The immediate past Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, Mr Bala Bantex, is dead.
He died on Sunday at the age of 64 after battling with an undisclosed illness.
Until his death, the late Bantex served as Deputy to Governor Nasir El-Rufai between 2015 to 2019, before he resigned and contested for Kaduna South Senatorial seat on the platform of the All Progressive Congress in Kaduna South Senatorial District in the 2019 election.
He lost the election to the incumbent Senator, Danjumah Laah of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Meanwhile, Governor Nasir El-Rufai has expressed sadness over the death of his former Deputy, saying that he lost a dear friend and partner in the service of Kaduna State.
In a statement, Governor El-Rufai said the people of the state will miss the brilliance and commitment of the late Bantex to the state, his easygoing manners, his sense of humour and steadfastness to his convictions.
The Governor said: “from our days as undergraduates in the 1970s to our practice as professional colleagues in the construction industry and eventually partners in a governance project, Bantex was consistently a dependable man of brilliance and imagination”.
He believed in the potential of our state and in the capacity of our people to work together for progressive attainments.
Together, we took on the task of providing new leadership for Kaduna State in 2015. He brought to his duties as Deputy Governor during our first term his unique insights as a politician with experience in navigating the diversity of our state. Bantex radiated hope and optimism in the future of our state, even when the circumstances were dreary.
Bantex had served the people of Kaduna State in several capacities prior to becoming Deputy Governor.
As a delegate to the 1994 Constitutional Conference, chairman of Kaura Local Government Council and member for Kaura Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, he was a sterling symbol of representative democracy.
I have spoken to his family and conveyed our condolence on behalf of the government and people of Kaduna State.
We shall work closely with his family to grant a befitting farewell to a man who gave so much to this even when hobbled by ill-health.
“We have been blessed to know Bantex and to work with him. We pray God to grant him peaceful repose and to comfort his wife, children and the entire family in this moment of grief and loss”.
A former Deputy-Governor of Kaduna State, Bala Bantex has opposed the idea of the federal or state governments granting amnesty to bandits.
Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, Bantex described statements credited to non-state actors on insecurity as a mark of failure.
“Gumi’s statement is also a show of a failing situation because when non-state actors are given the privilege to talk this way, rather than talk to authority over such sensitive issues, is a mark of failure as far as I am concerned,” he said.
“The issues Gumi is raising, some of them have touched the very core of the issue that brings about insecurity. Fortunately for him, people are battling with how to survive and they are not looking at the details of what he said.
“Negotiating with people who have destroyed the economy of thousands of Nigerians, who have made life so totally useless and who are still doing so is not ideal,” he said.
According to the former deputy governor, some people are benefitting from insecurity in Nigeria and would not want it to end.
“There are some people sitting out there who are benefitting from this and who would not let it go in a hurry,” he said in reaction to President Muhammadu Buhari’s directives to service chiefs for insecurity to end in the coming weeks.
“If the President has passed that directive, I trust his ability to provide what the service chiefs require. I don’t want to see a situation where it is only in their exit like the former Chief of Army Staff who at one time said insurgency had become a thing of the past.”
Amid the myriads of security challenges facing the country, the ex-deputy governor said there was a need for the Federal Government to create state police.
He however called on the National Assembly to create the necessary legislation for the creation of state police.
Bantex remarks come two days after President Buhari directed the new service chiefs to secure the country in only a few weeks.
Buhari while decorating them at a ceremony held in the State House, Abuja said he expected that before the rainy season, they would have secured the country to the level that farmers who had fled their farms in different parts of Nigeria would have developed enough confidence to return to their farms.
“During our four-hour security meeting, on Tuesday, I had taken the responsibility as Commander-in-Chief for you to go out into the field and secure the country.
“You have got a few weeks to do that because, by the rainy season, we expect people to develop confidence and go back to the land so that we don’t get into trouble by being away from the field and therefore unable to produce enough food for the nation,” President Buhari said.
The Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, Mr Bala Bantex, has declared his intention to contest for the state’s Southern senatorial seat on the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in 2019.
Bantex made the declaration on Thursday while addressing a news conference at his office in the Government House in Kaduna, North-West Nigeria.
“I have decided to offer myself as the APC candidate for the Kaduna South Senatorial District in the forthcoming 2019 election, he said. “I will continue to serve as Deputy Governor of Kaduna State while pursuing this aspiration.”
Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s deputy explained that the decision to contest the senatorial election was to deliver quality representation to the people of the district and to attract maximum dividends of democracy which he claimed was lacking under the current representative.
He added that his decision was a difficult one owing to the uncommon goodwill and brotherly relationship he has been enjoying with the governor.
Bantex, however, said he took the step due to what his people have gone through in the area of insecurity in the last 10 years and the inability of their leaders to rise against it.
“I am convinced that it is time for our people to firmly reject the poorest senatorial representation Zone 3 has had since 1999. I regret that some of the elected representation from my zone have not matched this broad-mindedness and constructive approach, in the interest of our people in Zone 3,” he alleged.
“I have, therefore, come to the conclusion that it is worth leaving the Office of Deputy Governor to put these issues on the ballot, as well as encourage more mature and sober political discourse in the area.”
The deputy governor had served as a member of the House of Representatives on the platform of the Action Congress, as well as a two-time Chairman of Kaura Local Government Area of the state.
The enlarged caucus of the All Progressive Congress (APC), in Kaduna state, has passed a vote of confidence on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Kaduna state governor, Nasir El-Rufai for their policy directions and style of governance.
These were parts of resolutions reached at the end of a meeting of the state caucus, held in the state capital.
The essence of the meeting was to appraise the performance of the APC led administration in delivering good governance to the people in the state, and discuss issues facing the party and how to move it forward.
The caucus dismissed insinuations that there was division among its members, but insisted that they are united and therefore won’t be distracted by those who hide under guise of criticism to pull down the APC government in the state.
In attendance at the meeting are all the major stakeholders of the party in the state including members of the state exco of the party, Governor El-Rufai and his deputy, Bala Bantex, Speaker of the Kaduna state House of Assembly, Aminu Shagali, the Senator representing Kaduna North, Otman Hunkuyi, National Assembly Members as well as local government and ward executives among others.
Briefing journalists after the meeting, governor El-Rufai’s Special Adviser on Political Matters and Inter Governmental relations, Uba Sani, maintained that the era of paying or rewarding blackmailers is over in the state, saying the Kaduna APC has no division or faction.
Sani, stressed that the present government under governor El-Rufai, is transforming the state and not to share money to politicians who criticize or blackmail for settlements.
“Kaduna state APC caucus meeting was well attended by governor Nasir El-Rufai, Deputy governor, Bala Yusuf Bantex, Senator representing Kaduna North zone, Suleiman Hunkuyi, the entire State House of Assembly leadership and members.
“All members of the caucus are here. We discussed the progress of our party and all our discussions went well.
“In Kaduna state, we have only one APC, we discussed on how to reposition the party for service delivery to the people of Kaduna State”, Sani expressed.
The stakeholders, including Speaker of Kaduna state House of Assembly, Aminu Shagali, said that they would remain united and ensure that the APC emerges victorious in the forthcoming local government election slated for July 2017.
They also commended governor El-Rufai for his memo to President Buhari which they note was done in good faith and aimed at moving the nation forward.
“Our elders also gave us useful suggestions; we don’t have any faction or division in Kaduna State APC.
“Our party leadership at ward level to state is intact, so we don’t have faction. You know this government does not settle or pay people for settlements. We are not going to settle anybody who disagrees or criticize the government.
“The governor has told us clearly and he was elected to develop Kaduna State and not to share money. In Kaduna State, even a blind man knows that there is transformation going on in the state”.
