By Mamman Mohammed
Thursday 30th March 2022 will remain a day to remember. It was a day that the good people of Yobe State rolled out the red carpet and drums and trooped out in large numbers in their ceremonial wears to give a rousing welcome to His Excellency, Governor Mai Mala Buni, 24 hours after he formally handed over the office of the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to his successor, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu
For the past 21 months, Governor Buni had painstakingly combined the governance of Yobe State with political party administration. As a former two-term National secretary and now serving governor, the National Executive Committee of the party, on 26th June 2020 unanimously nominated Buni as chairman, APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, with a mandate to rescue, reposition and organise a national convention for the ailing national ruling party.
He quickly injected his wealth of experience and co-opted several chieftains to execute the assignment within the six months time limit. However, it became obvious that the six months dateline was inadequate compared to the decay and the life-threatening troubles bedevilling the party.
Addressing the party’s just-concluded National Convention, Governor Buni said “When we commenced the assignment, we realized that the problems on ground had far outweighed our estimation of the time required to resolve the huge problems bedevilling the party. This made the initial six months dateline grossly inadequate, unrealistic, and not practicable and therefore, the need for an extension for more time. Happily, for every extension, we brought in additional values with positive developments into the party.
Events in the last days of the Caretaker Committee’s tenure, however, took a dramatic turn with the purported ouster of the chairman. But, unlike Julius Caesar who was consumed by the ‘Ides of March’, Buni successfully swam the turbulent tides and murky political waters. The governor, who was abroad receiving medical attention, survived the Ides of March in the party unscathed. He came back and resumed as chairman of the Caretaker Committee and organised a very successful and peaceful convention, described as the best in the political history of Nigeria.
Little wonder why the people of the state believed he deserved a hero’s welcome after a successful outing, which has done the state proud. And they celebrated their governor, their pride, chanting “Welcome back our hero, you have done us proud”.
For those who went to school in the 60s, 70s, and early 80s, the welcome ceremony reminds them of the old days when students lined up on the roads to welcome a visiting governor on an official visit to their towns. However, unlike what was obtained then, the Thursday, March 30th event was different. From the Maiduguri International Airport to Bulumkutu, Njim Tilo, Auno, Jakana, Mainok, Benishiek, Tomsu Kawu, Ngamdu, Warsala, and Kukareta, hundreds of people willingly, without coercion adorned both sides of the highway waving Nigeria and APC flags to welcome Governor Mai Mala Buni back home after successfully repositioning the APC.
The heroic journey to Yobe which started in Abuja, had some state governors, members of the APC National Working Committee, members of the former Caretaker Committee, and admirers volunteering to join Governor Buni to go to Yobe State, but he excused them, assuring that they would be invited for a formal ceremony, without knowing that, Yobe was agog and already celebrating his arrival.
However, the president of the Senate, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan and other federal legislators from the state, some NWC members, friends and political associates insisted on being on the convoy of Governor Buni to Yobe and went with him.
Landing at the Maiduguri International Airport, the Borno State Government was handy to receive Governor Buni.
Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum, Borno State governor who travelled out of the country, was ably represented by his deputy, Alh. Umar Usman Kadafur at the airport along with members of the state cabinet, APC chieftains, and supporters. Similarly, the Yobe State Government led by the deputy governor, Hon. idi Barde Gubana with members of the State Executive Council and several personalities, were also at the airport to welcome the hero back home.
The risky Maiduguri-Damaturu federal highway was full of an overwhelming motorcade, some mounted with loudspeakers playing loud music all the way. At Warsala, the Yobe/Borno border community, the crowd was unprecedented, giving security agents, the Federal Road Safety Corps, and the state-owned traffic management agency (YOROTA), a very hectic time controlling both human and vehicular movements.
