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Governor Buni: A Faithful Advocate of True Democracy In Nigeria

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GOVERNOR BUNI: A FAITHFUL ADVOCATE OF TRUE DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA

By Mamman Mohammed

Nigeria’s struggle for democracy had been quite thorny from the first and second republics to the June 12, 1993 election, which was annulled, to the present dispensation which has lasted 22 straight years. Throughout this period, there has been the good, the bad and the ugly moments. We have also had players who shaped, and have continued to shape, the struggle for the sustenance of Nigeria’s democracy.

Since the declaration of June 12 as Nigeria’s democracy day by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2018, the new date has assumed the status of the nation’s mirror to reflect our journey to democratic governance after so many years of successive military administrations and the struggles that followed to entrench democracy that will stand the test of time.

Nigeria’s first democratic experience after independence was the parliamentary system of government referred to as the First Republic, which had Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe of the National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) as president, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa of the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) as prime minister, and Chief Obafemi Awolowo of the Action Group (AG) as leader of the opposition. There were also four premiers: Sir Ahmadu Bello, Northern Region; Chief Samuel Akintola, Western Region; Chief Michael Okpara, Eastern Region, and Chief Dennis Osadebey, Midwestern Region.

Sadly, the 1966 military coup ended the First Republic and introduced the military regime in the political system of the country, and it went on to dominate the nation’s life.

Nigeria returned to democracy in 1979 when General Olusegun Obasanjo handed over power to Alhaji Usman Aliyu Shehu Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) as the elected president after he defeated other political chieftains like Chief Obafemi Awolowo of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe of the Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP),  Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim of the Great Nigeria People’s Party (GNPP) and Mallam Aminu Kano of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP).

As the country struggled to learn the ropes, the Second Republic was brought to a halt by another military coup just three months into President Shagari’s second term.

The attempt to return the country to democracy in 1993 under a two-party system composed of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the National Republican Convention (NRC) produced Chief Moshood Abiola (MKO) and Alhaji Bashir Othman Tofa respectively.  Surprisingly, SDP fielded a Muslim/Muslim ticket with Chief MKO Abiola and Ambassador Babagana Kingibe as presidential and vice presidential candidates respectively while NRC had Bashir Tofa and Sylvester Ugoh on the other side.

The June 12, 1993 election was described as fantastic, free, fair and most peaceful election in Nigeria. Nigerians had in that election jettisoned primordial sentiments of religion and ethnicity to elect SDP’s Muslim/Muslim ticket of Abiola and Kingibe with over 8.3 million votes to defeat NRC’s Tofa/Ugoh who scored 5.9 million votes.

The 1993 election gave the nation a new hope for national unity and prosperity. However, the results were never announced officially. A court order obtained by one previously unknown group, Association for Better Nigeria (ABN), suspended the process and, eventually, the election was annulled by the then military regime. Today, June 12 has become Nigeria’s symbol of democracy.

Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999 at a time when military regime was no longer fashionable globally was celebrated by Nigerians and the international community. Similarly, in what seemed to be a national healing process, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) fielded Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who enjoyed a lot of sympathy and support from Nigerians over what was described as wrongful detention by the Abacha regime.  The party rode to success and thereafter remained in power for 16 years.

The PDP as a ruling party also had its challenges, producing 12 national chairmen in its 16 years of rule.  It started with Chief Barnabas Gemade (999-2001), Chief Audu Ogbeh (2001-2005), Ahmadu Ali (2005-2008), Prince Vincent Ogbulagor (2008-2010), Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo (2010), Dr. Haliru Mohammed (2010), Alhaji Kawu Baraje (2011-2014), Bamanga Tukur (2012-2014), Adamu Muazu (2015), Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff (2015-2016),  Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi (2015-2016) and Uche Secondus 2017- date.

In 2013, four parties, namely the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), merged to oust PDP from power.

Chief Tom Ikimi, a chieftain of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) stated that leaders of the four merging parties had agreed that the need to form a formidable party to wrest power from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015 was more urgent than ever.

“At no time in our national life has the need for radical change become more urgent. And to meet the challenge, we the following political parties, namely, ACN, ANPP, APGA and CPC, have resolved to merge forthwith and become All Progressive Congress (APC) and offer to our beleaguered people a recipe for peace and prosperity,” Ikimi said.

