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Ahmad Babba Kaita: Former senator with a difference, by Prof M.K. Othman

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Ahmad Babba Kaita: Former senator with a difference, by Prof M.K. Othman

Deep Thought with Othman 

At the height of the 2015 political campaign, Katsina State APC governorship candidate Masari decided to spend a night in each of the 34 local government headquarters as a strategy to interact with the local people and indicate he was one of their kith and kin. Many of us blindly following the Buhari campaign train were not only in support of the strategy but also expended our limited resources to advance it. When it was the turn of Bindawa Local Government to host Masari for a night’s sleep, many people were afraid of hosting him to avoid the wrath of the then-governor Shema. I was then approached to provide my house to accommodate Masari, which I promptly did with enthusiasm against the advice of my friend, who felt I should not be seen opposing the Shema’s government. Bindawa and 11 other LGAs are located in the Daura Senatorial Zone, with six LGAs each under Katsina and Daura emirates, respectively. The people in Bindawa and other local government areas within the Daura Senatorial Zone are the political underdogs and play the role of grass when the two emirates, Katsina and Daura, flex their muscles. Their muscles flexing has always been subterranean but visible enough to imbalance the political equation in the state.  Senator Ahmed Babba Kaita and the people he served in the ninth assembly were victims of the muscle flexing and political shenanigan of Nigerian politicians in the 2023 election.

Even his adversaries could not but agree that Ahmed Babba Kaita distinguished himself as a senator and served Nigeria faithfully, loyally, and honestly. He deserved to be returned as a senator in the tenth assembly, but the selfishness of Nigerian politicians and electorates’ docility prevented it. The number of developmental projects, human capital enhancement, legislative duties, and economic empowerment projects was uncountable. People were amazed at Senator Babba Kaita’s ability to excel in discharging his legislative responsibilities while providing extra services to his people. This extraordinary performance threatened a lame-duck seating governor and his cohorts, who trickly used their positions to wrestle Babba Kaita’s seat in the 2023 election. Some politicians have no shame, someone who failed to complete the rehabilitation of a 100-kilometer road linking Malumfashi to Zaria, which passes through his ancestral home in eight years, but had time to disrupt the excellent career of a performing senator. “That is Nigeria,” to borrow the typical expression of Dan Bello, the modern-day Hausa comedian who is becoming a pain in the ass of Nigerian political leaders. The rest is history; Babba Kaita is now a former senator. What makes Babba Kaita different from the rest of the formers?

Bindawa town, the colonial district headquarters before Nigerian independence with one of the first-generation primary schools established in 1927, is still a political underdog of Katsina state and has hardly tested the democratic dividends in the current political dispensation. In the last 25 years of democracy, Bindawa only secured one commissioner position of religious affairs, whose name was unceremoniously omitted after Governor Masari secured his second and final term of office in the 2019 elections. Only the emergence of Babba Kaita as a senator representing the Daura Zone made Bindawa begin to smell the dividends of democracy.

Senator Babba Kaita was always punctual and proactively pursued his legislative duties with a high sense of responsibility. He qualitatively contributed to the deliberation of several topical issues at the Red Chamber deliberations. However, his spectacular performance at the National Assembly is dwarfed by his extramural benevolent activities, which he was known and loved for. These activities touched and still touching the lives of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, in several human endeavors. Here, Babba Kaita is in the class of MKO Abiola, who lived and died serving God and humanity endlessly. In his illimitable efforts to put a smile on people, Babba Kaita is unparalleled to our modern-day politicians, who, more often than not, are benefactors of their people’s sufferings.

During his seven years as Senator of the Daura Senatorial Zone, Babba Kaita brought 54 capital projects and youth and women empowerment programs to Bindawa Local Government Areas alone. Thousands of people-centered projects, including constructing comprehensive health centers and maternal and neonatal clinics with complete equipment in seven local government areas and thousands of solar-motorized boreholes for domestic water supply, greatly benefited all twelve LGAs in the Daura Senatorial Zone. He provided scholarships to thousands of indigent students within and outside Nigeria to study in various undergraduate and postgraduate programs.

What is the business of a senator with state infrastructural development projects? Ideally, senators should focus on legislation and oversight functions. Still, in Nigeria, the local, state, and federal executives have woefully failed to provide basic infrastructure, social amenities, and human capacity development, which makes the legislative branch involved in capital project execution in the name of constituency projects. Constituency project allocation is the entry point of Babba Kaita’s massive project executions in his zone and beyond. Still, many senators have nothing to show for their constituency projects. Why is it so? Babba Kaita answered the question in his interview with Katsina Post; he said, “The constituency projects come through MDAs. For example, if one billion Naira worth of the project is allocated, the MDAs will ask the Senator how they want it executed. Several under-dealings occurred, reducing a one-billion-dollar Naira-worth project to N250 million or less, with the remaining money being shared between the parties (MDAs and interested parties). I challenge EFCC and ICPC to investigate all my constituency projects. I assure you they will not find a kobo missing; there has always been optimum value for money for all the projects I executed in my constituency.” However, Babba Kaita’s projects are beyond constituency projects; he uses personal resources to accomplish several others. What makes Babba Kaita different from other defeated politicians?

One year after Babba Kaita’s manipulated defeat as the Senator representing Daura Zone, he vigorously pursues his heartfelt vocation of positively touching people’s lives. He donated 500 tricycles and 3,000 motorcycles to youth and adults across the 12 LGAs under his zone for income generation and means of livelihood. Additionally, Senator Babba Kaita donated 100 fridges, 100 grinding machines, 100 tailoring machines, and 100 threading machines to women in the 12 LGAs in Daura Zone. Similarly, he also donated 20 concrete blocks-making machines to 20 people in each of the 12 LGAs under the zone. He also provided an N2,500,000 grant to 50 women at N50,000 per woman in each of the 12 LGAs under the Daura Zone. As the counting of Senator Babba Kaita’s humanitarian and philanthropic activities continues, we must ask, why can’t Nigerian politicians burrow leaf from this selfless, political octopus committed to serving humanity?

We need more Babba Kaitas in our political scenes to change the lousy narrative of our dear nation to a prosperous and glorious one. The electorates must wake up to discharge their responsibilities of electing visionary leaders with the country’s interest at heart, not greedy kleptomaniacs with their itching fingers, as most of today’s politicians are. Can we vote out these crummy politicians with their nepotic guiding principles? Building a virile and dynamic Nigeria requires the collective action of leaders and followers, not that of the occidental world and its cohorts.

Professor Othman is the Executive Director of National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS), ABU Zaria.

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