CON, A National Honour Well Deserved by Yobe State Governor Hon. Mai Mala Buni, By Mamman Mohammed
It is said, a goldfish has no hiding place. More so when such a symbolic goldfish passes through the three most deadly tests of power, knowledge, and money, that brings out the true depth of a man’s character, unblemished.
For Mai Mala Buni, the fourth democratically elected Governor of Yobe state, after three decades of steady impactful walk through the corridors of power at both local, state, and National levels, every inch of that long walk is today a testament of triumph above the humiliating temptations of power and money.
Here is a man blessed with a character of humility, sympathy, accessibility, and a genius in letting go of what rightfully and lawfully belongs to him, for peace to reign.
These saintly virtues manifested in him at a very early age, when as a Secondary school student, full of youthful exuberance, surprised his siblings, uncles, and the larger Buni-Gari community, forfeiting his inheritance and requesting that it should be added to those of his siblings to foster unity and entrench peaceful coexistence in the family. This rare act of generosity remained a reference point of sacrifice and selflessness in the community. Buni, was later through hardwork, blessed as a successful grain and Gum Arabic merchant before going into other business ventures.
Born on 19th November 1967, the then-young Buni enjoyed the riches of his father, when as a secondary school student, he had a tipper lorry attached to him, enjoying the proceeds of the lorry for his upkeep. His generosity and magnetic character attracted so many friends to him, most of whom are still with him today.
After his Secondary education, and based on popular demand, Mai Mala Buni was hand-picked by his community, Buni-Gari ward, to represent them as Councillor in Gujba Local Government Council and subsequently emerged as elected Leader (Speaker), Gujba Local Government Council, 1991-1992. As the leader of the Council, he had eight loyal councillors against three on the side of the chairman. That guaranteed true checks and balances in service of the people. He became the most powerful council leader in the Old Borno state.
Governor Buni was a senior legislative assistant in the National Assembly in the year 2000 and in 2004, he was appointed Member of the Governing Council, University of Uyo. Two years later, Buni was elected State Chairman of the Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD), and became State Chairman of the Action Congress (ACN) from 2006 to 2010.
His political sagacity and capacity to manage political complexities earned him an appointment as a Senior Special Assistant to Yobe State governor on Inter-Party Affairs between 2009 and 2011. After the 2011 elections, Hon. Mai Mala Buni was appointed Special Adviser to the governor on Political Affairs, a position he held until 2013 when he was elected as the pioneer State Chairman of the newly formed All Progressives Congress (APC).
His surging political career gained momentum again as he was elected the first substantive National Secretary of the All Progressives Congress. He was unanimously and successfully returned for a second term as the National Secretary of the ruling party.
His contributions to reshaping Nigeria’s democracy are both glaring and tangible when as Secretary of the newly formed opposition party, the APC dislodged the ruling Peoples Democratic Party and its sitting President, Goodluck Jonathan, to win the 2015 general election which returned Muhammadu Buhari, as Nigeria’s President and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.
It was while serving his second term as national secretary of the ruling political party that stakeholders in Yobe state unanimously nominated him as their preferred candidate for the governorship of the state, validating the adage, goldfish has no hiding place.
Buni was elected with a landslide victory, his acceptability cutting across political party divides, ethnic and cultural differences.
The PDP and its governorship candidate in Yobe state, Amb. Umar Iliya Damagum willingly and publicly declared not to contest the election of Governor Buni in any court of law. He extended hands of fellowship to party and non-party party members to join his administration to build a prosperous Yobe state.
With cumulative knowledge and experience of politics and governance, it was therefore not surprising that when the ruling APC was heading towards an impending catastrophe in 2020, the National Executive Committee of the party beckoned at the calm, soft-spoken, hard determined gentleman governor to the rescue by unanimously nominating Governor Buni as the Chairman, Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee of the party.
He combined the two offices of a Governor and APC National chairman for 21 months with ease and innermost conviction. To the glory of the interventionist, pacifist, and redemptive approach to the national assignment, three serving governors of Cross River, Ebonyi, and Zamfara states defected from the PDP to APC. Similarly, high-profile politicians including former PDP national chairman, former Speakers of the House of Representatives, and serving and former members of the National Assembly, joined the APC.
Landmarks In Yobe
On assumption of office as Governor on 29th May 2019, Governor Buni declared a state of emergency on education and pledged to, among other things, establish one functional Primary Healthcare Center in each of the 178 political wards across the state. Agriculture, youth, and women empowerment for sustainable means of livelihood and infrastructural development were on the priority list of the Buni administration.
