By Emmanuel Ado
Mala Buni, the governor of Yobe State, and Chairman of the All Progressives Congress Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee(CECPC), had stretched his luck too far, but it was only a matter of time before he lost out, like he eventually did.
While Buni got away with the constant postponement of the national convention, all in a bid to personally benefit from the political process, his actions almost impugned on the integrity of President Muhammadu Buhari. The president values his reputation, which in the first place boosted his election.
Buni’s strategy was to continuously postpone the convention, until he could combine it with the presidential primaries where the flag bearer of the party will emerge. His minimum demand was the vice-presidential ticket. Even when Buni and his co-travelers officially communicated the convention timetable to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as demanded by the law,the doubts persisted, because the various committees to midwife the convention, were never in place.
Buni, has shown himself a good student of former a former Nigerian President, who used subterfuge to continuously postpone his never ending political transition programme , until he was forced to conduct the presidential elections,which he eventually annulled.
Working with like minds such as Abubakar Malami, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Atiku Bagudu, the governor of Kebbi state, and Badaru the governor of Jigawa state, they had vigorously pushed for the return of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
But their political greed blinded them to the fact that it would have been difficult to market a man that was roundly defeated due to what the APC described as his cluelessness. But because they wanted a quick route to power, they kept pushing the return of Jonathan, with one of them scheming to become his running mate.
The reality of the Jonathan candidacy not flying forced them back to the drawing board and this gave birth to the possibility of a Rotimi Ameachi, presidency.
But unknown to Bugudu, Badaru and Malami, there was always an agenda within the agenda, woven by the largely underrated Mala Buni. To achieve his ambition, Buni courted first term governors, promising them automatic second term tickets. He equally went into an unholy alliance with Rotimi Ameachi, the powerful minister of transportation, who equally has presidential ambitions. The other members of his new group include Hope Uzodinma of Imo state, Yahaya Bello of Kogi state, and Dapo Abiodun of Ogun state. In politics, only interest matters, and Buni, personified that fact.
Buni is believed to have gotten away with his sabotage of the convention through the complicity of some presidential aides who kept misinforming the president about the true position of things.
When it became obvious that Mala Buni was leading the party towards destruction, the governors who, all along had indulged him, stepped in to salvage the situation. President Buhari after indicating that the national chairman should be zoned to the North-Central, had equally approved the proposed zoning of other party offices.
But Buni, using presidential aides, still got a different zoning of party positions signed by the president. He also did not represent the truth when he categorically told his colleague governors that the president had rezoned Deputy National Chairman (North) to the North- West. Buni also falsely claimed that the President had anointed persons for national; secretary and another position.
Buni was vehemently challenged by a governor who pointedly told him that the president, being a fair minded person, wouldn’t zone the deputy national chairman (North) to North- West which had held that same position for 8 years, in addition to the presidency.
President Buhari was aghast that Buni would misrepresent him to his colleagues and would personally disrespect him by postponing the 26 February convention without consulting or informing him. Despite the President’s forbearance in tolerating him while ensuring that the national convention proceeded with the zoning of officers agreed with the governors, it became clear that Buni had other plans. That included an injunction against the national convention procured since November 2021, a clear betrayal of the APC. The President was forced to act.
Were Muhammadu Buhari an Olusegun Obasanjo, Buni would have been impeached, while in Dubai.
The fall of Buni, though long expected, was almost thwarted by Abubakar Malami, the Attorney- General and Minister of Justice, who told Buhari, that only the National Executive Committee, had the powers to remove him. Malami, had helped keep Buni in office, even when the Supreme Court had hinted that a serving governor, holding an executive position, couldn’t equally hold the party chairmanship job.
The fear of the judiciary,which has problems with the party,is worrying to some party members, who fear that Buni would have led the party into a trap. In 2019, the APC,lost Zamfara state, to a judicial decision despite winning the elections there.
The President knew that Buni had lost the confidence of most of the governors. He acted to save the APC and threw out Buni and his sidekick John Akpanudoehehe,who had boasted that he would stay put as national secretary.
The APC, safely in the hands of true party members,has started taking reassuring steps- first state chairmen,who Buni,had bluntly refused to swear in as part of his plot,have been sworn in,the other processes are expected to be put in place,to ensure that the convention holds. The party,will certainly emerge stronger, from the experience.
•Emmanuel Ado contributed this piece from Kaduna