A GOVERNOR ON SPECIAL MISSION

In addition to kicking off multiple developmental projects in his state, under immense security challenges, Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni wins President Buhari’s confidence and kicks off his new assignment of intra-party crisis management and setting up of a new structure of administration in the ruling All Progressives Party.

By OSCAR NWOGU

As a grassroots politician and top rate administrator, Mai Bala Buni, former National Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and incumbent Governor of Yobe State has long earned for himself, admiration of President Muhammadu Buhari.  His score card in party administration, tallied with the strives he has made so far as Governor within the short space of time he has been in the saddle,  is widely believed to be the reason he  has been called upon again to rebuild the party. Buni, Buhari’s point man is soaring higher in reputation

Governor Mai Mala Buni came into office in 2019 as clearly the choice of Yobe people with overwhelming result of 444,013 votes against his main challenger, Alhaji Iliya of PDP who polled 95,703 votes.

As governor, Mai Mala Buni hit the ground running, approving the payment of N220.7 Million as pension to retirees in the 17 local government areas of the state.

The governor, who anchored his administration on continuity, consolidation and innovation, following the high standards set by his predecessor, Alhaji Gaidam, who ruled Yobe State for 10 years, has in the last one year worked tenaciously to ensure there is an improvement in the living condition of the average Yobe Man and woman.

No doubt, Yobe can take pride in what Mai Mala Buni and his team have achieved so far. The education sector remains one of the greatest beneficiaries of Gov. Mai Buni’s magic with new investment in the primary and secondary education sector; including six new mega primary schools across the state. The primary health care sector is not left out of the sweet breeze blowing across Yobe State. The sector is currently undergoing massive restructuring with over N7 billion in new investments.

Among the achievements of Buni in his first year in office in Yobe State is completion of the Kabo Airport in Damaturu, which is ready for commission by Mr. President by the end of July this year. The governor has not shirked his responsibility to provide shelter for his people through the construction of over 3600 mass Housing projects, financed by Family Home Funds Limited across the State.

Construction of roads in Buni Yadi Babbangida, Damagum and Jajimaji towns and support for farmers engaged in rural and subsistence Agriculture which is the main stay of the state’s economy remains part of Governor Mai Buni’s achievement. The Governor, who Lanre Asiwaju, an APC Chieftain in Abuja described as a go-getter did not stop there, he distributers fertilizers and procured tractors and other farming implements at affordable prices to the farmers.

Governor Mai Buni, a friend and benefactor of the youths and women have not left out this important constituency in the distribution of democratic dividends as he has put measures on place to ensure that they go through various skills acquisition and empowerment trainings across the State.

Asiwaju who has known the governor for many years, stated further, that each of the 178 wards in Yobe State has benefitted from the governors’ magnanimity, good governance and democratic dividends. This claim was corroborated by Abdullahi Bego, Commissioner of Information, Home Affairs and Culture.

Governor Buni has seen to the construction of the modern trailer park in Potiskum and mechanic village which provides direct employment to 5000 artisan and Damaturu’s first modern market. This development the deputy governor Alhaji Idi Gubana says are part of the major achievements of the Buni administration.

Governor Buni also resuscitated the Potiskum Aluminium and floor/feed mills company as well as the construction of 3600 Housing Units financed by Family Homes funds Ltd across Yobe State. The Housing projects was to give succor to many Yobe citizens who were victims of the Boko Haram insurgency that has ravaged the state for some time now.

It is interesting to note that governor Governor Buni made these numerous achievements and others despite the Boko Haram insurgency ravaging the State and the corona virus pandemic which has brought economic activities across the world to near comatose.

Abdullahi Bego, Yobe State Commissioner of Information, Home Affairs and Culture, described the governor as “a man of honour”, an asset to the people of Yobe State and a great gift from Allah”. Bego also sees the Governor as a benchmark for promoting party cohesion, understanding, co-operations, tolerance and accommodation of diverse views and opinion as he leads the party as Acting National Chairman.