The election of President Muhammadu in 2015 heralded the beginning of the APC administration. The new ruling party started with Chief Bisi Akande as the interim national chairman in 2013, followed by the election of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun in 2014 and Adams Oshiomhole in 2018.

However, Oshiomhole’s reign was submerged in various crises with a litany of litigations. This not only threatened the very existence of the party but was also distracting the APC-led federal government of President Muhammadu  Buhari.

On June 25, 2018 the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ruling APC had to take decisive action to save the party from an imminent collapse. This saw to the constitution of a 13-man Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee under the leadership of Yobe State governor, Hon. Mai Mala Buni.

The decision of the party’s National Executive Committee to dissolve the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) was welcomed by many party faithful; some were, however, skeptical and remained on the fence, while few others with sympathy to Oshiomhole outrightly condemned the entire action.

As a two-term national secretary of the party, Governor Buni brought his experience to bear. He aggressively pursued the founding members of the party, including Chief Bisi Akande and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, among others, to understand why the Caretaker Committee was needed – which was to save the party. His bargaining power for reconciliation through courtesy, humility, respect and throwing the party ownership to the people through the now famous bottom-up approach quickly cemented relationships with a new trust in the APC.

Buni’s declaration of true and genuine reconciliation among members was indeed the expected panacea to commence the herculean task of moving the party out of the woods. The sincerity, or otherwise, of this statement was to decide and determine the fate and recovery of the party.

Buni’s style of leadership was to remain neutral, objective and impartial in handling disputes; give everyone what genuinely belongs to them; carry everyone along as demonstrated by the appointment of party members from all factions into various committees, thereby giving everyone a sense of belonging. He is a strong apostle of building democracy that derives its strength from the electorate.

The reconciliation of intensely contending factions in Zamfara State, for instance, is indeed a case study. APC had lost in Zamfara, Rivers, Cross River and Bayelsa states. However, the internal feuds in these states have been settled. Reports of skirmishes among stakeholders in Kwara, Ogun, Imo and Rivers states are being addressed in order to have a strong and united party in all the state chapters.

Buni’s approach worked like a magnet and, soon,  prominent politicians cutting across all political parties, including  former PDP chairman Chief Barnabas Gemade, two former Speakers of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole and Yakubu Dogara, former Ogun State governor and director-general of the PDP’s Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Organisation,  Otumba Gbenga Daniel, Senator Kabir Marafa, have either rejoined or newly joined the party and paid loyalty to the leadership of the party.

The dates, November 17, 2020 and May 20, 2021, will remain memorable in the history of the All Progressives Congress (APC)  and the political history of Nigeria. These were the days serving governors of Ebonyi and Cross River states, Mr. Dave Umahi and Prof. Ben Ayade respectively defected from the opposition PDP to the APC.

With his gift of humble approach, political experience and tenacity, Hon. Mai Mala Buni has undoubtedly proved to be a strong source of political stability in Nigeria.

As a politician who started his career at the grassroots as a councillor, then state party chairman, political adviser, national secretary of a party and state governor, this deep-rooted experience has provided him with some added advantage in managing political affairs effectively and efficiently.
He is, indeed, an advocate of internal and true democracy where power truly comes from the people.

Mohammed is the Director-General Press and Media Affairs to  Yobe Gov. Mai Mala Buni
 

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Opinion

Educational development in Yobe And Fika old students Association

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Educational Development in Yobe and Fika old students association

By Abba Dukawa

YOBE state had its own bitter taste of the Boko Haram insurgency, which practically destroyed many schools in the state, immediately on the day Governor Mai Mala Buni took over the affairs of the state, he had unveiled his administration’s commitments in improving primary and secondary education in the state. During his inauguration speech on May 29, declared a state of emergency on primary and secondary education in the state. Its apt to quote him , I Hereby Declare A State Of Emergency On Primary And Secondary Education In The State, To Build A Solid, Vibrant And Robust Foundation For The Development Of Education. Government Would As A Matter Of Deliberate Policy Continue To Provide The Necessary Support To Move Education In The State To Greater Heights.”

