TRIBUTE: Time is waiting for Betara to take his baton – by Abubakar H. Muhammad

Hon Muktar Aliyu Betara
Hon Muktar Aliyu Betara
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With the slow but timely fading away of a generation of political front runners in southern Borno State, new forces are taking over the political steering wheel, and that, they are doing with turbo acceleration.

In Biu local government, one of the hot-bed of the region’s politicking, this new generation is undoubtedly occupied by young vibrant folks, who from all indications, deliberately or not, will stop at nothing in making their presence and impact felt in the overall political discussion in the state.

Even though I was born and brought up in Maiduguri, I am by origin from Biu. But I am not so familiar with its politics, especially at the very local level.

However, because of my original connection to it, I am interested in any conversation I come across about it.

Except for Alh. Umar Usman Kadafur, Borno’s deputy governor, and Aliyu Mamman Kachalla, aka Opanka, the PDP candidate for house of assembly member representing Biu in the recently conducted election, and few others, the most familiar political brand in the whole region is Muktar Aliyu Betara, the house of representative member, representing Biu, Bayo, Shani and Kwaya Kusar federal constituency.

Hon Muktar Aliyu Betara, the House of Representative member, representing Biu, Bayo, Shani and Kwaya Kusar federal constituency
Hon Muktar Aliyu Betara, the House of Representative member, representing Biu, Bayo, Shani and Kwaya Kusar federal constituency

As for Opanka, I knew him through an acquaintance who married his younger sister; why it is only natural one should know the deputy governor of his state, but when it is Betara, you must know him outside of all these because of overwhelming, all-embracing futuristic generosity and interventions in the lives of the people of the region and even beyond.

You would often hear ‘Betara has transformed Biu into a modern city’ which he truly did but in a fashion as if to say through his private resources. The most extreme of them were those who say they are in no need of Maiduguri because they have Biu, thanks, they would want to say to Betara.

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Well, this is not surprising as he is responsible for the construction of 20 healthcare centres, ambulances and the installation of more than 600 solar-powered street lights among other things in his constituency.

This has made him a major and necessary subject in the discos of Borno politics.

He is a power broker in his own right. Now beyond Biu and Southern Borno, no political argument, especially in Maiduguri and its environs is complete without the mention of the lawmaker, and comparing him with other politicians seemed even a no-go area.

In the capital city today, everyone is eager to move a cheekbone whenever his name is whispered, and I am yet, God-for-bid, to sniff bad energy around it as if to suggest that the ‘Betara they know’ has no enemies or political rivals.

My first and closest encounter with him was in October 2022 in Abuja, at the dinner organized to honour Borno awardees who were conferred with national honours by President Muhammadu Buhari, with him included.

A natural crowd puller, his presence was soon felt immediately he stepped into the hall.

The respect and love people have for him made him the centre of attention, with everyone struggling to register their congratulations to him.

An opportunity was missed when we couldn’t interview him because of the crowd.

Secondly, myself and my colleague, Yunusa Bunu, gatecrashed into his entourage at the national assembly building after a plenary session, just a few days after the first incident. Due to his heavy security and entourage, including some of his colleagues, one would easily mistake him for the speaker of the house.

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We were overwhelmed by their presence that even the naturally officious Yunusa couldn’t attempt to penetrate the heavy crowd. It was such a grand appearance.

Therefore, the Betara I know is an image of greatness, too much of a muchness.

As a politician, his close associate would tell you that he is always concerned about his service to the people rather than for himself and is not so much of a popularity scavenger. This is so much true as he doesn’t have social media touts and town criers like most politicians because his integrity and gentle posture would not allow him to stoop so low as to recruit some.

Also, unlike typical Nigerian politicians serving at the national level, Betara does not patronize city glamour and its paparazzi. He is either at work or whenever he visits his state, officially or otherwise, observers say that he hardly even spends the night at Maiduguri but proceeds directly to his home town to romance his people’s company.

The level of his acceptance by his people and observers around can only be understood through his unmatched generosity, a virtue many believe is his selling point and second to none among his circle. It has sometimes portrayed him as a multi-billionaire, whether he is or not, actually doesn’t matter.

Even with that, he is never seen flaunting it on people’s face or irresponsibly advertising it for public consumption and cheap commendations, he just does what he does.

And as a leader, the former high school head boy at Benishiek is a natural leader. His people would attest to his humility in engaging with the masses and his listening ears; which perhaps he may have imbibed when he worked at Nigerian Telecommunication Limited (NITEL).

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As a public servant, his activities in several house committees, particularly the appropriations and defence committees, have earned him remarkable national recognition, a feat which fetched him a national honours award and made him an unmatchable contender for the speakership of the 10th assembly.

In 16 years, he has served in about seven top committees and his successes in the current appropriation committee led to the successful enactment of the Appropriation Act, of 2022 and the Finance Act, of 2021.

By all standards, I believe the top-notch crisis manager, Betara, now going in for his fifth tenure, deserves any position at the national assembly because he is not only competent but has paid his dues.

With all the endorsements coming from right-left and centre, and if faith has it his way, the green chamber will in the future, look back and be proudly glad for making that choice.

Abubakar H. Muhammad, a journalist from the northeast region writes from Abuja.

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