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A Gentleman Governor @ 56, by Mamman Mohammed

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A Gentleman Governor @ 56, by Mamman Mohammed

It is said if you want to test the true character of a man, give him power, wealth, and/or fame, and his true colour will be unveiled. Power, wealth, and fame are indeed the best variables that define the absolute, specific, and unambiguous character of a human being.

Endowed with power, wealth, and fame, he has remained accessible, available, open, and approachable. Neither power, wealth nor fame has changed his humble, decent, generous, courteous, and humane character. His growing age serves as a guide to shape his excellent character, tolerant leadership, and more attractive to the people.

Honourable Mai Mala Buni CON, the Executive Governor of Yobe State, former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, and a two-term former National Secretary of the ruling party is a humble leader with a magnetic character that defines simplicity, friendship, generosity, love, affection, value, dignity, integrity, and determination, has no doubt remained constant like the northern star, not changed by power or fame.

For those meeting him for the first time, they are never in a haste to leave, while those that meet him frequently, are already addicted to him and always hang on. He is as close and accessible to his childhood friends, as to all those he has met in the journey of his life.

Born 56 years ago in the historic town of Buni Gari, to a merchant father, Alhaji Bukar Buni, young Buni grew up in affluence, and was always surrounded by a group of friends who had virtually relocated to his room, 24/7. His childhood friends confessed that he was born generous and shares freely anything of his with friends.

His father traveled a lot, shuttling between Northern and Southern Nigeria in the 1970s and 80s doing business. A childhood friend of Buni confided that on each trip, Buni receives a new set of clothes from his father who spent lavishly on his son. Perhaps, this explains his sense of dress code and style. Governor Buni remains a role model of dressing for many others.

As a young lad in Secondary school, his wardrobe was always wide open for friends to wear what fit them. “We, sometimes as friends, use his new clothes bought by his father from a business trip before he (Mai Mala Buni) used the clothes himself, and neither he nor the dad would complain as to why using the new clothes before him,” the friend said.

His kind and warm heart continued to endear him close to his family, friends, and the public. Buni remained a role model of sacrifice and a reference point for peace and peaceful coexistence. Young in age, and full of wisdom, Buni set an unprecedented and unbreakable record, uniting his siblings, uncles, and other family members after the death of his father.

As it is with the Islamic tradition, the properties of deceased persons are shared among specific persons prescribed in the Holy Quran, either by Islamic clerics at home or by Judges in the Sharia courts. Young Buni at the court, publicly announced that he had forfeited his share of the inheritance and should be added to that of his siblings. His share of the inheritance was shared according to his wish among his siblings. Everyone, including the judge, was surprised and prayed for him.

Today, Governor Buni shares freely whatever he has with those around him and anyone who runs into him. Long before his election into office as the Governor of Yobe State, Governor Buni introduced the distribution of palliative to less privileged persons. He shared money to aged persons, widows, orphans, traders like Bean ‘akara’ cake sellers, truck pushers, vulcanizers, and ‘Mai Shayi’ Tea sellers.

His large heart for sharing what he has always stood him out differently. In his words “What is the essence of having wealth if l can not share it to put a smile on the faces of others?” He believed the joy of having is in giving, to making a difference in the lives of others. His generosity knows no bounds.

The journey of His Excellency into politics started at a very early age as a Local Government Councillor representing Buni Gari ward in Gujba local government on the platform of the defunct National Republic Convention (NRC). Though a first-timer, Buni was elected leader (Speaker) of the council, with eight councillors on his side against the council chairman who was elected with two other councillors on the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP). It was a democracy in action baptizing him for future political offices and challenges.

At different times, Buni was elected as Chairman of opposition parties. He made democracy competitive and progressive in Yobe State. The opposition under his watch made the sitting governments serve the people meritoriously and was eventually elected as state Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC).

The opposition parties under the leadership of Buni as IPAC chairman redefined opposition in politics by propelling the government to work harder. And when in 2009, Buni defected to the then-ruling All Nigeria Peoples Party, he changed the fortunes of the party in Yobe State. His appointment as Special Adviser to the erstwhile government of Senator Ibrahim Gaidam between 2011 to 2013 added tremendous value to both the government and the ruling party in the state.

It was obvious that the defection of Honourable Mai Mala Buni to ANPP marked the end of opposition in Yobe State, and the state practically became a one-party state. Politicians referred to him as a political ‘Nostradamus’ who moved from the opposition political party to the ruling party, and so, ANPP recorded massive entrance ever witnessed in the state. And soon, the idea of a merger of the five Mega opposition parties to form the All Progressive Congress (APC), emerged. Buni was indeed an active member in the merger negotiations. He was eventually elected as the pioneer APC state chairman in Yobe State. His emergence as state chairman further solidified APC in Yobe State, leaving a very lame opposition, whose presence was only on paper.

13th, June 2014, was a date with history for Governor Buni. He was elected as the first substantive National Secretary of the All Progressives Congress under the Chief John Oyegun-led National Working Committee. After serving four years, Buni was re-elected as national secretary again to serve for a second term.

