Mai Mala Buni, Nigerian’s indisputable political goldsmith, by Mamman Mohammed
For those familiar with his political antecedents, they never lost a sleep to political calculations and the chess game-like moves of Mai Mala Buni, Yobe state Governor and Chairman, Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He is always calm, calculating, patient, decisive and unperturbed. He takes decisions and strikes at the right time to succeed.
He was a local government councillor, and at different times state Chairman of different political parties, a Special Adviser on political Affairs to a Governor, a two time National Secretary of the ruling party and currently, Chairman Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning committee of APC. He is the serving Governor of Yobe state. He has had a taste of gruel prepared by both the opposition and the ruling parties. He therefore has the experience and expertise. And as the Englishman would say, “He knows where the corpse is.”
It is therefore not a mere coincidence when his colleagues, members of the National Executive Committee of the APC, in June 2020 unanimously nominated him as the Chairman of the party’s Caretaker Committee to salvage the party from an imminent collapse.
Governor Buni came with the philosophy of “True and Genuine Reconciliation’ of aggrieved stakeholders to reposition, revalidate and recover the party. He was meticulous in making the first move and got it right by visiting the Ila-Orangun country home of Chief Bisi Akande, a very strong founding member of the party. His visit to the Bourdilion home of Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu in Lagos was the icing on the cake. This earned the Caretaker committee wide acceptance and respect. Chief Akande, said he was optimistic that the Buni Committee would succeed “from what l am seeing of the Mai Mala Buni, the Chairman of the Committee, there is great hope in the future of the party”.
Buni’s wisdom in forming several committees, justifies his assertion that he is a team player. This gave stakeholders of the party a true sense of belonging and participation as well as ownership of the party and soon, there was a resurrection in the party.
Political analysts opined that the sudden change in style of leadership and administration of the party also gave critical stakeholders and party members a new sense of hope in the future of the party and their individual political aspirations. This attracted those who left and those planning to leave to cling onto the party and soon, the rejuvenation started yielding results.
Governor Buni’s humble approach to wide scale consultations and lending listening ears to everyone, came with the power of a magnet, attracting high profile politicians into the party. He made history by attracting three serving governors into the APC. First, it was the Ebonyi state Governor, Engr. Dave Umahi, then followed by Prof. Ben Ayade the Cross River State Governor and Bello Mutawalli of Zamfara state. This record is unprecedented in the political history of Nigeria.
The party under the leadership of Governor Buni, executed successful membership registration and revalidation exercise, a feat that was tried by the PDP as a ruling party in 2004 but was inconclusive. The exercise registered more than 41 million members which is capable of winning any election with huge victory.
The mobilization of youth and women by the Buni committee is undoubtedly another political rebirth in Nigeria. Two separate conferences were organised for youth and women which has reinvigorated their zeal, commitment and love to serve the party with full strength. Declaring the Progressives Youth Conference in Abuja, Governor Buni said “I am pleased that we have collectively rescued a factionalized party that was heading towards imminent collapse and disintegration, to a very strong, solid, reliable and ever growing political party.
“Let me specially recognise and appreciate the youth of our great party. You have throughout the turbulent times remained progressively united to the course of the party. The Caretaker/Extraordinary Committee had during the reconciliation process found the APC youth very cooperating to our collective approach to rebuilding the party. You are indeed great and we remain grateful.
“This also explains why the Caretaker Committee under my leadership took a deliberate position of engaging youth in every process. As part of our strategic approach to youth engagement, a committee on youth, women and people with special needs was constituted for the membership registration and revalidation exercise” he said.
Submitting his report to President Muhammadu Buhari last year, Buni said APC remains the party to beat in subsequent elections. “With your excellent leadership roles for the party, we are witnessing high powered defections including serving governors from PDP to our great party. It is also interesting that the fortune of the party in the last one year has greatly improved across the country and especially, in the Southeast which has been the stronghold of the opposition.
Buni noted that all issues and members were given a fair hearing, and an open door policy was created to accommodate all those that were aggrieved, leading to withdrawal of cases in court and peaceful settlements.
“The party is now more peaceful, orderly and accommodating than what we met on the ground.” Buni said.
The highly elated President Muhammadu Buhari commended the Buni committee for a good job saying, “APC has bounced back to life”.
As part of measures to strengthen internal dispute settlement mechanism, a national reconciliation committee under the leadership of Sen. Abdullahi Adamu, was constituted to hear all matters of dispute, settle such disputes to give everyone a sense of belonging and to avoid disenfranchisement. Although this has prolonged the conduct of the national convention but, it is better for the party to go to the convention with less challenges than approaching the convention with plethora of problems that can cause implosion. This wise decision was certainly in tandem with the maxim that “lt is better late than never”.
Now, with the February 26th dateline set for the party’s convention, Governor Mai Mala has indisputably led the party to the path of victory with very huge fortunes to step into the 2023 general election for a total success. The road to the party convention and subsequently the 2023 general election would need men of experience, foresight, and prudence to consolidate the gains achieved by the Buni committee for a successful outing in the forthcoming national convention and the 2023 general elections.
Mamman Mohammed is the Director-General Press and Media Affairs to Yobe Gov. Mai Mala Buni.