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Now That MMB is APC Interim Chairman, By Hassan Gimba

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Now that MMB is APC interim chairman, by Hassan Gimba

On June 25 last year, a special NEC meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) appointed Governor Mai Mala Buni as the chairman of the party’s Caretaker Committee. Four days later I wrote on this page warning the opposition, especially the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), that they can only ignore him at their peril. But did they take my warning seriously?

The APC was on the brink of implosion when he took over. It had lost states and national legislative seats in the 2019 general elections and was on the brink of losing sitting governors. But the party, which had 64 senators then now has over 70. He has also made three PDP governors throw away the umbrella and embraced his broom wielding party, with the possibility of bringing in more. I here reproduce the write-up:

That the All Progressives Congress (APC) was galloping towards disintegration was obvious. That other political parties, especially the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), that would benefit from APC’s implosion were happily watching, like vultures sensing a carcass, and awaiting the apocalypse needs no elaboration.

This week I had wanted to write about “Change” and why it should not begin with me. In it, there was a passing observation regarding Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni, who now doubles as the chairman of APC Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Committee.

But I had to change course because this has more currency and impact on each of us Nigerians and the country as an entity. The APC is the ruling party and whatever affects it affects not only us but the continent of Africa.

The APC came into being after the merger of four legacy parties on February 6, 2013. The major parties were the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), along with a faction of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

And true to the definition of a political party as “a group of persons organized to gain and exercise political power”, it rode on Nigerians’ desire for change having been disenchanted with happenings then and how the country was slowly but surely becoming an effluvium.

Corruption was so endemic and impunity was the order of the day. Political leaders were becoming unbearable burdens on the populace. But worse was that the Boko Haram insurgents were having a field day with our army unable to tame them.

The APC fielded President Muhammadu Buhari, a man with an unprecedented political following and an assured twelve million votes. He had the reputation of an ascetic, a man of integrity, with a well-known abhorrence for corruption.

The Nigerian situation was bordering on the hopeless, and we believed he would rekindle hope in a nation at its wit’s end.

There was a sigh of relief by most Nigerians when incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan first congratulated Buhari even before the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, announced him as the winner of the presidential election. Everybody expected a change from all the things that were drawing us back as a nation and threatening our unity and corporate existence.

That Nigeria is yet to witness the hoped-for change has befuddled many of its citizens.

But the answer may not be farfetched. President Buhari came to power through a political platform. In an ideal democracy, parties have manifestoes in which promises made are encapsulated. The values and programmes enunciated in the manifesto guide any democratic government in power in its conduct. And in our current setting, as president, which makes him the leader of his party, he can influence and achieve a lot through personal example.

However, if a party cannot stick to its core values and instead of shepherding its elected and appointed members to implement what it promised the people, then it has failed as an agent of change and development. On top of failing to monitor its members in discharging their responsibilities, worse is when senior members carve fiefdoms and spheres of influence for themselves for pecuniary gains or with an eye for the next election, or both. Though a party too may be hampered if a chief executive of government also assumes its leadership, this is a topic for another day.

This is exactly what the APC became, unfortunately, for itself and the country it rules. Its leaders sacrificed national interest on the altar of self-first. That may be one major reason President Muhammadu Buhari was not delivering as expected.

And Adams Oshiomhole could not rein in his tongue, which always uttered whatever crossed his mind. With his background as a labour unionist used to shouting for attention and relevance, he saw the position of national chairman of a ruling party as a Magna Carta for mandibular walkabouts. He abused whoever crossed his path, forgave those who ‘reasoned’ with him no matter the gravity of their crimes against the state and practised playing God with people’s fate.

By the time the rug was pulled from under his feet, a party with 27 governors when he became its chairman on June 23, 2018, was fighting tooth and nail to hold on to its remaining 19. That the party has this number is also because, as everyone saw, it employed federal might to keep some of them.

Would the APC have fared better with Governor Mala Buni as a major influencer? I think so. On July 23, 2018, in my write-up on this page entitled Buhari Campaign Team, APC and 2018, I said, “…the good thing about the APC combination of Oshiomhole as chairman and Mala Buni as national secretary is that while the chairman is assertive, even brash, the national secretary is suave, calm, subtle and diplomatic. The duo is a good combo. Many who receive, or think they are about to receive, the chairman’s stick will run to the secretary for cover. Of course, he will offer them a listening ear, but will gently push them to do what they expected of them. That way the party will be the better for it.

“This is like the story of the method of American police officers I read a long time ago. They meet an accused in pairs. The first promises hell, spewing forth thunder and brimstone. Naturally, the accused is frightened but may not give in or confess. Then the second comes in, in a very understanding, even sympathetic, manner, exuding the aura of a saviour. The accused feels obliged to give in to the ‘soft and kind-hearted’ man ‘who shouldn’t be a police officer at all’. The result matters.”

However, the duty to serve his state as the governor called on Mala Buni and he went to answer it.

It is against this backdrop that one can say with the appointment of Mala Buni to steer its course as a caretaker chairman, perhaps APC’s trajectory would swerve away from the brink, and like the phoenix, it is fated to rise again.

What people will witness is the calmness that would soon envelop the ruling party, for the new chairman is a man who, by all means, avoids friction and rancour. No two contending parties will sit with him and one of them would come out grumbling because he so much believes in fairness and that justice cannot be for one side alone. He is one person who believes in building bridges and maintaining them. And he echoed this after his swearing-in when he said “… it’s all about doing justice to every member of the party. Without justice, there won’t be peace… if you don’t manage crisis, obviously crisis will manage you.” And he did not say these words on marble to get applause. No, that is the real him.

Even before his current appointment, the trust the president and other stakeholders had in him had made him a sort of arbiter for the party, quenching fires here and there and taking part in campaigns for the enhancement of the party’s electoral successes around the country.

Those who know him well know he is cultured. So, the era of insults, roforofo fights and spewing forth unguarded statements is over. You will never hear him abuse any person in the opposition or within his party even if that person insults him. And when any good that is meant for his avowed enemy is about to escape from his grasp, he would be the first person to force it back to its rightful owner. This is the extent of his fairness. He is a thoroughbred politician, broad-minded, cosmopolitan but at ease with the locals and local settings, humble and extremely intelligent.

The opposition parties will no longer be full of glee nor will they sleep again, for by the time he would be through with his assignment, they would rue their premature celebration that the ruling party is gone. They are up against a focused, suave and sagacious dyed-in-the-wool politician. And as they will soon find out, like the mother hen, he would unite and cover his party while successfully poaching from theirs.

He has a gigantic task though. He would have to work on restoring people’s confidence and trust in the government. Distrust in government is a global issue as warned by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in September two years ago while addressing the UN General Assembly. He said that the world is “suffering from a severe case of trust deficit disorder”.

He lamented that “trust is at a breaking point: trust in national institutions; trust among states; trust in the rules-based global order. Within countries, people are losing faith in political establishments, polarization is on the rise and populism is on the march.”

This means that apart from reconciling disparate forces and conflicted individuals, and repositioning for a greater tomorrow, the party has to be at the vanguard of ensuring that the government works towards achieving what it promised the electorate; at least, most of the major ones.

Some may fear that his new national assignment could distract his governance of Yobe, but they need not worry. What is of importance is that he had already formed a good cabinet and given each member the maximum backing to deliver. His policies and emerging achievements at the state will only get a boost as he has a firm foothold in both Damaturu and Abuja.

  • To survive, the opposition parties have to get new chairmen that can match him. The current ones can’t.


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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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Opinion

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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