
Qstn: Sir, based on the background you have given so far, do you see the imposition by some governors as a threat to APC in the 2019 election?
Yeah, you see, this is one thing. I feel terribly bad for this country. Why because everywhere you go today, they will be telling you Nigeria is corrupt, Nigeria is this and that. But I don’t believe that. It is just a group of people that has bad attitude. Take for instance investment in this country, when I was reading about Dubai’s Prime Minister, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid AL Maktoum, he looked at actually what the Arab Emirate needed and he worked towards that. I am one of his fans and I so much appreciate him. I love his doggedness and I appreciate him for that. If you ask me today what I want for Nasarawa State, I will tell you this is what I want. I don’t have God father but I have “God the Father” and that is my policy. And I believe in raising new generation for success and that has been my objective. Why? I told my youth that I have started in so- so period, this is who I am and I have to clear the way for them. I am like a bulldozer to them; create way for them and install them. I don’t have to feel like a godfather to them, no. When a child runs and falls, he does not look at what fell him but when an elder runs and fall, he stands up and look at what fell him- looks at what the obstacle is and removes it. That is one thing I offer myself for the youth and I wanted to do that so that I can clear the way for them so that they will have a future. I am from a very poor background but God has elevated me to this position and I believe that at least since is not by accident that I am here, I want to raise people that I can say I have mentored this person. That is what I believe.
Qstn: With almost 4 years in the senate, to what extent will you say you have mentored people you can push into the system?
Now, look at the aspiration I have and my aims and objectives. One, my going to the House was God that made it possible. It was not by my power, strength, education or anything, no. It was by the divine favour of God. He gave me the second time, I came in and He gave me accelerated promotion from the House of Assembly down to the Senate. So I can see that God has a hand in my progress. Today, the person that succeeded me is a youth, I allowed it. There are some older ones that wanted to be there and I said no. When I was contesting for governorship ticket of my party (PDP) in the just concluded primary election, Nasarawa State has 24 constituencies and out of the 24, I was able to help at least 13. But 10 out of the 13 got the ticket in the party. But I sacrificed myself too. Despite that I lost the election, because my election came first, I still gathered momentum and pushed up, even the person that got the ticket to the senate to replace me, I worked for him despite that he worked against me. Despite that the party said we should continue as senators, but I said no that is not the issue. My target was the governorship so since I did not get it, I didn’t insist I must return to senate as the paid said and I said no, it was not God’s time. Remember Abraham Lincoln, he struggle severally to be president of America but did not get it but latter he got it. Even look at the recent examplePresident Muhammadu Buhari also tried three times to become president but did not but it was the fourth attempt that he got it. So I have hope, I believe that a living dog is better than a dead lion.