By; FUNMI OROYE ADERINTO, Kaduna
The Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, Architect Barnabas Bala Bantex on Thursday said “our personal and official relationship has given me every confidence in the firm and enduring goodwill of Malam Nasir El-Rufai towards every part of the state.
Bantex expressed this during a press briefing on Thursday in Kaduna on his political aspirations.
The Deputy Governor said, “It has been my privilege and honour to be at the heart of the new political movement in Kaduna State since 2014 when I emerged as the first elected state chairman of the All Progressives Congress.
“This journey has included the great honour to be asked to be the running-mate to Malam Nasir El-Rufai as the APC’s candidate for the governorship of Kaduna State.
“Our party’s victory in 2015 thrust upon me the immense responsibility of serving as Deputy-Governor in a government that has in a most determined manner worked to bring change to governance and make life better for our people.
“I have had the great pleasure to work with a team that has achieved a lot in human capital development, making health and education more accessible to ordinary people, building infrastructure and vigorously promoting equality of opportunity.
“I have been impressed by the resilience of this team in implementing its governance agenda without succumbing to the blackmail of those used to the politics of patronage; or retreating in the face of the determined resistance of elite forces accustomed to benefitting from their deliberate stoking of ethno-religious fires.
“From unique actions in introducing electronic voting, implementing TSA, remaking the public service, recruiting qualified teachers, equipping primary health centres, building township roads and creating jobs in the public and private sectors, this government has shown uncommon courage and foresight.
“With utmost confidence in the fairmindedness, the results accomplished, and the work being done by the APC government of Kaduna State, under the inspiring leadership of Malam Nasir El-Rufai, he decided to offer himself as the APC candidate for the Kaduna South Senatorial District.
“As Deputy-Governor, I have had several opportunities to witness this commitment to equity, and I regret that the some of the elected representation from my zone has not matched this broad-mindedness and constructive approach, in the interest of of our people in Zone 3.
“I have therefore come to the conclusion that it is worth leaving the office of Deputy Governor to put these issues on the ballot, encourage more mature and sober political discourse in the area, in order to deliver the desirable quality of representation for our people, and attract the maximum dividend of democracy.
“This has been a very difficult decision for me in view of the uncommon goodwill and brotherly relationship that I currently enjoy with Malam Nasir El-Rufai who has elevated between Governor and Deputy Governor to a level of mutual respect, engagement and involvement that is unparalleled in our democracy, a fact that is apparent to even the most casual observer of political events in Kaduna State .
“It is my firm intention to run on the record of the El-Rufai government in promoting development across the state.
“I am fully prepared to challenge anyone that represents the failures of the past in delivering the best or our people. I am convinced that it is time for our people to firmly reject the poorest senatorial representation Zone 3 has had since 1999.
“By God’s grace, and with the support of the people, I have been privileged to serve as a Member of the House of Representatives on the platform of the Action Congress.
“I understood that such an office imposed on me a duty of responsible representation, and this obligation led me to seek and maintain good relations with the State Governor at the time, His Excellency, Namadi Sambo despite his being of the PDP.
“I left the House of Representatives in 2011, but I did not drop my duty of representation. Despite not holding any formal political office at the time, I engaged the PDP governments of Sir Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa and his successor constructively on the deterioration in the security situation in the southern Kaduna senatorial district.
“Amidst the killings that were happening in various locations in Southern Kaduna in the 2011-2014 period, I did not see the loss of lives as an opportunity to seek a self-aggrandising mandate or to be paralysed into a predictable blame game.
“Rather, I engaged with the state government to relief human suffering and stop the bleeding. In pursuit of this duty, I rode in the same vehicle with the then Deputy Governor, His Excellency Nuhu Bajoga, to visit and assess the scenes of carnage.
In fact, when an irresponsible reporter falsely reported that Fulanis had been killed in my immediate community in 2014, I summoned meetings of all the groups in the community where our Fulani brethren confirmed that they did not suffer such a calamity.
“I have outlined these to show that my approach to security and governance issues in government is consistent with my conduct outside government.
It pleased the Almighty God to give me the privilege to be a member of the 1994 Constitutional Conference and to later become a local government chairman for two terms.
“I also served as the Secretary-General of the Southern Kaduna’s People Union (SOKAPU), whose logo I designed.
“Through all these diverse engagements, I have represented my people with energy and passion, within a framework of fairness, justice and equity to all. I have never partaken in demonizing any section of our state.
“I have been consistent in seeing politics as a bridge-building process, avoiding the restrictive narrative of “we versus them”. My upbringing and exposure have shaped me in a way that I could never succumb to the victim mentality.
“In making this run for the Senate, I wish to present a clear alternative, clear the cobwebs of prejudice from our political discourse and energise my party, the, APC in Zone 3.
“It is my firm desire to take this course, persuaded that if we are to save our people from the scourge of poor representation and divisiveness, major steps like this are required.
“Our campaign will pose the question of what 16 years of PDP rule did in the area, beyond making certain persons ministers, commissioners and the like.
“We will engage our people on substance, asking questions as to what actual development, if any, PDP brought to our people. The future of the majority of our people is certainly more valuable than the pettiness of entitled elite.
“A few months ago, I informed Malam Nasir El-Rufai, about my desire to take this step. The governor was understandably reluctant.
“After all, he it was who persuaded me to return to politics in 2014 and has enabled me to play high-profile roles since.
“But I repeatedly pressed him to let me take this step. Malam Nasir El-Rufai eventually conceded after briefing and securing the consent of the President on my desire to pursue this aspiration.
“I look forward to a vigorous campaign and I hope to see the return of reasoned civility to political discourse. We are a free people, and we must eliminate forever the victim syndrome, and reject all those who seek to enslave our people by making them believe that the world is structured against them.
“Rather than isolating ourselves, the responsibility of leadership is to help drive a positive political agenda for our people, based on physical and human development, and consistent progress. This is the challenge that I am offering myself to lead, with the blessing of Almighty God, the statement said.