Comrade Hussain Summonu, a retired Assistant Director in the Federal Ministry of Works and an activist, will clock 80 in few days. In this interview with ADEOLU ADEYEMO, he spoke about his life, childhood years and state of the nation. Excerpts:
How was your growing up years?
As you know, I’m the twin brother of Hassan Sunmonu, a former labour leader in the country. We were born in Ghana but at the age of six years, our father sent us to Nigeria to start our education. Our 21st birthday anniversary was celebrated for us by a woman who also had identical twin. We were at Yaba College while her twin was attending Queens College. When she asked us why we were not always celebrating our birthday, we replied that our parents were not in Nigeria and she took over the responsibilities.
How was secondary education for you?
One, it was Allah who did it all because without Him, we would not have finished high school. Two, though our father’s business suffered a setback, our mother did all she could to see us through. Another personality I could vividly recollect was one Mr Akinkanye from Ondo. Besides the support of the then Alake of Egbaland, Oba Gbadebo, this man also helped us.
Tell us about your Ghana experience?
At a time, we went for holiday in Ghana. In 1961, things were not economically viable in Ghana and we had to advise our parents on the need to leave there. In 1962, our parents agreed but Ghana had closed its borders. Many Nigerians, including us, managed to leave the country empty handed because trouble had begun in the country; then economy collapsed, coup occurred and there were assassinations.
How do you feel clocking 80?
To the glory of God, I feel so happy. I am happy because our father died at the age of 75 and our mother at the age of 83. I see it as a great opportunity that I am 80. My thinking when I was growing was that I would see between 50 and 60.
What are the advantages of being identical twin?
A lot. When we were younger, people found it difficult to differentiate between us. What was so comical then was that at times people would call me Hassan instead of Hussein and I would answer. It used to happen to him too, especially when he became the labour leader, people would address me as if I were Hassan. Being identical twin paved way for Allah’s favour in our lives. We were loved by our neighbours and any time we moved in our streets, all eyes were always on us.
How would you describe your parents?
Our parents are very caring and loving. They gave us the best upbringing. They spent all their resources on us so that we can make it in life. Despite being a polygamous home, our father was actually in charge. Every wife in the house was our mother. There was absolute love and peace. Harmony reigned. There was no disparity, no discrimination, we were like a broom. Disunity was not allowed, we ate from any wife’s pot. As regards my mother, she was another jewel. She could go to any length to make sure her children did not lack at all. She was a mother who stood out among mothers. Indeed, I really love her more than my father. In fact, there was a time my mother had to sell her gold to sustain us educationally. My father was a workaholic; he could travel far and wide to bring us happiness.
Do you fight with your twin?
It is a normal thing but in our own case, we fought when we were younger. When we began to mature, it got reduced as we had begun to understand ourselves the more. We were not all that violent when we were young but there were circumstantial developments which would erupt and we would not be able to manage some. When this happened, fight would erupt but elderly ones around would be the peacemakers
How did you meet your wife?
I met her through the Muslim Student Society of Yaba, it was love at first sight and since then, God has been able to cement the relationship.
Between the two of you, who is more gentlemanly?
Despite the fact that Hassan is an activist and a labour man, he is more patient than me. He has perseverance and very tolerant. In fact, he has excessive quality of being a patient personality with a difference.
When he was into Labour politics, what were your feelings then?
Since we believe in Allah, we have great trust in Him that He would see him through. When he was elected labour leader in Ibadan in 1978 and 1981 in Kano, I was solidly behind him and gave him my full support. In fact, it got to a point that we had to fast and pray as there were threats and challenges here and there. As the arrowhead of the labour union, he was the most sought for and the most monitored by our leaders then. But, he was very fortunate that Allah loved him and his family lives on.
What is your philosophy of life?
To the glory of Allah, my philosophy of life is that I should contribute my quota to the society to make life more meaningful and impactful than I met it. I believe God should enable me to leave this world better that I met it. Once I serve my God, pray to Him, obey His commandments, help others, give aid to the needy, serve my fatherland, stay away from hostility, then I am fulfilled. I should make life better for citizens around me.
You are known as a traveller, will you say you are a globetrotter?
Honestly speaking, and to the glory of God, I have been privileged to visit 53 countries in the world. It is not by my might but by the grace of Almighty God.
What is your take on insecurity in the county?
In all sincerity, it is a great threat to us in this country. It is so bad. Why is this happening? Those who need to be educated are not. Those who lay ambush to kidnap need to be educated. Hunger leads to crime. Poverty makes many wilder, it leads to crazy thoughts. Our leaders need to help the poor, give them the basic necessities of life and equip the police.
How would you rate President Muhamadu Buhari?
There is no perfection in humanity. If that is noted then, I will support him with prayers, so that all will be well.
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