The Oasis Reporters
December 7, 2018
It must have come to Senator Joshua Lidani as a jolt that he should lose the People’s Democratic Party, PDP Senatorial primary election in a safe district for one, a ranking Senator, and secondly, in a predominantly Christian belt in the only PDP oasis in the APC dominated North East region of Nigeria.
What heightened the shock and made it stunning is that Gombe South Senator, Joshua Lidani, lost to a woman. A younger Muslim woman for that matter, in a predominantly Christian belt.
After the shock came the anger and frustration, so the Senator stormed out of the PDP and crossed over to the All Progressive Congress, APC.
It can be revealed with authority, that Hon.Binta Bello is not one’s ordinary run of the mill politician, and she’s not called an Amazon for nothing.
As the Deputy Minority Whip in the House of Representatives and the only female in the line-up of principal officers of the eighth assembly, Hon. Binta Bello represents Kaltungo/Shongom federal constituency of Gombe State.
She is described as pleasant and soft-spoken and a good debater, believing that politics is about service to humanity. Long before she joined politics Hon. Binta was already well known for her philanthropic activities in her Shongom Local Government Area of Gombe State. In fact, it was her philanthropy that motivated her entry into politics.
She once told a national newspaper that while growing up, she always wanted to do something for her community.
“And so when I started working with a Chinese company in Maiduguri, I decided to renovate some blocks in the secondary school I attended. But my father discouraged me and suggested I build one new block of classrooms and a staff room. After building it, I also equipped it with furniture,” Bello says.
That gesture caught the attention of the government. One thing led to the other, and she joined the PDP, eventually serving as commissioner from 2007 to 2010, before she was advised to contest as a member of the House of Representatives. That was the beginning of her journey to the federal legislature.
Even when the Buhari gale swept through the North, she resisted the fad to join the
All Progressives Congress despite the predilection of her mentor, former governor Danjuma Goje.
She says, “I come from a difficult area, and they believe in the PDP. My people assured me they would give me the votes for a second term, unless I had a particular reason for wanting to leave the party. So I stayed in the PDP and was re-elected by my constituency .”
She saw the lethargy and smugness in the Senatorial representation of her zone. She knew it was time to move up to the Senatorial contest, armed with the knowledge that the ethnically, linguistically and culturally diverse people of Gombe South who can be said to be predominantly Christian by religion, play only the politics of merit and unity, with the aim of attracting development to the district. Having proven herself as a philanthropist in the area even when her earnings were meagre as a factory worker, the Christians rallied round her, to get her to the House of Representatives.
When the same people beckoned on her to make a push for the Senatorial ticket, it was the elixir that she needed.
The question is, why did the predominantly Christian district of Gombe South turn their backs on one of their own, Senator Joshua Lidani to beckon on the young Muslim woman, Hon. Binta Bello?
A respondent from the area told The Oasis Reporters that Senator Joshua Lidani’s contributions to the district were paltry.
“He was beginning to get out of touch with the people, and was often contemptuous of the very people that stuck with him as one time deputy governor under Governor Abubakar Habu Hashidu from 1999 to 2003, then Senator, etc. Even getting him to contribute to religious buildings fund or other events for the welfare of the area was getting difficult. Unlike Binta Bello, who is also a daughter of Gombe South. Senator Joshua Lidani just took us for granted, believing that we would always vote for him on religious grounds. This time, we say ‘no’.
He simply became smug and lost his touch”.
Bello is one of the eight federal lawmakers elected on the platform of the PDP from the North-east.
She was born in Delta State to a military father and started her education in Ondo State. Her family moved around the country often, before returning to Gombe following her father’s retirement from the Nigerian Army. She is happily married with children.
To her, “politics is about providing service, showing care and relating with the people at the grassroots,” Bello says.