This declaration declare a state of emergency on state education is an admission that things are not where they are supposed to be. It means that the familiar perception of the problems that confront the state and must be creatively challenged.

To be fair government cannot be completely blame for poor educational facilities; but the communities and Old Students association, in they own right, has a vital role to play in the supporting alma mater while communities also nedd to support government efforts in , delivery and improvement of education.

Politics aside there is need for Old students association need to pay back what the government offered them during the good days instead of politicize alleged lack of decent educational facilities in some schools in the state.

HMB’s administration recorded tremendous achievements greatly in health care delivery to schools, roads, agriculture in spite of the security challenges in Yobe state. Yobe State is home to about a third of Nigeria’s 13.2 million out-of-school children. In order to improve and encourage pupil’s enrolment in schools in the state HMB’s administration partner with the Federal Government for the implementation of the Home Grown Feeding Programme.

The administration has made a significant landmark in revolutionising the educational sector in the state Buni convened the state’s first education summit to proffered solutions to the sector past track his administration goal in the development of the state education sectors.

Like it or not the administration has increased school enrolment in the state, Some structures burnt down by the Boko Haram insurgents renovated, establish two model primary schools and two model junior secondary schools in each of the state three senatorial districts to expand access to education by the school age.

Hundreds of schools have so far been rehabilitate, new ones in the local government councils affected by the insurgency and other local government area of the state have been constructed in line with the state of emergency declared by the administration on education. Also new Model schools were constructed in Damaturu, Gashua, Potiskum, Geidam, Nguru and Buni Yadi all Buni’s administration effort to provide conducive atmosphere for teaching and learning.

Thousands teachers have been trained and retrained to enhance manpower requirements of the schools and thousands fresh teachers has been employed despite state with lean financial resources. administration procured and distributed over N1billion text books, laboratory equipment and chemicals. Classroom and office furniture were procured and distributed to schools across the state. State higher institutions also not left out in spite mountainous challenges facing the state, the administration has greatly support the state owned tertiary institutions to be centres of academic excellence, and also to produce adequate, trained and qualified manpower to serve the state and beyond.

In view of the great loss suffered by the education sector from insurgency, the administration is determined to move the State away from an educationally disadvantaged to an educationally prosperous one. Buni’s administration already partner and seek for special intervention from the Federal Ministry of Education, the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TET Fund), International Organizations to support Yobe state government in its commitment to rebuilding education in the State.

In my view, on recent video posted on social media by Fika Government Secondary Old Boy on School facilities; is nothing but looking for cheap popularity. In deal society, communities and Old Students Association are complementing govenment’s efforts, in providing educational facilities in their immediate environment like what peoples seeing in the southern part of the country. It should be a good for Fika Old Students Associations to be bipartisan not to be critical to government efforts. It would be a great insensitivity for them to blame the state government on decay of school facilities. What support they offered to their alma Mater in they capacities as Old Boy of Fika Governor Buni’s deserve commendation for his concern on education, especially at the all levels.

To be fair without Government alone cannot provide educational facilities to all state own schools as there is need for total support of School Based Management Committees (SBMCs) and Old Students association, in every communities. Fika Old Students Associations and other alike Old Boys forgot even before HMB secession to power in May 29/2019, the insurgents has destroyed many educational facilities in the state making many pupils to abandon schools for their safety. In spite of this challange Governor Buni has displaying his political will toward the educational development across the state.

Undeniably Buni’s administration take proactive steps to rehabilitate and equip to standard at least one Science Secondary School in each senatorial zone in the State. Community and old students association has a vital role to play in the provision, educational facilities and improvement of education, peasants, government, traditional and religious leaders everyone has a stake in it.

Dukawa can be reached at abbahydukawa@gmail.com.

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APC Congress: Why There is No Descending Voice in Borno

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APC Congress: Why there is no descending voice in Borno

By: Yusuf Adamu

The All Progressive Congress, APC in Borno state has shone that unity among party members following the meeting held today at the multipurpose hall of the Maiduguri government house is a clear indication that the leadership under governor Babagana Umara Zulum is carrying everyone along on the decisions taking to shaping the future of the party in the state and to have others emulate the good example from Borno state.

