By Sufuyan Ojeifo and Louis Achi
According to Alan Stewart Paton, South African author and anti-apartheid fighter, it is not “forgive and forget” as if nothing wrong had ever happened, but “forgive and go forward,” building on the mistakes of the past and the energy generated by reconciliation to create a new future.
Unquestionably, Yobe State governor and Acting Chairman of the Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Honourable Mai Mala Buni, has spoken to both party and national anxiety.
He has spoken to intra-party fears and allayed those fears as well as assuaged the associated anxiety. He has adroitly nurtured reconciliation with the APC. This, obviously, is his forte.
Undeniably, fears and anxiety have been aplenty within the APC. It must also be genuinely acknowledged that the implicit trust and total support of President Muhammadu Buhari have immeasurably contributed to the effectiveness of the Governor Mai Mala Buni in acquitting his mandate.
Not unlike the venerable Dalai Lama, Governor Mala Buni genuinely remains convinced that most human and party conflicts can be solved through genuine dialogue conducted with a spirit of openness and reconciliation.
For him, this philosophy has largely worked in resolving the differences that threaten the ruling party.
This is particularly important because the ruling APC must not and cannot conceivably go into a National Convention – and indeed a general election in crisis. Hence Governor Buni’s untiring efforts to cobble inclusive peace must be appreciated and commended.
The reconciliation committee he set up has recorded notable successes and has been constantly briefing the President, Chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum, Senate President and Speaker, House of Representatives, with a mid-term report which will enable the committee to take all-inclusive decisions.
With the subsisting stability he has nurtured, the APC could be said to have been justified by the constitution of Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, which should be given all support to achieve its mandates.
“I am a team player. I have a capable team that can work with me. If you don’t manage crisis, obviously crisis will manage you; so I won’t allow any crisis to fester henceforth,” Buni had told newsmen shortly after he assumed the new party responsibility.
He had clarified that: “My plans for the party, as a former two-time national secretary of the party, I know the party very well.
It’s all about doing justice to every member of the party because without justice there won’t be peace and it is all about team play.” Clearly, he has played by his pledge and still maintaining the course.
Today, many take it for granted that the caretaker committee under the leadership of Governor Buni has retrieved the party from the abyss and made it stronger and more appealing.
As a circumspect politician and strategist, Buni set sail by first objectively confronting all the grievances that had spawned crises in the APC.
Beyond resolving most of the conflicts in the ruling party, he significantly gained the confidence of all key stakeholders who trusted his political skills, open-mindedness, and crisis resolution nous.
The astounding result he delivered prompted APC and its stakeholders to give him the green light to maintain course and conclude his crucial assignment.
The recent concerns about the legality of the leadership of Gov. Buni, following the Supreme Court ruling on Ondo election, has been clarified and the books show, there is no legal implications for the party, as Buni continues to nurture and strengthen the party.
It was then not surprising that the APC Progressives Governors Forum passed a vote of confidence in the Gov. Buni-led National Caretaker Committee and the positives his assignment has recorded.
In February, the party’ caretaker leadership conducted party membership revalidation and registration successfully across the country.
The all-important exercise was smooth and showed how appealing the party is becoming to Nigerians. New members registered and those who were already members of the party renewed their membership.
The Mai Mala Buni-led caretaker committee did not start this project until after wider consultations – especially with all the party stakeholders.
Every activity carried out by the caretaker committee towards restoring the party had the buy-in of all party stakeholders and was backed by the rules and regulations of the party. This reflects uncommon focus.
Many forget that even before commencing his current assignment, Mala Buni traversed Nigeria and engaged all the party’s key stakeholders.
This is real commitment and maturity. During one of such visits in July 2020, one of the key APC chieftains, Chief Bisi Akande, while receiving Buni’s caretaker committee, at his country home, expressed confidence and support to the committee and the work it is doing to reconcile and address all outstanding party grievances.
Chief Akande was also quoted to have stated that: “There is great hope in what I have seen in this committee; the party will certainly bounce back stronger.
I will continue to leave myself open and with a call on other stakeholders to cooperate and support the committee (caretaker) to succeed.” This has turned out to be simply prophetic.
Contrary to what detractors are bandying, every step the Buni-led caretaker committee is taking is constitutional – including the membership registration and validation exercise, as well as the just-concluded congresses.
All actions of the caretaker committee were approved by the party’s highest decision-making body; the National Executive Committee (NEC).
Every step taken by the Governor Buni-led caretaker committee received support of all the party’s stakeholders.
When the ruling party was almost buckling under crises, many state chapters of the party were also contending with internal wrangling detrimental to the party and its future.
Through consultations and engaging with diverse stakeholders, Governor Buni was able to resolve crises in more than 12 states and reconciliation is a continuous exercise to ensure that the party mends all fences.
A typically proactive thinker, early this month, Gov. Mai Mala Buni announced the APC has instituted internal mechanisms to address differences and grievances that may arise from its just-concluded nationwide local government congresses, in a statement in Abuja.
Buni maintained the party’s doors of reconciliation were always open to its members and counseled party members to take advantage of the open doors of reconciliation to build a strong and united APC, assuring of transparency, justice and fairness to anybody or group of persons with complaints that were forwarded to it.
Read him: “We should therefore explore and exploit the opportunities available to settle all differences. I am highly elated that we are progressing at every stage of the congress.
“l am optimistic that the party will at the end of the congresses, produce a generally acceptable and credible leadership that will build on the successes recorded for a strong, united and a winning APC.”
He lauded the party’s members, stakeholders, candidates and their supporters for the peaceful and rancour-free exercise. “You have done the party proud and remain a role model to other political parties,” an elated Buni said.
As evidence-based facts on the turn-around Governor Mai Mala Buni has recorded for his party are writ large, it can only be plaudits for APC’s intrepid mediator and chief reconciliator, who, together with members of his interim leadership team, gets ready to, sooner or later, take a graceful bow after he must have handed over to a substantive leadership of the party preparatory to the 2023 general elections.
▪︎Messrs Ojeifo and Achi contributed this piece from Abuja.