The post of Acting National Chairman of APC did not come on a platter of gold.  Governor Buni enjoys the president’s listening ear and could easily pass as one of his confidants. Mai Mala Buni was not identified with any of the factions that were struggling for the soul of the party, forcing it into one crisis after the other.

His antecedent and anti- corruption stance and knowledge of the party, being a two time National Secretary is widely believed to be part of the reasons the President nominated him as Acting National Chairman.

Since his appointment as Acting National Chairman of APC was made public, Governor Buni has hit the ground running. He is bent on fulfilling part of his mandate which is to reconcile aggrieved parties in the Party.

He started his reconciliation moves by visiting the National leader of the Party, Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, at his Lagos Country home a few days ago.  He was well received and Tinubu promised to give him and his team maximum support.

Lanre Asiwaju, an APC stalwart in the FCT believes that Buni’s record speaks volume of the man. He told Verbatim, in an interview, that the Governor is the best man to save APC from where Adams Oshiomhole and the likes have plunged the party.

Asiwaju says that right from the time Mai Mala Buni was the National Secretary of APC, he has been a stabilizing factor of the party even before he became governor. On whether Buni can paddle the ship of the party without wrecking it, Asiwaju said that the choice of the governor as Acting Chairman is a right call this moment. “He knows the party, he was two-term national secretary. He was the engine room of the party, he has been a grassroots politician and he was the state chairman of APC in Yobe State. Coming forward, as the governor of Yobe State and Acting National Chairman of APC, the party cannot ask for the more,” he positioned.

On calls from the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan and others, for Governor Buni to resign his position as governor because they said holding two offices at the same time has breached the APC constitution, Asiwaju said that the line of argument does not hold water. “There is a huge difference between governance and party activities.  I can tell you that Governor Buni’s appointment cannot affect governance in Nigeria today. If there is any state where the governor and his deputy work as a team, it is Yobe”, Asiwaju said.

He stressed further that Governor Buni has a Deputy Governor who is capable and works with him like twin brother. “There is no cause for any call for his resignation. Those who are making such calls, we know where they are coming from,” he said.

On why he thinks the President asked him to step in and save the party from total collapse, Asiwaju said, “Mai Mala Buni is a grassroots politician. He was not brought from obscurity, he has been with his people from his ward in Buni Yadi local government for over three decades and he started at a very young age. And he enjoys a lot of confidence from the people of the North East, especially Yobe State.

Idi Barde Gubana, Deputy governor of Yobe State also believes that calls for Mai Mala Buni to resign his position as governor is unfortunate. He explained that Buni’s appointment as Acting Party Chairman would not affect governance in the state. He noted that it is not unusual for parties to appoint a member to head the party at any time of need, pointing the case of Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, then Governor of Sokoto State, who was appointed by the PDP to lead the party at one time, as example.

He believes his boss, the governor, will succeed in his new task. He gave reasons:  “His Excellency is a manager of crisis, even at the grassroots level when he was chairman; he ensured that political wrangling was reduced to the barest minimum and that there is synergy among all party leaders in the state”.

Comparing Oshiomhole and Mai Mala Buni, Asiwaju says the former chairman believes in jack booth, garrison kind of politics as different from governor Buni who is a complete gentleman and team player. He does not belong to any tendencies that threatened to tear the party apart. “He is highly educated, politically sophisticated, a grass-rooted politician and a team player, a man who sets goals and goes ahead to achieve those goals. His eyes are always on the ball”. The former chairman, he continued, does not believe in the people. He believes that he is the party, so whatever interest he has become the party’s interest.

But Mai Mala Buni being a team player, the party interest is his interest”. He regretted that the crisis was made to fester because the former National Chairman of the party belonged to one of those tendencies. To show the seriousness of the assignment, Gov. Buni has already set up reconciliation committees for Edo and Ondo States headed by former Senate President Ken Nnamani and Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State respectively.

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