I recall in the 1970s whenever the then military governor of the former North Eastern state, Brig Musa Usman, visited any town, pupils and students were always unwillingly lined up along the roads holding flags to welcome the governor either under the hot sun, the cold harmattan or in the rains. It was a tortuous hangover of colonial mentality.
Forty years later, there seems to be a ‘reincarnation’ of the street line-up practice to welcome or identify with a leader but this time, willingly and unsolicitedly.
It is said that when leaders love their people, the people give him love back. In Yobe State, it has become a common practice among the people who, irrespective of their political differences and cultural affiliations, willingly beseech the streets, cheerfully waving and cheering their Governor, Mai Mala Buni, as he passes every street and, no matter how many times he moves along such streets.
The manifestation of this love started soon after the 2019 election. For the first time in the political history of the state, a rival governorship candidate and an opposition political party both declared not to challenge the election of Mai Mala Buni in any court of law. The PDP and its governorship candidate accepted the election of Buni as governor of Yobe state.
It is quite amazing seeing petty traders, artisans, bean cake sellers ‘akara women’, tea vendors ‘Mai Shayi’, vulcanizers and meat sellers among others abandoning their wares and jumping to the streets to catch a glimpse of their Governor whenever he passes by in their communities. This is likened to the biblical triumphant entry.
My curiosity on why the governor is so liked by his people grew faster. His personal attributes of exceptional humility, patience to listen, attending to people’s problems and committment to assisting vulnerable persons, especially orphans and widows affected by the decade old insurgency were among other reasons why he captured the heart of his people.
The story of Hauwa Mai kosai who had been in the ‘akara’ bean cake business for over 20 years but never owned N30,000 was a typical example. Governor Buni had supported petty traders who were identified at their places of trade and given assistance of between N20,000 and N50,000 depending on the individual’s trade and without attaching favouritism or other primordial sentiments to the support. The targeted beneficiaries were always reached with ease and surprise.
Hauwa like all other beneficiaries was at the place of her trade on a Tuesday morning and without the slightest idea, given N30,000 to build her business. For Hauwa, it was too good to be true and she cried of joy. Hauwa and other petty traders now see it as a duty to always line up the streets to welcome their hero.
Governor Buni in his inaugural address also captured the peoples heart when he declared a state of emergency on primary and basic education. This is a sector that is so dear to the people. Everyone believed that a sound educational foundation was necessary for the collective quest to move education forward in the state. The first ever education summit in the life of the 29 old Yobe state was organized by the Buni administration to give the sector and people a new hope.
He also pledged to construct a functional primary healthcare facility in each of the 178 political wards. Agricultural development, revitalization of moribund factories and infrastructural development also occupied key positions on the priority list of the government.
One year into his administration, It was a promise made, promise fulfilled, seven model schools were constructed with many others rehabilitated providing a conducive teaching and learning environment. The training of teachers and provision of instructional materials indicate the commitment of the Governor to improve the standard of education especially at the foundation level
The township roads constructed in Damagum, Jajimaji, Buni Yadi Babbangida and Malam Matari as well as the Damagum to Gubana,
provision of instructional materials and training of teachers created a conducive teaching and learning environment and the required manpower, just as 53 out of the proposed functional 178 Primary healthcare centers have been completed.
The resuscitation of three state-owned moribund factories namely the Sahel Aluminium company, Yobe flour and feed mills and the Damaturu woven sacks and ropes factory by the Buni regime has provided hundreds with direct job opportunities and source of revenue to the state. It is only obvious that the beneficiaries of this administration are celebrating their Governor. Indeed, Yobe state has this time with the required political will, right approach and committed leadership, has gotten it right.
Little wonder why Governor Mai Mala Buni, was unanimously nominated and adopted by the National Executive Committee of the All Progressives Congress to chair the Caretaker/extraordinary National Convention Committee.
The caretaker committee which was constituted to save the party from imminent collapse, was initially feared to be greeted with more troubles from supporters of the Oshiomoleh led National Working Committee but alas, the personality of Governor Buni allayed those fears. Chief Bisi Akande and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu were handy to embrace the reconciliatory initiatives of the Buni led committee.
Akande said his faith in APC was rekindled with Governor Mai Mala Buni heading the party’s reconciliation committee. Tinubu was quick to add that, with Buni as chairman of the Caretaker committee, there is no more crisis in the party. He said it is more of consultations rather than reconciliation.
It is evidently clear that there is a strong physical and emotional connection between Governor Mai Mala Buni and his people. One can say without fear of contradiction that there is true love, affection, compassion, respect and goodwill between Buni and his people and even beyond.
– Aisha wrote in from Damaturu