By Akano Tirimisiy
When Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni, was appointed as the chairman, Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee of the All Progressives Congress, APC, there were questions as to how a sitting governor will combine running a state and the party.
But today, Buni has proved cynics wrong as he combined both duties effectively joggling from attending to files, government officials and politicians alike.
The long hours Governor Mai Mala Buni devotes to work, giving his personal welfare less time at a time became a matter of concern to his staff until they keyed into his style and got used to his momentum.
They found out soon enough that they needed to shake off their usual government work-style lethargy to catch up with the governor’s business-like approach to tasks. Today, Buni has received endorsements, awards and vote of confidence from the people of the state and non-governmental organisations for executing people-oriented projects in education, healthcare delivery, agriculture, housing, road construction and economic recovery, among others. These projects and policies have a direct bearing on the lives of the people.
Similarly, the budget discipline and implementation adopted by the Buni administration has earned the state the award of the second-best state in Nigeria in Capital Budget Expenditure performance by BudgIT, a civil society organisation that focuses on budget monitoring in Nigeria.
Buni has, with passion and empathy, worked on result-oriented programmes to improve the standard and quality of education in the state through his famous declaration of emergency on education. He started the new advancement for education with the first-ever education summit in the state by assembling seasoned educationists under a committee headed by a suitably groomed scholar and education administrator, Prof. Malah Daura, the former Vice-Chancellor University of Maiduguri and current Vice-Chancellor Yobe State University, to chart a more rewarding course for the sector.
The recommendations by the committee on the provision of adequate and appropriate infrastructure and instructional materials, qualified teachers, and other necessary incentives to propel the development of education in the state was matched with a strong political will and adequate financing by the Buni administration.
In no distant time, the results started manifesting with an unprecedented performance by Yobe students in the West African Examination Council (WAEC). For the first time, the state set a record: 725 candidates passed WAEC with distinctions and credits in all the nine subjects; 2,530 candidates passed with distinctions and five credits and above, including mathematics and English; 8,042 candidates passed with credits and passes in English, while 7,008 others passed with credits and passes in Mathematics.
At the inception of his administration, Governor Buni pledged to establish a functional primary healthcare facility in each of the 178 political wards in the state. Two years after, 94 of the 178 had been completed, equipped and provided with manpower.
The administration also upgraded four comprehensive health centres to General Hospitals, and four General Hospitals to Specialists Hospitals while the state’s Teaching Hospital was provided with state-of-the-art equipment.
His policy of division of labour and teamwork, both in governance and politics, made the work much easier and successful. In the governance of the state, Governor Buni gave his appointees, especially the commissioners, the free hand to operate and contribute their skills, training and experience to the development of the state.
Similarly, on the political scene, Governor Buni constituted various committees to handle various assignments irrespective of local factional politics of who belongs to what team in the state chapters. He is convinced that fairness and accommodation of all members will promote unity and cohesion within the party, and that is undoubtedly a winning approach: everyone feels a sense of belonging.
On the political front, the political-cum-architectural wizardry of Governor Buni in re-arranging the blocks that built APC within such a short period, which saved the party from anarchy, disintegration and what seemed like an imminent extinction, was quite miraculous and heartwarming for all lovers of democracy and, in particular, members of APC.
Little wonder President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, on behalf of the National Executive Committee last year eulogised Governor Buni for the success in repositioning the party. The President said, “I am pleased with the chairman (Governor Mai Mala Buni) and the work of the committee. He is highly mobile in the efforts to coordinate and strengthen the party. I am happy with his efforts.”
The vote of confidence by President Buhari was reaffirmed by the APC Caretaker Committee of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory who were also effusive in expressing confidence in the Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary convention planning committee.
The Non-National Working Committee members of the National Executive Committee was not left out; they also identified with the position of Mr President and the 36 state chairmen of the party, saying their position was borne out of “our collective desire for a more viable and prosperous APC.
“We wish to reaffirm our confidence in your ability to contribute meaningfully in salvaging our beloved party and returning it to the fast lane of electoral victories.”
And now, the vote of confidence passed by his colleagues in the Progressives Governors Forum for outstanding performance in providing excellent leadership to the party at the most challenging times has further stamped the authority that the Buni Caretaker has achieved the set goal.
These endorsements and confidence votes are justified by the normalcy that has returned to the party through genuine reconciliation and giving ownership of the party to the members through the bottom-up approach he and his team adopted towards entrenching viable and sustainable internal democracy in the party.