From Warsala to Damaturu, a distance of about 30 kilometers took the convoy over one hour to arrive Damaturu owing to the long and congested traffic. The crowd jettisoned fatigue and hunger to celebrate and welcome Governor Buni.��It was another herculean task to get into the August 27 stadium, the venue of the event. And when the event started, it was encomiums and praises. Speakers upon speakers eulogised Governor Buni for a very successful assignment, describing his stewardship as APC National Chairman, as pride and honour done to the state.
President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan was at his best. He spoke eloquently and brilliantly, capturing the success of Governor Buni’s stewardship as the National Caretaker, chairman of the APC.
He said “Your Excellency, you have proven beyond any reasonable doubt that President Muhammadu Buhari our leader, made the right decision and made the right choice by ensuring that someone who will deliver our party at the time of crisis was made the chairman, to take care of our party and plan for a convention that we have just concluded at the weekend.
“Your Excellency, you have made us proud. We are proud Yobeans because you have done everything and anything expected of you as the chairman of the Caretaker and Convention Planning Committee.��“We are here to also celebrate APC itself because APC, as a result of what you have been able to do, Your Excellency, we are ready for 2023 by the Grace of God.
“I want to take this opportunity to assure you, Your Excellency, that you have our total commitment, you have our total loyalty and total support as our leader in this state” the President of the Senate concluded.
The state deputy governor, Idi Barde Gubana, commended the people of the state for supporting the government of Governor Mai Mala Buni, especially while handling the affairs of the party which requires his time in Abuja.
“Happily, while handling the two offices, we, as a state, have continued to witness progress in education, healthcare delivery, road construction, Housing, and other social infrastructure. We commend your good efforts, sacrifices, and commitments to good governance and repositioning of our great party, the APC” the Deputy Governor maintained.
The Borno State deputy governor, Alh. Umar Usman Kadafur, who along with his team escorted Governor Buni to Yobe, said the success recorded by Governor Buni, was a success for the North East sub-region.
“Your Excellency, you have done not just the people of Yobe state proud but, it is an honour done to the entire North East. We are proud to have you and we are proud of your successes.��”You led the North East to give Nigeria’s ruling Party and Africa’s largest political party a new lease of life, a new lifeline to win the 2023 election and to remain in the leadership position,” he said.
Ali Bukar Dalori (Ali Tablet), chairman, APC Borno State who doubles as the chairman, Forum of APC State Chairmen, and Alhaji Muhammadu Gadaka, Yobe State APC chairman, said Governor Buni provided the needed leadership at the party’s most trying time to survive. Tablet said “We wouldn’t have predicted the fate of APC as a party if Governor Buni had not given the desired leadership at that crucial time. We are happy you came timely and readily to rescue the party.”
Gadaka commended Buni for restoring confidence in the party, wooing governors and other high-profile politicians along with their supporters into the party “the registration of over 41 million members for APC is an unprecedented feat that has positioned the party to win all elections”.
When l had the privilege to welcome His Excellency, Governor Mai Mala Buni to the podium, the crowd was let loose with jubilations and even the red-carpet pathway was overtaken by the jubilant crowd. It was a true show of love and honour to the people’s governor. The security once again had to battle to clear the pathway. And when he finally mounted the podium and waved, the crowd simply enraptured. As usual, Buni was calm, measured, and appreciative. He thanked everyone for the support, cooperation, show of love, and endorsement of his successful assignment.
Governor Buni dedicated his success to the people for their support, love, and cooperation “The success of my journey and contributions to the growth of the party belongs to you. You own it, it was you who achieved that for our party to survive and progress, l thank you all, the good people of Yobe state, our brothers in the North East, and of course, the entire APC family across the country and in the diaspora. We are all a wonderful family and l urge you to support the new National Working Committee under the able Chairmanship of His Excellency Sen. Abdullahi Adamu. The NEC needs your support to succeed.”
Like the convention that ended successfully and peacefully, the heroic welcome ceremony ended peacefully and successfully in honour of a peaceful and successful governor, Mai Mala Buni.
Mammam Mohammed is
Director General Press and Media Affairs