BY SIMON REEF MUSA
An apology by the former Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, Architect Yusuf Bala Barnabas, popularly known as Bantex, away from the corridors of power, has set tongues wagging. On hearing the apologies, a close confidant of mine had summarily dismissed the remorseful disposition of Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai’s former deputy, explaining that his confession and formal disengagement from partisan politics may not have been unconnected with the failed promises of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to give him an appointment.
el-Rufai had, in June 2019 in a valedictory session in honour of Bantex, expressed confidence that President Muhammadu Buhari, would give an appointment to the former deputy governor, considering his closeness with the man at Aso Rock Villa, Abuja. It was therefore shocking that even when Kaduna state was given two ministerial slots, Bantex’s name was missing on the list. The hope that an ambassadorial appointment may smile his way proved a mirage 24 hours before the interview in which he formally retired from partisan politics.
Bantex, who used the interview session to drew the curtain over partisan politics said, “But, be that as it may, I want to use this forum to do two things: One is to say to the people of Southern Kaduna, that to the extent that I cannot convince them going by what I’ve heard [that is for the record). Judging from what people are saying, there is a lack of confidence in what I am saying.
“I will do two things: one, I will apologize for trying to defend what I know, to the extent that I cannot convince my people. The second thing is, politics is not for me the ultimate. I have issues with my faith, I have issues to settle with God, 25 years have taken up my time from what I ought to do. I will use this opportunity to ask that the people of God should pray for me, because I think moving out from this studio I’ll take a bow from partisan politics. I have done that before, I have been pressurized to come back. By the grace of God I think this time it will be different.
“I will continue however to give my voice if sought, but I do understand that my association with this political party, with this government at this point in time, when the insecurity is so ravaging the entire country, including my own place, I understand that it is the most herculean task, you know, to give reasons why we should do a detour and think differently. I, therefore will, want to tell everybody that I’m sorry for all that has happened and that as I am moving out of this place, I will look at the world at different direction”
That Bantex felt the need to apologise over his past roles reflects a new awakening. His appeal for prayers from his people he once accused of hating APC on the basis of being a Muslim party is a further demonstration that light has beamed across his path. For apologising and closing the lid over partisan politics could not have been deliberately planned, but a reaction to the deluge of telephone calls that painted him as not serving the interest of his people.
Having lost out in both the ministerial and ambassadorial appointments, the Kaura-born politician needed no seer to convince him that he had been taken for a long ride into political wilderness as it suddenly dawned on him that the chickens have finally come home to roost. Was that then the reason why Bantex walked away from a party that had promised him a cow for lunch but failed to give him a rat for dinner?
Social media analysts are wont to exercise carefulness over what they describe as a reversal of what Bantex had always been in the corridors of power. The act of contrition and hurried retirement from partisan politics is Bantex’s reaction to the long winter of political isolation that served as prologue to his twilight years in public consciousness
For those who are close to the former chairman of the Kaduna APC that would later serve as deputy to the former FCT Minister, his adversarial disposition against his own people in the face of spiraling insecurity that turned his zone into a mass killing field is well known. At a meeting called by the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) at the Kaduna Hamdala Hotel sometimes in 2017 or so, the Architect denied the existence of any area called Southern Kaduna and disparagingly urged his people to forsake agitating for Southern Kaduna.
His apology, even though half-hearted, is welcomed. Bantex remains the only politician in Southern Kaduna who has uttered an apology and sought prayers for divine intervention in the tragedy that has befallen the zone’s political class. Some people have had cause to call me and inquired why I wrote that Bantex’s future would be greater than his present in one of my social media postings. Like most members of SK political elite, the former deputy governor, while in the corridors of power, was irredeemably plagued by arrogance and holding tight to narratives that were aimed at justifying the denigration of his people and reducing them into political nothingness.
