In celebrating Nigeria’s democracy, one name that comes to my mind is that of the former member representing Kaltungo/Shongom federal constituency of Gombe state, Hon. Fatima Binta Bello (Jakadiyar Kaltungo), who exemplifies and redefines the basis of selecting political office holders.
As we choose who to celebrate in Nigeria’s democracy day I choose to celebrate Hon. Binta Bello for her glaring efforts in representing her people.
On September 19, 2019, I was in Transcorp Hilton to attend a book (Through the Eye of the Needle) launch in honour of late. Hon. Justice Abdu-Kafarati Adamu, who was at that same day taking a bow out of service. I was in the first row of the seat when Binta Bello, accompanied by one septuagenarian, appeared to sit beside me – Binta is a sophisticated and popular politician in Gombe state that each and every person interested in governance must be aware of her trajectories and gestures towards her people. She was a member of Gombe state executive council during the Senator Danjuma Goje administration and was deputy minority whip during the second term of her two-term membership of the House of Representatives from 2011-2019.
It was our first meeting but we had an interesting chat on good governance and responsible democratic dispensation. I don’t know may be because of the socio-economic and moral ambiance of our environment at that time, she was very humble and open that we explore deeply in discussions about how she was not returned elected when she contested for senator for Gombe South in 2019. How she was so faithful to accept the results of the election when she has the entire requisite to contest it in the tribunal remains a mystery to many. She said she accepted as destiny and believes this is part of what she needs to learn in her political chronicles.
I don’t intend to highlight Binta’s achievements but to portray how while out of power she is redefining good governance, economic power and responsible democratic representation. In the last two years that she’s relieved of any formal responsibility from Gombe south senatorial district she appears to be the most responsive, participatory and performing stakeholder well above those who were voted to represent the region in 2019. This has been affirmed by most people from her constituency.
While the dichotomy between people of diverse groups is relatively increasing in the state, she is glorifying our conscience with an indubitable belief that in 2023, so long we want good governance we must set aside all differences and get ready for serious business. She is reaffirming the fact that nations and states that failed are victims of their own fears, moral and political decadence. Inversely, nations and people that triumph today are celebrating the meaning of sincerity of purpose, honesty and unity, irrespective of their diversities.
Binta is apparently proving that selection of political office holders shouldn’t be predicated on monolithic kind of arrangements where over-zealousness and iconoclastic views are held stringently. But, selection must be on the basis of competence, sincerity of purpose and glaring political commitment.
Binta’s political participation indicates how such commitments will result in tangible gains for democracy, including greater responsiveness to citizen needs, increased cooperation across party and ethnic lines, and more sustainable peace.
All over she has proven that the meaningful participation of women in national, local and community leadership roles has become an important focus of global development policy.
It is now left to the people of Gombe South who enjoy the best of Binta Bello to sift through and weigh whether if selection of representatives will either be on the basis of competence or otherwise.
Abdullahi, a public affairs anlyst, writes from Abuja.