The recent declaration by Kaduna’s Deputy Governor, Architect Barnabas Yusuf Bala popularly known as Bantex to contest the Southern Kaduna senatorial seat under the All Progressive Congress (APC) in 2019 has been viewed by political strategists as a masterstroke of the Kaduna APC to bring on board a man with vast legislative and executive experience to fill the void in Southern Kaduna Senatorial District.
A first-class graduate of Architecture from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, his first foray was in the private sector where he established Bantex Consortium which contributed to numerous engineering projects including the Medical Centre at the Nigerian Institute for Policy & Strategic Studies (NIPSS), as well as a pavilion at the Kaduna Trade Fair Centre. He successfully ran for Chairman of Kaura Local Government where he was credited with the implementation of numerous developmental projects one of which was a hospital commissioned by President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2001, the only LG project ever commissioned by a sitting President at the time.
Bantex delved into politics as a member of the opposition in a zone that was totally controlled by the then ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) where he won a seat to serve in the House of Representatives under the platform of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) representing Kaura Federal Constituency. This feat made Hon. Barnabas Bala the only ACN legislator in the entire North West geo-political zone of Nigeria. He played a vital role in the merger of defunct CPC, ACN and ANPP in Kaduna State. In 2014, he successfully ran for the Chairman of APC in Kaduna State and led the party commendably with fairness, transparency and openness. These qualities endeared him to party faithful’s and the flagbearer, Nasir el-Rufai, chose him as his running mate after consulting party elders, stakeholders and then candidate General Muhammadu Buhari. He continues to have the complete trust of his governor and is identified as probably most influential deputy governor in the 36 states of the nation as he chairs numerous strategic committees and is in full acting whenever the Governor is out of office.
The recent local government elections in Kaduna State is a big pointer to the rising popularity of APC Government in Southern Kaduna where the dominant party PDP lost two important local governments; Sanga and Kagarko LGs and the APC made in-roads into other Local Governments. It is clear that an increasing number of voters in the Zone are appreciative of the developmental efforts of the APC government which has made huge and unprecedented capital investments worth over 30 Billion Naira in Southern Kaduna from 2015 to date.
The inclusion of Bantex in the cabinet and his strong voice towards Southern Kaduna influenced the siting of projects worth over 30 Billion Naira in the zone including Kauru N8bn, Kagarko N5.7BN, Kachia N6.3BN and Zangon Kataf N6.8bn respectively.
Bantex as Deputy Governor to el-Rufai must be the envy of his colleagues- who operates freely with so much influence and contributed immensely towards the progress of Southern Kaduna and Kaduna State at large, having played a prominent role in the Peace efforts in Southern Kaduna and ensured the completion of Late Yakowa’s projects in Southern Kaduna which were abandoned by his successor-Mukhtar Ramalan Yero and also influenced the citing of several projects in the zone notably – the Vicampro Potatoes Farm and the Manchok Solar Power project etc.
In the words of former Kaduna State Governor, former National Chairman of PDP and current PDP Presidential Aspirant, Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi “ Bantex has proved to be unbiased, somebody that believes in justice, equity and honesty to all and not beclouded by religious or ethnic sentiments, he is one of those who really helped me and my administration to come through the troubles that my administration went through in the year 2000-2002 because of the ethno-religious conflicts in Kaduna State”.
Arc. Barnabas Bala Bantex will be running against the incumbent PDP Senator Danjuma La’ah (if he eventually get the PDP ticket, which looks highly unlikely). Danjuma La’ah who has performed woefully in the senate having been ranked as the worst of all the past southern Kaduna senators will have an uphill task confronting the quintessential Bantex.