Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, said his only disagreement with the former Deputy Governor of the State, Barnabas Yusuf Bala (Bantex), who died almost two weeks ago, was over his intention to resign.
El-Rufai, on Thursday, said he and Bantex had never argued, let alone quarrel or engage in fisticuffs as was widely rumoured at the beginning of their administration between 2015 and 2019.
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“The only disagreement we ever had, had to do with his offer, not once but three times to resign his office as deputy governor. Thrice I rejected,” he said.
The governor, who was speaking at a valedictory session of the Kaduna State Executive Council held in honour of Bantex at the Sir. Kashim Ibrahim House, said: “He offered to resign because he felt that the open hostility of some leaders, groups and associations from his senatorial district will 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,” he revealed.
El-Rufai also described the deceased as a good man whose emergence made the office of the deputy governor of Kaduna State the most powerful of such office in Nigeria.
He further said that such was the esteem in which Bantex was held that he was the only deputy governor to be part of the President’s entourage to the United Nations General Assembly in 2015.
“The greatest tribute to Bantex for us as a government is how his election as deputy governor of this State has made the office the most powerful of any State in the country.
“Our deputy governors in Kaduna State are not spare tyres. He acted as State Governor, leading with integrity and chairing our State Executive Council so many times when I was out of the country,” he said.
“As a former local government chairman, he was an authority on local government administration and responsible for the autonomy we granted all our LGAs from day one in 2015… he also convinced our cabinet to legislate on the presidential system of local government- a first in Kaduna State and one of the few states in Nigeria practising this system faithfully,” El-Rufai said.