It is doubtful, almost near impossible, if there is any governorship candidate in Yobe State who can match the political machinery of the All Progressives Congress (APC) not to talk of defeating the party’s candidate, Mai Mala Buni, in the forthcoming elections.
For a political party that became a behemoth over the years in Yobe, to contemplate defeating it in a fair electoral contest is a forlorn hope. The APC, which is an amalgam of the legacy parties including the defunct ANPP, had been in the opposition between 1999 and 2015 when it clinched the presidency. Yet it dominated the political landscape in Yobe.
Even with the federal might of the then ruling PDP, backed by political heavyweights from the state, the highest the PDP could ever get was the seat for the Southern Senatorial Zone.
The ANPP in Yobe State, which formed the APC, had its roots in the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP), which formed government under the diarchy rule of General Ibrahim Babangida in 1992 with Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim as the governor. Therefore it is safe to say that the APP, which later metamorphosed into the ANPP and then became APC has been governing Yobe in a democratic setting since its creation in 1991.
With the foregoing, the emergence of Mai Mala Buni as the governor of Yobe State in the 2019 general election is a fait accompli because of the rich history and political exploit of the APC and the galaxy of rated politicians who populated the party in the state. Of course leading the way in the campaign for Mai Mala is no other person than Governor Ibrahim Gaidam himself, who is ably supported by Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Senator Ahmed Lawan, Ibrahim Bomoi, the Senatorial Candidate for the Southern Zone, Party Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Chilariye, Alhaji Idi Barde Gubana, the Deputy Governor, Engineer Abubakar Aliyu, among other politicians too numerous to mention.
The unity of purpose in the Yobe APC was amply demonstrated when other aspirants of the party’s governorship ticket sacrificed their ambition and agreed to rally round and work for the victory of Mai Mala Buni at the polls. With such a formidable structure, victory is guaranteed by God’s grace.
Mai Mala is a thorough party man and a grass roots politician, who rose through the ranks to become the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Legislative Matters, the pioneer Chairman of the APC in Yobe State as well as the National Secretary of the party. He played a stabilizing role in the APC, which earned him a re-election into the post.
Mai Mala Buni has developed a political network of friends across the country particularly when he served as the National Secretary of the APC. In fact his office was the rallying point for state governors, members of the National Assembly, ministers, party faithful and political bigwigs. He discharged his function with such precision and efficiency, which earned him silent visibility across the country.
From my interaction with some journalists who cover the APC national secretariat in Abuja, I have gleaned that Mai Mala Buni is not a noise-marker. The only period journalists heard from him was when the Acting Spokesman of the party was suspended so he had to step in and issue statements on behalf of the party. But the journalists were unanimous in their opinion of him as a hard-worker and a smooth but silent operator, who is highly principled.
Some of the journalists actually confided in me that they were utterly surprised when his name came up as the consensus governorship candidate of the APC in Yobe State. In fact, he could only break the news to them through the secretary of the Press Corps. He never granted interviews or issued statement on his political elevation.
With his background as a core politician with network of friends across the country, Mai Mala is definitely an asset to Yobe because of his capacity to bring the state into national political limelight and attract various projects from the Federal Government.
Yobe is a rural state with various challenges of development. The state also had its own bitter taste of the Boko Haram insurgency, which practically stalled development in areas that have direct impact on the human capital development indices. The insurgency caused economic dislocation and disrupted the social life of the state.
The out-going Governor Gaidam has performed excellently in building the confidence of the citizenry in the government as well as the provision of infrastructure and social services ranging from health care delivery to schools, roads, agriculture, etc. Indeed, he has acquainted himself creditably as the governor of Yobe in the most challenging period of the history of the state.
All eyes are now on Mai Mala Buni to consolidate on the achievements on Governor Gaidam and equally expand the frontiers of development in Yobe State.
Joe Mutah contributed this piece from Abuja