PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has commiserated with the Senate over the passage of their colleague and former Senate Chief Whip, Senator Mahmud Kanti Bello, 72.
The president’s condolence trailed messages of sympathy from the Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker of House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara, and the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.
Presidential spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, in a statement stated that President Buhari recalls that the late Bello was an outspoken and courageous patriot, who worked hard to ensure that all levels of government in the country were responsible and accountable.
Ekweremadu, who served with the late senator in the fifth and sixth Senate, expressed sadness over the death of Bello, describing it as a heavy loss to the entire nation.
The deputy senate president, said the Katsina-born senator was a “cosmopolitan and highly detribalised Nigerian, who worked tirelessly to help solve Nigeria’s leadership challenges.”
In a statement, Ekweremadu’s Special Adviser (Media), Uche Anichukwu stated: “Distinguished Senator Kanti Bello was an elder brother, neighbour, and a patriot in all ramifications. He was a politician, who commanded the respect of the high and mighty and the masses because of his integrity, patriotic zeal, astuteness, and development-driven kind of politics.
“He was a fearless politician, who never minced words in speaking his mind and the truth. And he was certainly a political machine whose reach stretched to every corner of the nation. He understood the nation’s political terrain like the back of his hand.
“I am most saddened that he departed at a time the nation needed patriots of his ilk most in order to arrest the widening divisiveness in the country and help build a nation of our dreams.”
Adesina noted further in his statement that, “the President believes that Bello’s effective representation of his people at the national level and commitment to the unity of Nigeria will be long remembered and honoured; and will continue to serve as inspiration to many others.
“President Buhari urges Bello’s family, friends and associates to honour his memory by continually upholding the values of honesty and accountability, which served as his reference point throughout his public service.”
A statement by Saraki’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, described the late Bello as legislator, who was guided by national interest and that of his community in his responsibilities.
Stated Saraki: “With the death of Bello, the Senate and indeed the National Assembly has lost a reliable adviser whose wise counsel on national issues was always being sought by both the leadership and individual senators.
“During his stay in the Senate, the late Bello was known for his forthrightness and courage in telling truth to those in power without attaching any partisan, religious or tribal sentiments.”
Dogara described the loss of the elder statesman as painful, and noted that “Bello was a grassroots politician who served the country meritoriously in many capacities. He left behind a legacy of patriotism and service.”
Senator Mahmud Kanti Bello
Bello, a former General Manager of Katsina Steel Rolling Mills for over 10 years was a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC). A two term senator, he represented Katsina North Senatorial District (2003 and 2011) under the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
A graduate of Engineering from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, he was several times a gubernatorial candidate under the defunct SDP, ANPP and APC.
Despite the kind words from Buhari, Bello incidentally had lost faith in the president’s ability to lead the nation. He had publicly expressed regret drafting President Buhari into politics.
He reportedly told an interviewer that “in Katsina, where I come from, people are finding it difficult to eat three times a day, not even two times.
“Things are difficult. The economy is so bad, whatever you are buying, and inflation has tripled. A bag of maize that used to sell at N4,000 when Buhari took over is now selling at N16,000 and at that price, people aren’t getting it to buy.
“Do we look at all these and continue to praise the government? No! Yes, we praise the government when it comes to Boko Haram, it has reduced its activities in the North-East and there is some stability in parts of the North with regards to the bombings.
“We aren’t safe, you cannot even travel from here to Kaduna without feeling that something can happen to you. You see, we have got rid of one evil and another has come in.
“All we are saying is that Buhari and his APC government hasn’t solved our problems. I am part of that government and I apologize to the masses that our economic policy is a failure.
“The economic policy of the government has failed the masses because I am part of the masses. People aren’t living well in this country. That’s the truth.
“Our factories, industries are dead, our people are poorer. Look at our economy, it has been so bad; the exchange rate, they say it has been improving. From N160 to a dollar, now it is N368 to a dollar. Is that an improvement? Two years ago, it was N160 to the dollar. Is that something to be proud of ?”