The examplary demonstration of the stewardship of the governor Zulum administration and advices from party leaders like the former governor Senator Kashim Shettima, senators representing northern Borno – Abubakar Kyari and Senator Muhammed Ali Ndume of southern Borno as well as members of the house of representatives and stakeholders have spoken well of the party as it prepares for the coming Congress.

The outward demonstration of maturity and agreement that gives birth to peaceful meeting of party members is an indication that APC in Borno state has come of aged and standing as a true democracy. It also shows that, the governor has been leading the right way of leaders who are selfless in the discharge of their responsibilities.

The fact that there was no descending voice true out the cause of the meeting and even after is a positive indications that all those who are representing the party in leadership position both at the state and national levels has the stake of charismatic leadership that speaks volumes on the delivery of people trust and confidence repose on them.

The meeting has brought light to the cravings for equality among members and understanding among followership that makes APC thick under this democratic experience. The respect and total commitment exercise by members has gone steps further to bring out the best that any democratic governance can offer. This also has brought the fact that the consensus which was agreed upon today is heart warming and politically energizing is the making of a greater APC in Borno state.

  • Yusuf Adamu writes from Maiduguri

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Opinion

The Rot in Education Predated Governor Buni, By Hassan Gimba

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The Rot In Education Predated Governor Buni, by Hassan Gimba

I recently watched a video clip made by an old student of Fika Government Secondary School in which he showed how dilapidated the school is. It was first sent to me by a retired federal permanent secretary and later by a former minister of the federal republic. Among many others who sent the same clip to me is a friend who is a professor and a dean in Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi and another who is a state commander of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency. That means the video clip has gone viral.

Many of those who sent me the clip asked whether it was true. Some suggested I bring it to the notice of the Governor, His Excellency Mai Mala Buni. I appreciated all of them and thanked them for their belief and confidence that I would bring it to the governor’s notice.

I have not met and discussed it with the governor–yet–but I am sure he must have seen it by now. I am sure because I know he has his ears to the ground and has one of the best feedback mechanisms among the governors of the nation.

My take on the video is deep, as I explained to some of them who expected me to say something. Their unuttered query was like “being a journalist who knows the governor for ages and reports his activities, you must know something”. Therefore, tell them something without holding brief for those really responsible, I have to.

The rot in education in Yobe State has eaten deep over the years. Perhaps right from its creation. Anyone who listened to the video would attest to that. The videographer’s first sentence gave him out as someone who was unfortunate to go to a Yobe school in the 1990s, as he said, when education imparted was half-baked. Throughout his lamentations, his rendition suggested someone who needed further teaching to redo the WAEC in English, at least.

But people believe that once a message is conveyed, then language can be blown to smithereens. Well, his message was loud and clear, but our concern here is the quality of education he got in the 1990s. Meaning the poor quality of education in Yobe predated the emergence of Honourable Mai Mala Buni as the governor of the state.

Therefore, aware of the decay in the state of education, Governor Buni’s first act as governor, pronounced before he came down from the podium on the day of his inauguration, was the declaration of the State of Emergency on primary and secondary education. He followed that up by hosting an Education Summit on the 1st of July, after which he set up a Technical Committee under the chairmanship of Professor Malah Daura, a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri.

To prove that it was not mere propaganda, that year he allocated to the education sector the largest share of N22.853b or 21.08%. In previous years education had very low allocations.

See attached graphs.

Reversing decomposition is not an effortless task. There are worse schools than Fika, in Yobe, unfortunately. Almost all the schools had not only dilapidated structures, but the absence of such when he took over. Typical examples are schools with structures meant for about 2000 but harbouring over 20,000 pupils.

However, from 2019 to date, he has rehabilitated and expanded many of the schools in the state. Fika and others in a similar state of disrepair are on the agenda and I am privileged to know that already the process for their rehabilitation has been kick-started. Meanwhile, he has built from scratch 14 new schools comprising seven mega and seven standard model schools, with each having 24 classrooms.

While the video clip is an eye-opener, it is also an indicator of how intense the atrophy in education in the state is and for how long.

But if we should be fair, the rot predated Governor Mai Mala Buni’s ascension. Again, to be truthful, he came intending to better education in the state and he has started.

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