Bantex: Protagonist or Victim of Circumstances
By Richard Dukpa Dambo

Francis Damina’s “Bantex: Victim of Circumstances” made good reading . While Mr. Damina’s piece was incisive enough to make a reader acquainted with the biography of his excellency Architect Barnabas Bala Bantex, the Deputy Governor of Kaduna state . It did not raise fundamental links as to whether Bantex’s decision to contest for the position of Kaduna South Senatorial District was borne to salvage the region from socioeconomic doldrums or massage the ego of Kaduna mafias.

If political correctness is the path that Bantex handlers are championing in projecting the impasse that are evolving within the APC and the region at large in the glare of all, then it is either they are setting the chart before the horse or not sincere in their admonitions. Bantex was the state chairman of the APC in Kaduna State before he was paired with El-Rufai in the run-up to the 2015 elections and became Deputy Governor when the APC won the election. His intention to abandon the joint ticket in 2019 has given rise to all sorts of interpretations. Daily Trust Newspaper on Saturday August 11th 2018 had proffered the opinion of a fraction thus: “The first is that it is an indication of a rift in the Government House and that the deputy was being sacrificed for political exigencies….” It is not hard to decipher the point Francis Damina wanted to buttress when he tagged Bantex a victim of circumstances. If the intention was to exonorate Bantex from the storm he now has to weather, then the notion falls short of the ilk of a man once celebrated by his kinsmen as a Mandela of sorts. In the battle for the soul of Kaduna South Senatorial District, Bantex should lay bare the developmental strides he has endeared to the region using his exalted position.

Albeit Architect Bantex’s antecedents speaks volumes, he spoke against the marginalisation of Southern Kaduna at the 1994 constitutional conference, then went ahead to become Secretary-General of the Southern Kaduna People’s Union(SOKAPU), whose logo we were told he designed. Bantex won elections as a lone-star on the platform of an opposition party as Kaura Local Government Chairman and later Member Federal House of Representatives. However this valour seem fizzled with his appointment as Deputy Governor. Just as a legion of opinion believe the government Bantex deputises has derided the Southern Kaduna people . While I am aware that holding a second fiddle position requires a willingness to engage in a range of compromises, power-sharing and deal-making with a cross section of interests — often in conflict with each other. But does it mean that principles are tempered for security of office. Signposting that an activist turned politician cannot be sympathetic or supportive of progressive causes in which he championed as an activist. Could the foregoing be reasons why Damina succinctly noted that “… journalism is simply history written in a hurry” which gives an impression that there are gaps between Bantex’s ordeal and media reports. This reminds me of William Faulkner’s words that opined “the best fiction is far more true than any journalism”. If the Bantex narratives are fictional as Damina wants to make us believe, then the burden of proof lies on the Architect’s aides to explain before they become trurer than History.

The imports from the Bantex cul-de-sac shows that we have become experts in investing churn time in glorification of one personality against another nay our arguments are always factored on individual indices. Similarly we have formed a habbit for argumentum ad hominem (discussing the person and leaving the issue) . As stakeholders in the struggle for the development of Southern Kaduna, we hold town hall meetings and read-out well articulated communiqués which does not go beyond the spirit of letters. We parade ourselves as intellectuals who have excelled in various spheres of endeavour . But how have our politics influence the gamut of socioeconomic potentials of the zone? What is the value of our political positions ? Who exactly are we politicking for, and for what purpose ? We blame politicians from the other divide but in reality have not done better than that.

In his speech titled ‘Southern Politics is Bridge-Building, not a Pity Party’, the Deputy Governor had said, “I have therefore come to the conclusion that it is worth leaving the office of Deputy Governor to put these issues on the ballot, to 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.” At this juncture, It is needful that political discourse should consolidate on the stewardship of our present position and not hinge on what contestants would do if elected.

Let’s recall the foregoing lest anybody – especially members of region’s vast community of conscience such as, activists, civil society leaders, intellectuals, who have been largely silent – to be able to claim that they did not know that the campaigns build-up especially in the context of the current face-off, is signifying our condition, our choices and future direction. Ahead of the 2019 elections, we must mend fences and come up with superior ideas that will bring about the economic progression of the region , or else all scheming to chart a way forward for southern Kaduna will be tantamount to looking for the proverbial dark cat in a dark room.

Dambo, a postgraduate student of Education and Society writes from Abuja.

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