When I wrote on Governor Mai Mala Buni’s uncommon qualities of being a bridge-builder, astute administrator, and a consummate politician, who has the exceptional ability to reach out and bring the warring factions of the All Progressives Congress (APC) together, many did not believe me.
Similarly, when I commented on the ‘innovation’ he brought to governance in Yobe, some accused me of being an Abuja writer meaning I am not in touch with what is going on in my home state.
Others were uncomfortable whether I have succumbed to the temptations of time by joining the bandwagon of brown envelop journalists. Those that were polite and wanted to play politics pejoratively said I have committed a class suicide.
The assumption was I am Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) because I served as a special assistant to Adamu Maina Waziri on the two occasions he was appointed by the PDP government as a Minister. Yes, I am very proud to serve him in that capacity because during the tortious period we worked for the country, he encouraged me to be fearless and to speak the truth even when I felt he would be uncomfortable with the truth.
You may hate him for anything but not for dishonesty or shying away from speaking the truth no matter who is involved. My association with him shaped my worldview. As a journalist and public affairs commentator my goal is to speak the truth to power, a habit I picked from my political mentor.
The uncommon disposition that attracted me to Buni was his cool temperament, sense of purpose, forward-looking, respect for others, and uncommon ability to bring people together. I saw this much early in him when we were learning the rudiments and art of politics.
What many didn’t know Buni was a PDP man before he opted out of the party very early. The gentleman used his humble background and strategically walked his way to the top hierarchy of APC without much prodding by godfatherism. A very uncommon achievement in Nigerian politics. A feat he achieved through patience, loyalty, dedication, and unassuming personality.
When I wrote the article, ‘is the ‘innovation’ working for Yobe?’. In it, I highlighted some of the innovations Buni has introduced to move the state forward. Mainly, I spoke about how he was able to break from the old thinking of development pursued by past administrations that were generally concentrated in the state capital. He introduced some innovations in sharing amenities across the state thereby touching the lives of every segment of the population.
The article also x-rayed some of the programmes he unfolded to move the state forward. Of strategic concern was the construction of the ultra-modern market in Damaturu the only state capital in the country that does not have a regular market 27 years since its creation, other urban settlements that benefited from this strategic project include Gashua, Potiskum Nguru, and Gaidam.
The declaration of emergency on education, the construction of urban and rural roads, hospitals, and upgrading of some health centres. The revitalization of some dormant major state enterprises that have the capacity of improving the state internal generations of revenue (IGR), the blending of the state machinery with youth to bridge the gap between the old school and his contemporaries without rocking the boat was exemplary and amazing. An example of this is the wonderful work being done by the Executive Secretary of SEMA and the Ministry of Humanitarian affairs.
These are some of the things I wrote in those articles, I was called all sorts of names by some groups who wanted to politicize the matter.
Happily, events in the recent past in Yobe have vindicated my optimism in the ability of Buni A few weeks ago in fulfillment of his promise on the declaration of emergency on education, Buni approved all the recommendations submitted by the committee, not only that to demonstrate his commitment to the program, the state secured admissions and awarded a scholarship to 308 students to study in the Glocal University, India.
The students were screened and drawn from the 17 local government areas of the state on merit irrespective of their parent’s political persuasion They have since left for India and are now pursuing their academic programs.
On the domestic front over 5000 scholarships were awarded to qualified students to pursue their studies in various Nigerian Universities.
Other issues I raised in the article were the 4 mega schools created to prepare students for higher education.
The article also suggested the state should complete the cargo airport and understudy Akwa Ibom Air to make the airport functional to support the cargo operations. The airport if handled properly can also become the hub and destination for international air travellers from neighbouring countries of Niger, Cameroon, and Chad.
Since the last, I wrote on these projects contracts have been awarded works are ongoing at various stages of completion.
Lest I forget to mention the commendable job Buni has done in bringing the warring party members of the APC together. The dust arising from the post-election defeats in certain areas that consumed the entire National Executive of the party has been laid to rest. The party is now cohesive and purposeful.
His Excellency has also successfully conducted the update of the party membership register with ease and less rancour. Wowed sitting PDP governor and many party stalwarts, a situation that jilted the PDP to belatedly raise a similar committee led by the former Senate President Bukola Saraki, which many party members felt was a wrong choice.
Saraki has not hidden his desire to contest for the PDP presidential ticket. Some also felt Kwara was a huge example of PDP failure in the 2019 elections why should it be rewarded.
The party ought to have done some soul searching just like the APC, NCWC did by inviting Buni a former National Secretary of the party in spite of heavy responsibility as a state chief executive to act as the interim chairman of the party and prepare it for the national convention a job HE has done creditably well so far.
He has shamed those who opposed the decision to bring him on board, by now they must shivering in their chairs and buried their heads in the sand.
Just like the doubting “Thomases” in Yobe who called me names for sharing my opinion about the capacity of Buni, his success story in turning the fortunes of the state so far must have left them biting their fingernails in the light of the progress taking place.
My prayers going forward is for His Excellency to be resolute, continue with the good work and never waiver or allow praise singers and armchair critics to derail him from the laudable developmental programs so far achieved.
Dr Ibrahim Yabani was the pioneer General Manager of Yobe Television and retired as a Director in the federal civil service.