For anyone meeting him for the first time, they are never in a haste to leave, while those meeting him for the second time or more always enjoy his company and want to stay around. He has a magnetic character that always attracts people to him. His face beams with a charming smile and he is always the first to extend his hand for a handshake to welcome you, whenever you meet him. He is eager to give you a sense of belonging and comfort.
Hon. Mai Mala Buni, the executive governor of Yobe State and chairman APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, is indeed, a true definition of a gentleman. His large heart is so accommodating and generous to a fault. He has a strong belief in the doctrine of forgiveness, forgiving those who have wronged him with a gentle smile. His enigmatic character leaves both his admirers and adversaries in bewilderment of the phenomenon Mai Mala Buni. He is humility personified.
On Sunday, 19th November 1967, the eastern stars shone like the morning sun, to welcome the birth of Mai Mala Buni, in the ancient and peaceful town of Buni Gari.
Hon. Mai Mala Buni, a politician of great and rare breed that has become a household name in Nigeria’s political space, is the fourth executive governor of Yobe State and chairman of the All Progressives Congress Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee.
Young Buni was enrolled for memorisation of the Holy Quran under the tutelage of his parents and other clerics, before his enrollment into Buni Gari Central Primary School where he obtained the First School Leaving Certificate and proceeded to Government Secondary School, Goniri, where he obtained the West African Examination Council certificate. He also holds a Diploma Certificate from the College of Vocational Science and Technology, Damaturu. He is a holder of a degree in International Relations, and a Masters Degree from Leeds Beckett University, United Kingdom.
Governor Buni was introduced to business at a very early age following the death of his father, a renowned merchant and transporter in the area. Buni inherited lorries and tippers, and expanded the family trade in Gum Arabic, Cotton, Groundnuts, Hides and Skin. As time went on, he gained more experience in business and advanced into numerous business ventures including Oil and Gas, and Bureau De Change. Buni chaired and sat on several boards of business enterprises before his resignation, after his election as governor of Yobe State.
Mai Mala Buni is by every standard a grassroots politician, who started his political career in what could be described as “Beckon to Serve”, when his community nominated and subsequently elected him as councillor in Gujba local government council.
At the local government council, Mai Mala Buni was unanimously elected Leader (Speaker) of the council. It was democracy in action when Buni, as leader of the council, had eight councillors on his side, while the council chairman had only three councillors. He led a council that was vibrant and competitive in service delivery to the people of Gujba local government area.
The appointment of Buni as senior legislative assistant in the National Assembly in 2000 broadened his political horizon and became a force to reckon with in political decisions of his constituency. He later became a Member of University of Uyo Governing council in 2004.
He was a special adviser on Political Affairs and Legislative Matters to Yobe State governor and became protem state secretary and subsequently elected as substantive state chairman of the All Progressives Congress, until his election as National Secretary of the All Progressives Congress. He brought his wealth of political knowledge into the party administration and this contributed immensely to the success of the party which ushered the President Muhammadu Buhari administration into office in 2015. Buni was re-elected in 2018 to serve for a second term as National Secretary of the party.
As the National Secretary, he was appointed as chairman of the Nigeria Shippers Council, until another destiny beckoned on him the same year and was nominated, endorsed and elected as flag bearer of APC for the 2019 Yobe State governorship election. He won a free, fair election with a landslide victory such that the opposition party and its candidate publicly declared that they will not challenge Governor Buni’s election in any court of law. It went into history as the only governorship election in the state that was never challenged in court.
On assumption of office, Governor Buni declared a state of emergency on Primary and Secondary Basic Education, to rejuvenate the damage done to the sector by the protracted Boko Haram insurgency. Healthcare Delivery, Housing, Agriculture, Youth and Women Empowerment and Economic Growth were also listed on the priority list of his administration.
To the glory of God, many schools destroyed by the insurgency have been reconstructed, rehabilitated and re-equipped. Similarly, new Mega and Model schools have been constructed in Damaturu, Potiskum, Gashua, Geidam and Nguru to decongest the overcrowded existing schools, with a training and retraining of over 10,000 teachers.
Little wonder why, 30 years after the creation of Yobe State, this regime made history as the only administration with the single largest housing intervention of 3,600 housing units in the state. The first phase of 2350 housing units has been completed and ready for inauguration.
In the health sector, the Buni administration proposed the construction of 178 functional Primary Health Care Centres for each political ward in the state, out of which 135 have been completed and equipped with functional laboratories, pharmacies, male and female wards and housing accommodation quarters. His government procured 88 customised tricycle ambulances for use in difficult terrains. Similarly, six health centres were upgraded to general hospitals while four general hospitals were upgraded to specialist hospitals to provide effective, efficient, accessible and affordable healthcare to the people.
It is gratifying that his first year in office, recorded the resuscitation of three dormant state owned industries namely, the Yobe State Flour mills Company, Yobe State Sahel Aluminum Company and Yobe State Woven and Sacks Company, creating huge employment opportunities and generating revenue.
To create a conducive atmosphere for trade and commerce, the government is constructing four modern markets in Damaturu, Gashua, Nguru and Potiskum which are nearing completion.
Today, he combines his duties as executive governor of Yobe State and chairman APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, administering Africa’s largest political party.
Under his leadership and to his credit, APC is back on its feet again with high profile defections. Already, three sitting state governors of Ebonyi State, Mr Dave Umahi; Cross River State Prof. Ben Ayade and Zamfara State, Alhaji Bello Muttawale had dumped PDP for the APC. Similarly, he brought former PDP National chairman, Chief Barnabas Gemade, former speakers of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and Dimeji Bankole, former governor of Ogun State and erstwhile director general of PDP’s Atiku Abubakar Presidential campaign organisation, Otumba Gbenga Daniel; several members of the National Assembly, former Chief of Army staff Lt. Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, and many more other prominent politicians and their supporters across Nigeria.
Hon. Mai Mala Buni is gifted with uncommon courtesy and wisdom. A wisdom akin to that of king Solomon which attracted unprecedented entry into the party and its general success. Governor Buni made history by successfully revalidating old memberships and registering new members. The party now boasts of over 40 Million as the registration exercise remains open and gives the party ownership to the people using the bottom to top approach. In fact, there are fears that the political sagacity of Hon. Buni, which attracts more politicians into the fold of the APC, is capable of turning Nigeria into one party system.
Hon. Mai Mala Buni is a recipient of over 60 Awards of Excellence from various bodies, associations and corporate bodies in recognition of his contributions to human development, philanthropy, good governance and developmental democracy.
By Mamman Mohammed, the Director General Press Affairs and Media to Governor Mai Mala Buni