By Saleh Babagana
The most-awaited convention of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) has come and gone. Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State took over the mantle of leadership of the APC in June 2020 as Chairman Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) with a core mandate to achieve peace-building, true reconciliation, and to give a sense of belonging to every member of the Party to enable the conduct of a rancour-free convention wherein a new set of national officers for the Party would be elected.
Buni assumes the Party’s leadership at a time the APC was not having it easy at all. Series of political turmoil were billowing in almost all the 36 states and the FCT chapters of the Party. The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Party had to dissolve the Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) and constituted the Buni-led CECPC when it appeared the Party had been embroiled in certain controversies over leadership between the then suspended National Chairman Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the then Party’s Deputy National Chairman (South), Senator Abiola Ajimobi (late), and the then Deputy National Secretary Mr. Victor Giadom.
At the moment, there were feelers that the then suspended Oshiomhole had narrowed the Party to himself, sidelined the NEC and committed several infractions. In essence, the Buni-led CECPC was constituted with clear terms of reference, to eradicate lines of division within the Party to enable it to conduct a rancour-free national convention.
Buni had led the APC between June 2020 and March 2022 when he handed over to the newly elected Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led NWC. In between, Buni proved himself a peacemaker and a stabilizing voice. He had met virtually all leaders, known Party groups and interests with a view to accommodate and harmonized all interests, which in turn resulted in renewed commitment on the part of Party members.
The consultative leadership style instituted by Governor Buni had undoubtedly helped in bringing back many prominent Party members and leaders including former Governors, Ministers, members of National and State Houses of Assembly and many others representing various stakeholders in the Party. Buni literally grew the APC membership base from 11 million to over 40 million, surges the rank of members of APC Governors from 19 to 22 and a Deputy Governor, Senate from 45 to 70, and House of Representatives from 100 to 300 in addition to numerous other critical stakeholders. He magnifies the visibility of the APC in Southeast and South-south geopolitical zones, areas hitherto dominated by opposition parties.
Essentially, Governor Buni harmonizes all factions across the states and the FCT to a rancour-free national convention on the 26th of March 2022, an exercise many thought will mark the end of APC existence. How did he achieve that? Whatever magic Buni employs to have successfully united the APC across lines of division, north and south, young and old, Christian and Muslim, should remain a subject of great interest to students and scholars in the field of Political Science.
Nigeria at the moment is battling noticeable divisive tendencies among the components of the society. Heated political spaces have created social tension, casting fear over the future of the country as a united and democratic society, just as was the case with APC before the Buni era.
Judging from the mood of the nation in terms of divisive tendencies, and the fact that the APC appeared to have ceded its 2023 presidential ticket to the South, it is only logical that Governor Mai Mala Buni, a Muslim northerner, be considered a running mate to a Christain southerner who like Buni, is capable of promoting peace, unity and national cohesion for sustainable development. Such is a consideration, that Nigeria cannot afford to miss.
Governor Mai Mala Buni does not deserve re-election as governor, but a vice presidential slot. This is to properly harness those qualities of his, for the betterment of a united and prosperous Nigeria.
Saleh Babagana, Lecturer, Department of Physics, Yobe State University Damaturu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org