To the glory of God, 138 out of the proposed 178 Primary Healthcare Centers have been completed, furnished, and equipped. Six Primary Health centers are now upgraded to General Hospitals while Four General Hospitals were also upgraded to Specialists Hospitals. Equipment at the State Teaching Hospital was upgraded to be in tune with changing times, making the Teaching Hospital one of the best in the country boasting of state-of-the-art machines.
Yobe state today provides World class medical treatment and is fast becoming a Medical tourism center, attracting patients from far and near to access efficient and affordable medical services.
The attestation by Alh. Adamu Hashimu, a retired Permanent Secretary in the Bauchi state civil service, whose ailing son was referred to Egypt for surgery gives credence to what Yobe state symbolizes medically. A medical Doctor neighbour of his had suggested he go to Yobe State Teaching Hospital as an alternative with very less financial implication against the overseas treatment. He opted for the Yobe Teaching Hospital and the son had the first successful surgery at less than N40,000 and the second surgery successfully, with about the same financial cost. He expressed delight with a famous remark that “l had never expected these services are obtainable here in Yobe state, Governor Mai Mala Buni, has done exceptionally well to bring affordable and efficient healthcare services to his people. In Yobe state under the Buni administration, democracy is truly and evidently working. I passionately appeal to other state governors to emulate the Buni example. On behalf of my humble self and family, l sincerely congratulate and express our profound gratitude to the governor, government and people of Yobe state.”
It is on record that Yobe state government under the Buni administration, is the first state in the Northeast sub-region to introduce the Healthcare Contributory scheme known as the Yobe State Contributory Health Management Agency (YOCHMA) and Yobe Drugs Management Agency (YODMA) to ensure adequate funding and availability of drugs for patients under the expanded free drugs programme of the state government covering pregnant women, children, victims of road accidents, the weak and aged, and other vulnerable persons. presently, there are over 400,000 beneficiaries enjoying the scheme. Yobe is the only state in the North with the highest employer-subsidy of the programme. The programme has been expanded to cover the weak, vulnerable, and indigent families.
The State Government under Governor Buni also introduced emergency ambulance services on highways and other strategic locations to provide emergency services to domestic and road accident victims before reaching the nearest health facilities.
To boost medical personnel in the health institutions, over 30 medical doctors, 2,000 graduates of the state-owned College of Nursing and Midwifery, and 50 graduates of the School of Health Technology were employed by the Buni administration. Similarly, Hospitals and Doctors quarters were given a face-lift to provide a conducive working environment in the health facilities.
The Buni administration is engaged in a holistic approach to healthcare delivery including prompt payment of counterpart funding that is paying off by making healthcare accessible and affordable to the people at their doorsteps. Little wonder Yobe state has become a medical tourist center to patients from the neighbouring states and indeed, beyond.
Yobe state’s participation in national healthcare activities is exemplary, this explains the outstanding performance of the state in the National immunization exercises leading to receipt of the award of the best performing state.
The Buni administration rehabilitated existing schools and established six modern and seven Mega schools to decongest schools, procured books and laboratory equipment, employed more teachers, trained and re-trained more teachers to enhance manpower to improve quality of education in the state. Government is sponsoring many students studying specialised coursed in some countries across the globe.
The Buni regime has completed the state owned lnternational Cargo airport which it inherited at skeletal stage. It is now ready for commissioning. It also initiated and constructed four modern markets to create conducive environment for trade and commerce for economic development, resuscitated three dormant industries, provided women and youth empowerment initiatives for self-employment, constructed 1,800 housing units the largest intervention since the creation of the state.
Numerous township and inter- town roads have been constructed to facilitate movement of goods and services. Government has also provided 133 communities with electricity supply to make life better for the benefitting communities. Today, there has been an increase in self-employment and economic empowerment in the benefitting communities.
Yobe state government under the able leadership of Governor Buni is transforming agriculture from subsistence farming to commercial based agriculture through provision of inputs and implements.
It is indeed gratifying that the Buni administration is rated by independent Budget monitors as one the best in Nigeria in Capital Budget Expenditure, and prompt in payment of workers’ salaries.
Jesse Owens, an American field and track athlete could not be righter when he asserted, “We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and, effort.” These are indeed the pillars Mai Mala Buni stands tall on, little wonder he is easily spotted for the numerous awards and recognitions, and now this very deserving National Honour of, the Commander of the Order of the Niger, CON.
Congratulations Your Excellency.