BY SIMON REEF MUSA
I am constrained to write a rejoinder to an article written by Emmanuel Ado on ‘Southern Kaduna Senatorial seat and the Bantex challenge’, as published by the Authority newspaper and other online platforms on August 3, 2018. First, I do not begrudge anyone who is out to work for a living, but what I despicably detest is when deliberate and obvious misrepresentations are peddled with the intention of lending credence to a narrative that is patently a lie from the deepest pit of hell.
Writing from a perspective of an informed analyst, Ado erroneously declared that “the Southern Kaduna people have ‘adopted’ the PDP as its official party, just as Christianity is the dominant religion of the area, as against the APC that has been tagged or portrayed as a Muslim party.” What the writer intended to portray is equating the simplistic reasoning that religion plays a crucial role in the politics of the area. If that was the case, why did prominent politicians like Bala Bantex, former Naval Chief Ibrahim Iko, Ali Wakili, Dr. Shekarau, among several others, spearhead the APC campaign in the state ahead of the 2015 polls? The truth is that religion has never been a factor in the politics of the area.
Attempting to glorify the footprints of Bantex in the politics of Southern Kaduna, the writer went further to commend the deputy governor as the only political figure that ran against the tides by winning election into the House of Representatives on the platform of the defunct All Action Congress (ACN) in 2007. The question we have to ask is: are the dynamics the same as in 2007 when his people saw in him an effective symbol of representation? What will change between 2007 and 2019? Can the Bantex who defied the PDP in 2007 repeat such a feat next year?
Apart from insisting that Bantex’s aspiration should not be waved aside, Ado annoyingly recoiled into identifying the religious card as the only factor that led to the defeat of Senator Esther Nenadi Usman in the PDP primaries ahead of the 2015 polls. In his words, “La’ah, won the primaries based on a gang-up against Nenadi Usman, a much more solid candidate whose only sin was that she is married to a Muslim. So the area has a real first-hand experience of what it means to cut its nose to spite its face.” Did Ado bother to find out the performance profile of the former Minister of Finance as a Senator? When the people of Southern Kaduna voted for her in 2011, were they not aware that she was married to a Muslim? When she was nominated for the ministerial position in 2003, was Southern Kaduna not aware she was married to a Muslim? When Senator Isaiah Balat led the battle for her confirmation as Minister in 2003, was he not aware that she was married to a Muslim? When former President Olusegun Obasanjo removed Dr Obadiah Mailafiya, what did Nenadi Usman, a fellow Christian, do to help matters? Please, Ado should spare us this rotten narrative of religion that has been deployed by political opponents to divide the people. Southern Kaduna has a rich record of peaceful religious co-existence stretching several decades, if not centuries. Why do politicians and their supporters resort to hitting below the belt when they lose an election?
Since the APC emerged on the corridors of power on May 29, 2015, Ado believes the party has made inroads in Southern Kaduna, considering the outcome of the council poll of May 2018, adding, “The picture isn’t what it was in 2015 and failure to factor this will be fatal error of judgement on the part the PDP.” If indeed Ado’s claim is true, why did Bantex not win his Kaura LG during the council poll? Why were there so much disputations in Kajuru and other LGs in Southern Kaduna and elsewhere where the APC won?
Ado sees nothing disturbing in the bashing Bantex has received from his people as past deputy governors have also been victims. To the consternation of his readers, Ado attempted to problematise the discourse: “What exactly is the problem between the people of the southern Kaduna senatorial district and political office holders from the Zone, most especially deputy governors from the zone? Is the problem that of failed expectations or unrealistically high expectations? Do they understand the “powerlessness” of a deputy governor? That a deputy governor is only as effective as his principal is willing to allow him to, as in the case of Bantex?”
In a mischievous manner of attempting to turn the helpless SK people as those disempowering their political leaders, Ado thinks he has delivered a sucker punch: “If Bantex is constantly derided, like Shekari and Yakowa were, how can they be taken serious? Bantex efforts to attract projects worth more than N60 billion to southern Kaduna was frustrated on the altar of politics.”
I know Ado was referring to the Kaura N48 billion Vicampro potatoes project that has pitched land owners against investors, with the Kaduna State Government claiming the land in question belongs to the state, a claim the land owners have debunked. There is also the solar power project that has stalled due to alleged absence of EIA report and non-compensation to owners of the land for the project. One had expected that with Bantex in the saddle as deputy governor, he should have used his office to carry his people along and ensure all grey areas are cleared. His handling of the matter is set to constitute an albatross to his political career, as he test his acceptance by his people for the 2019 Senatorial contest.
To say the least, Ado’s piece is an attempt at intellectual masturbation with the sole intention of beclouding uninformed minds on issues trailing the Bantex challenge. The major contention is that if politicians have failed to provide democracy dividends to their people, these failed leaders should not be allowed to justify their poor performances to certain forces playing ethnic and religious cards. The truth is that Bantex and the APC has failed Southern Kaduna and the deputy governor’s incapacity to rally and organise his intelligence in marketing the APC is his greatest undoing. No leader ridicules his own people to be in the good books of his boss. It is on record that Bantex had accused his people of running politics of “exclusiveness.” I am yet to be told what efforts he galvanised in portraying the APC as a party that cares for the welfare of his own people in the heat of mass killings unleashed on his area.
In the peak of killings in Southern Kaduna where no fewer than 800 people were killed in the first year of APC been in power, according to the Kafanchan Catholic Diocese, what was Bantex’s role in finding solutions to the insecurity that ravaged his area? Did he not tell the world that activities of conflict entrepreneurs, ethnic and religious leaders in Southern Kaduna were behind the massacre? The action and inaction of our deputy governor was anti-democratic as he failed to stand by his own people. Bantex’s incompetence to think out of the box marked a watershed in his failure as a true representative of his people.
The Southern Kaduna people have learnt their bitter lesson in the last three years. We are not willing to be deceived again! For those who accuse SK of ethnic and religious politics, I hasten to state that the failure of our politicians to identify with the dilemma of our people has been largely responsible. When Bantex and other political leaders keep a loud silence, does it become a crime for our religious leaders and ethnic groups under SOKAPU to take the gauntlet and speak for us? Thousands of hatchet writers of Ado’s status cannot twist this stereotyped narrative that has become a regurgitated fiction.
Let there be thousands of PDP aspirants for the SK Senatorial contest in 2019. We need and welcome them. We look forward to a robust debate on issues. In our distress we have come to the realism that only our common brotherhood that is hinged on our diversity, can secure our future. The Southern Kaduna people know what their interest is, and we do not need Ado to misinform people of who we are. He is free to campaign for Bantex, but he will find in us constant respondents to whatever tales of misrepresentations he may continue to unleash on undiscerning Nigerians.