With four months to the local government election in the state, stakeholders at this meeting said they would not be distracted by any group whose interest would be to cause crisis in the party.
It was also convened to forestall any form of reprisal attacks in Kaduna State, and seek the support of the leaders in finding solutions to the Southern Kaduna crisis which has claimed so many lives.
Resident community leaders comprising of Igbo, Yoruba, Igala and others from various part of the country gathered at the Government House, on the invitation of the Kaduna State Government.
Speaking, Mr Bantex warned those trying to incite unnecessary tensions in the state as a result of recent events elsewhere to desist from circulating videos, images and making inciting comments.
He appealed to the community leaders to prevail on their subjects to uphold peace in the state, remain calm and firmly reject any attempt to drag them into any form of violent behaviour.
Enemies Of Peace
“Those trying to incite unnecessary tensions in the state because of what is happening in Ile Ife, Osun State should desist from circulating videos and images with inciting commentary and calls to citizens for reprisals.
“Already, the unfortunate incidents in that part of the country have been contained and taken care of, so the government will not watch enemies of peace capitalising on the situation to cause problems in Kaduna State, using images and videos to incite reprisals.
“People circulating images and calling for reprisals are enemies of peaceful society, and all citizens must say no to them.
“The Kaduna State Government is determined to ensure that anyone or group of persons distributing images and videos calling for revenge are arrested and prosecuted.
“Citizens must support the government to ensure that every threat to law and order in the state is defeated,” he said.
Speaking on the crisis in Southern Kaduna, the Acting Governor noted that the violence was purely an act of criminality and banditry, contrary to the Christian against Muslim crisis as widely believed.
According to him, the most peaceful local government area in Kaduna State is Jaba Local Government Area, which is one of the eight local governments that make up the ‘Zone Three’ called Southern Kaduna.
The leader of the Community Leaders Forum and President-General of Yoruba Traditional Rulers Council in the 19 Northern States, Abdulganiyu Oguntoyinbo, in his response said those responsible for the Ile Ife crisis did not represent the Yorubas as a people.
He urged the Yoruba community in Kaduna and Northern Nigeria to remain calm, peaceful and shun reprisal attacks.
“We are tired of blood spilling and we therefore appeal to our political, religious and traditional leaders irrespective of their differences to come together and find a lasting solution to the recurring crises,” Oguntoyinbo said.
While commending the Kaduna State Government for convening the meeting to acquaint them on the measures taken to protect lives and properties of citizens, especially the non-indigenes, he lauded the Governor, Nasir El-Rufai’s administration for the ongoing infrastructural development in the state.
Although the community leaders commended the recent steps taken by government and security agencies to end the attacks in Southern Kaduna, they expressed concern over the negative consequence of the crisis on the socio-economic development of the state.
Reports say so far, many lives and properties were reportedly lost in about 10 sectarian crises in Kaduna State in the past 30 years.
The Deputy Governor of Kaduna state, Bala Bantex, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian military for the successful capture of the last stronghold of Boko Haram terrorists in Sambisa forest in Borno state.
In a Christmas message he sent to the President and Governor Nasir El-Rufai, Mr Bantex commends the President for his determination and encouragement to the Armed Forces by providing them with the necessary logistics to execute the anti-terrorism war in the northeast within the short period he came into office.
He said that the final onslaught against the Boko Haram insurgents at ‘camp zero’, which is located deep within the heart of Sambisa forest, was the best Christmas gift for the people of northeast and Nigerians in general.
He added that the social life that has returned to Borno state and other parts of the region is a manifestation of triumph of light over darkness.
Bantex, while commending the military for the success, also expressed optimism that with President’s Buhari’s promise to locate two military formations in the southern part of Kaduna state, the incessant clashes between suspected herdsmen and the natives would soon be a thing of the past.