Bantex is a metaphor for what has been ailing most members of our political class in Southern Kaduna. Here is a man who was once a political icon of his people. When denied a ticket in one of the parties, he contested on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), then a leprosy party in Southern Kaduna, but scaled through the polls to represent his people in the National Assembly. That should have taught him a lesson that if our people are not forgetful of past sacrifices, they are also not forgetful of betrayals. His return to politics as APC chairman of Kaduna State should have set him on a higher plain to solidify his political prominence, but his emergence as deputy governor in May 29, 2015 proved his greatest albatross.
However, I am aware that el-Rufai’s former deputy had his disappointments and his regrets, and it is not for me to point them out. I am patiently awaiting his memoirs to unveil what really transpired while in the corridors of power. As a close observer of politics and happenings in the state, I wish to state here that I hold some members of Southern Kaduna political class in total contempt and disdain as most of them are in politics to serve their stomachs. Arising from the fact that politics is seen from a commercial perspective, the manifest failures of democracy have encrusted the hopes of our people for so long.
Whether PDP or APC, our politicians remain the same, no difference. Not only has parties’ leaderships become cancerous, the electorate are not willing to unlearn the past. The absence of vision, coupled with the greedy nature of our politicians have turned Southern Kaduna into a minefield of perpetual poverty and intrigues as our society is engaged in hailing the glory of the past, but lamenting on the dreadful woes of the present.
Our political representatives and appointees at all the three tiers of government have taken us for a ride and have hijacked the people’s power through the desecration of the sanctity of the ballot box by giving unfettered access to any government in power to manipulate the electoral system.
If past military regimes that had our prominent persons did enough to provide us with an effective platform to compete, may be things would have been different. It would not be wrong seeing most members of our Southern Kaduna political class as Judases, who are only interested in making merchandise of their people. Their troubling silence when killer herdsmen embarked on vicious killings and decimation of our communities is legendary. For Bantex, his silence was embarrassingly loud.
However, Bantex’s apology should be commended as it gives hope that our politicians who have abandoned the people, would one day return home and clean the slate with the sole view of standing up for their people. By apologising, even though half-heartedly as some would describe it, Bantex has commenced a cleansing of his past in a bid to clean himself of a burden.
As I was thinking of writing this piece, a prominent son of Southern Kaduna called to fault the decision by Bantex to retire from active politics. His reason: he has seen so much that he needs to mentor others in playing the game of politics. Now that he has shut himself out of partisan politics, he is now free to express his views without let or hindrance. Bantex’s apologies can only serve the purpose it was intended for only if he mobilises forces towards addressing issues that affect his people across ethnic, religious and political lines. Let it be known that when we criticised him for what he failed to do despite our expectations, we did that in the hope of raising him from the deep slumber he found himself.
I may still have my doubts over this public apology tendered by Bantex, but I believe that what comes after the apology is more crucial. Our present political leaders have failed us. Our present representatives are now woeful failures of our dream, they have resorted to money to ensure their re-elections at all cost. In a society where money is worshiped, the hope for development is pushed back with unprecedented speed.
As Bantex noted during an earlier interview with ECWA Television that whether PDP or APC, Southern Kaduna is in trouble. The time has come for all of us to come together and salvage what remains of our democracy from some members of the political class whose interests have never wandered from defending their selfish interests and pretending to be representing us. We must enthrone the supremacy of the people’s right if we want to change the narrative.
For now, Bantex’s great future as a leader can only go far to the extent he allows sincerity and loyalty to his own people hold sway in an area where politicians have abandoned their people for a mere pot of porridge.
I would rather have a half-hearted apology than be cursed with an arrogant posturing of a political class that is neither effective nor engaged in discharging its mandates in defense of the people. Let us not be too quick to judge a man who has come to realise his mistakes and is willing to make atone for the past. Such apologies, when taken and considered with right motives, can serve as a door to greatness in humility. Just like I look forward with fervency that someday some members of the Southern Kaduna political class would apologise for constantly raping our democracy and trading with the future of unborn generations,
I still have great respect for the former deputy governor who has not only apologised for the past, but has also requested that the people of God should pray for him to draw divine strength and support for the future.