Bantex was a true friend, we had just one disagreement: El-Rufai
Governor Nasir El Rufai of Kaduna State has said that the death of his former deputy, Barnabas Bala Bantex, was a personal loss to him.
The governor said on Thursday, at a valedictory session of the Kaduna State Executive Council in honour of Bantex, that his death was a sad development to the state.
Mr El-Rufai said Mr Bantex was a highly resourceful leader, patriot, whose friendship with him lasted more than 40 years.
He described Mr Bantex as a good man whose emergence made the office of the Deputy Governor in the state, a very powerful position in Nigeria.
He said such was the esteem in which Bantex was held, as he was the only deputy governor to be part of the president’s entourage to the United Nations General Assembly in 2015.
He pointed out that successive deputy governors in Kaduna State had always been held in great esteem.
“He acted as state governor, leading with integrity and chairing our State Executive Council so many times when I was out of the country.
“Bantex also chaired our KADIPA, SEMA, JAAC, Power Reform Committee, Ease of Doing Business Committee and the State Tenders Board at various times,’’ he said.
In his emotion-laden speech, Mr El-Rufai noted that the deceased was a great ambassador for Kaduna State at national and international events.
The governor said Mr Bantex was steadfast, courageous and collegial.
Mr El-Rufai said that Kaduna State would miss him for coming out of retirement to establish the APC in Kaduna State.
According to Mr El-Rufai, Mr Bantex was the first elected chairman of APC in the state and thereafter his running mate personally selected by President Buhari from shortlisted names in 2014.
“Bantex, a former local government chairman, was an authority in local government administration and responsible for the autonomy we granted all our LGAs when we assumed office in 2015,’’ he said.
“Bantex convinced the state’s Cabinet to legislate on the presidential system of local government- first in Kaduna State and few states in Nigeria.”
The Governor disclosed that he and Bantex had never argued with each other , let alone quarreled as was widely rumoured at the beginning of the administration.
“The only disagreement we ever had had to do with his offer to resign his office as deputy governor thrice. Thrice I rejected the offer.
“He offered to resign because he felt that the hostility of some leaders, groups and associations from his senatorial district would be reduced if he resigned, and if I conceded to such persons, the right to nominate his replacement.
“I assured Bantex that under no circumstance will any person or group dictate who I work with as Deputy Governor.
“I appealed to him to stay and he agreed. I am very grateful to him for that,’’ Mr El-Rufai revealed.
He recalled that the last time Mr Bantex attended the meeting of the State Executive Council was in May 2019 due to poor health.
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