He gave the assurance that the APC government in Kaduna state under the leadership of Nasir El-Rufai would continue with its “Make Kaduna Great Agenda”, which is anchored on provision of basic infrastructure, improved welfare of civil servants and ensuring of security of lives and property of the citizens of the state.
He called on all Nigerians irrespective of their tribal or religious differences to embrace the peace, love and tolerance in commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ who came to the world to redeem mankind.
The Kaduna state government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) to train prison inmates in skills and vocational education.
Following the MoU, prison inmates across the state will now be trained on some vocational skills that would make them self-reliant after serving their jail terms.
At the ceremony, the Deputy Governor of Kaduna state, Bala Bantex, signed on behalf of the state government while the Vice Chancellor of the National Open University of Nigeria, Professor Abdalla Adamu, signed for the institution.
Under the partnership, the state government will provide the startup packs for the training, while the university will provide the manpower and facilities.
Speaking to reporters at the end of the event, the Kaduna State Deputy Governor said that the programme is aimed at rehabilitating and empowering prison inmates who are serving their jail terms with the necessary skills that will enable them to become useful to the society upon completion of their jail terms.
The Deputy Governor also hinted that the state government is also partnering with the state prison command to ensure that prisons across the state are decongested and given a face lift in line with global best practices.
The Vice Chancellor of National Open University of Nigeria, Professor Abdalla Adamu, while commending the Kaduna state government for initiating the training programme, called on other states across the country to take a cue from Kaduna.
He disclosed that the training would be free of charge and added that the university is also offering free university education for prison inmates across the country.
On his part, the Kaduna State Controller of Prisons, Yazid Alhassan, commended the state government for the gesture, which he said would help in reducing the level of crime in the society.
Kaduna is the first state in the Nigeria to initiate such programme aimed at reducing crime in the country.
At least 700 inmates across the state are expected to benefit from the training programme.
The federal government must as a matter of urgency commit enough funds to creating seismic stations across the country for the effective monitoring of natural occurrences to provide avenues for proactive approaches to managing natural disasters.
The President, Nigerian Mining and Geo-Sciences Society, Prof. Gbenga Okunlola, gave this hint in an interview with Channels Television at the Department of Geology, University of Ibadan.
Prof. Okunlola said that presently there is no need for Nigerians to panic as the country is in a safe zone and not prone to earth quakes.
He added that the tremors that have been reported in Saki, Oyo State and Kwoi in Kaduna state are local tremors of about 2.3 on the Richter scale and could have resulted from mining activities in those areas or change in weather.
He explained further that the tremors are caused by vibrations within micro fractions possibly from mining activities which gets heated up and expanded in high temperature but trembles when persistent rainfall percolates such openings.
Prof. Okunlola added that Nigeria has enough geologists and related scientists that government could leverage on to protect the environment decisively at all times.
Similarly, the National Space Research and Development Agency had in September, attributed the recent tremor in Jama Local Government Area of Kaduna State to passive sources.
There were three reports of earth tremor at Kwoi community in Jaba Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, has visited Kwoi community in Jaba Local Government Area of the state, to commiserate with the residents following the earth tremor that occurred in the community last week.
The paramount ruler of the community, briefed the governor, who arrived the community in company of his deputy, Bala Bantex and other top government officials, on how the incident occurred.
El-Rufai condoled with the victims after meeting with residents at the palace of their traditional ruler.
Although he described the earth tremor as shocking and the first of its kind in the area, he expressed gratitude to God that no life was lost from the incident.
The Governor stated that the incident was exaggerated in the media and said that the government was waiting for the outcome of investigation by various experts who have visited the community, in order to the know the next action to take.
The paramount ruler, while hosting the Governor, said that “the earth tremor took the residents by surprise, and has since created tension in the community”.
He commended the state and federal government for the concerns they have shown since the incident occurred.
Meanwhile, most of the residents, especially non-indigenes that fled the community in the wake of the earth tremor, are yet to return while others still in the community, express fears about their safety.