It was under the Oyegun-led National Working Committee, in which Buni was the secretary, that Nigeria politics made the history of a new opposition party (APC) defeating a 16-year-old ruling national party (PDP) and Muhammadu Buhari, who became Nigeria’s President. To date, this remains a major record in the annals of Nigeria’s political history.

READ ALSO: The unheralded achievements of Governor Buni-led administration, by Yusuf Ali

A few months into his second term as National Secretary of the party, destiny beckoned on Buni again. He was nominated to run for the 2019 governorship of Yobe State. It was another historic and unprecedented election, and he emerged with a landslide victory. For the very first time, the opposition parties that participated in the election declared not to challenge Buni’s election in any court of law. In fact, they made their position loud and clear, “We are not going to any court over this election” and Yobe truly became one united family under Mai Mala Buni.

Barely 20 months in office, the National Executive Committee of the All Progressives Congress dissolved the Adams Oshiomoleh-led NWC. Former President Muhammadu Buhari and the state governors, forming the National Executive Committee, unanimously appointed Governor Buni as the Chairman Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee. All hopes and expectations of the President and entire members of the party to save and bring the party back to life rested squarely on the shoulders of Buni and members of the Convention Planning Committee.

When the committee commenced work, Buni, the political maverick did not disappoint anyone as he engaged aggrieved members into genuine reconciliation, and those who left the party returned back, while those contemplating to leave the party never left again. The Buni committee succeeded in bringing in three serving state governors: namely Professor Ben Ayade of Cross River State, Engineer Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, and Alhaji Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party to the APC.

The party under the leadership of Governor Buni procured a permanent National Secretariat for the party and named it BUHARI HOUSE after the former President, making APC the only national party with a permanent Secretariat in Nigeria. That was not enough. Governor Buni conducted a membership registration exercise for the party, where existing members updated their membership, while new entrants registered as members, and over 42 million members were captured in the first phase of the registration exercise. This gave the party the opportunity to make adequate planning and preparations for national events, especially the 2023 national election. This exercise has no doubt contributed immensely to the victory of the party in the 2023 general election.

Former President Buhari in his testimony at the peaceful and successful convention said “I am glad the Party under the Caretaker Committee has bounced back to life with the reconciliation of several key and critical stakeholders and groups, who had hitherto left the party or were on the verge of leaving the Party. The reconciliation process gave the aggrieved stakeholders a true sense of belonging and assurance”.

He added, “It is gratifying that the Party recorded massive and unprecedented defections under the Caretaker Committee administration. APC received three sitting Governors, a Deputy Governor, Senators, Members of the House of Representatives and State Assemblies, and other key officials from opposition parties who defected along with Millions of their supporters”.

Buhari further said “I am impressed to learn that the membership registration and revalidation exercise undertaken by the Caretaker Committee, has recorded over 41.5 million members. This has proved that we are indeed Nigeria’s leading and largest political party. It also exhibits our numerical strength and the potential to win elections at all given times fairly and squarely”.

He added that “the successful conduct of the Ward, Local, and State Congresses, the purchase of the National Secretariat which was graciously named after me, and the review of the constitution among others, are no doubt tremendous achievements recorded by the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC).

“This Convention is coming at a crucial time when we prepare for another round of a general election. Therefore, the need to remain strong and united for the Party to exploit the rich abundant potential at its disposal cannot be overemphasized. We appreciate the right to hold different opinions and aspirations, however, such differences must not be to the detriment of the party” he warned.

After the party’s convention, Governor Buni received a heroic welcome from the good people of Yobe State when he arrived at the state in the company of the Deputy Governor of Borno State, His Excellency, Alhaji Umar Usman Kadafur and other prominent politicians from the Northeast, and across the country. The August 27 Stadium, Damaturu was full beyond its capacity by a mammoth crowd singing and dancing to welcome their hero. Speakers upon speakers eulogized Governor Buni for doing the state, the Northeast, Nigeria, and indeed the APC proud.

Back home and concentrating on the governance of the state, Governor Buni continued with the development agenda of his administration, making tremendous progress in education, healthcare delivery, infrastructural development, wealth creation, and poverty eradication to improve the lives of the people of Yobe State.

As the saying goes, the greatest weapon for a man is a kind and warm heart. Governor Mai Mala Buni’s kind, warm, and generous heart, has made him attractive and strong to conquer his adversaries who are left with no option but to identify with his humble, humane, and generous character.

With his accommodating character, he is always first to extend his warm hands to shake anyone, to him, “l do not consider anyone as my enemy if you can produce one that l have ever said is my enemy, l have a gift for you” he always throws the challenge.

Your Excellency, May you live long, and may Allah (SWT) grant you many more years in good health, increased strength, and wisdom to continue serving Yobe State, Nigeria, and humanity. Amin.

Happy Birthday sir.

Mamman Mohammed is the Director-General, Press and Media Affairs to Governor Buni.

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