By Philip Agbese
As the election year approaches, political parties are at their best to reposition for electoral success. However, we must not fail to remember that it hasn’t been all rosy for the country’s two main political parties: The All Progressive Congress and the People’s Democratic Party. It is instructive to state that both parties have had their fair share of political fortunes and misfortunes.
The APC, as it were, was the most hit since it wrestled power from the PDP after 16 years on the throne of governance in the country. It was thus expected that there would be issues regarding appeasing the various interests that brought about the party’s electoral success at the 2015 general elections. And this almost disintegrated the party but for the intervention of a few individuals, who, in my opinion, were divinely placed to rescue the party from the road to Golgotha.
One of such individuals is the governor of Yobe state, Mai Mala Buni, who assumed the position of Caretaker Committee Chairman of the party in June of 2020 in the heat of the leadership crisis that threw the party off the radar completely. I recall that the crisis in the APC at the time had defied all interventions so much that it was concluded that the end had indeed come for the party.
The public space was awash with different analyses on how the APC got it wrong from the onset and how the party would fade into oblivion way before the 2023 elections. All of these postulations were strong because of the facts before us and coupled with the fact that the party’s previous leadership got many things wrong in the buildup and after the 2019 elections, where accusations flew rapidly in the air with regards to the manner members of the party were supposedly treated.
Surprisingly, all of that is now history that I marvelled at what magic wand Governor Mai Mala Buni used in addressing the rancour in the party. Not only that, I also marvelled at how he was able to bring the warring factions to the table to preach the unity of purpose towards charting a new and credible cause for the party’s future.
Today, what has become of the APC is commendable, which I call the Mai Mala Buni magic. If this is not magic, I wonder what to call it. Though funny, it was as if he cast a spell on the teeming party members and stakeholders to sheathe their swords. Whatever be the case, he succeeded, and the party is better for it without any element of doubt.
I believe that one of the things Governor Mai Mala Buni did was to appeal to the party stakeholders’ conscience to see what is at risk if the party does not put its house in order. I suppose he also applied some of the principles of emotional intelligence that occasioned his public conduct and strategic engagements in steering the APC ship out of stormy waters. If not for anything, his conduct since 2020 has been exceptional and must be commended. However, credit must also be given to the members of the caretaker committee, who worked tirelessly in various ways.
The APC should remain eternally grateful to Governor Mai Mala Buni for his leadership strides in turning the party’s fortunes around in record time. It is also to his credit that the party welcomed some governors and other big wigs from the opposition PDP into the APC fold. This is no mean feat and a reason why the APC must not hurry to do away with his counsel even after the party convention slated for some time in February.
It is no mistake to state that it has been daunting for Governor Mai Mala Buni to combine his position as Governor of Yobe State and the caretaker chairman of the APC. I can count the number of persons that could do much in this country. This is also a demonstration of his leadership acumen and unalloyed commitment to the party. Whether we like it or yes, Governor Mai Mala Buni has written his name in gold, and posterity would be kind to him.
The various stakeholders must do good to imbibe lessons learnt from the APC since 2020. I am sure that many APC members had lost hope in the party bouncing back and consequently made plan b towards actualizing their various political ambitions. The PDP wasn’t left out too. They must have also been praying that the crisis persists to their advantage. But Governor Mai Mala Buni disappointed them.
As a stakeholder of the party in my own right, I can feel the exhaustion in Governor Mai Mala Buni; I could also feel his desire to ensure the party remains united as we march towards the 2023 general elections. And if wishes were horses, I would wish that he continues till after the general elections in 2023, which in my opinion, would be a guaranteed electoral success for the party. However, the decision is not mine but that of the party.
The APC owes Governor Mai Mala Buni a great deal of appreciation for his leadership strides in the party that repositioned it and placed it in good stead to go into the elections as a united and formidable political party. This is no less cheering news for the APC. It behoves party members to sustain the tempo even after the party convention.
Those who once lost hope in the party are now very hopeful; those with ulterior motives have repented and returned to the APC fold with renewed vigour toward ensuring the party’s electoral success. That is the new spirit in the APC of today, thanks to the Mai Mala Buni Magic.
I can go on non-stop, but I will instead use this medium to appeal to the teeming APC members to use the occasion of the forthcoming party convention to display their appreciation of the efforts so far in repositioning the party. We must desire that the party comes out stronger after the party convention. We must make a firm commitment towards working for the party’s success at the general elections.
While I also urge Governor Mai Mala Buni not to relent until he delivers a peaceful and rancour-free convention to the party, I wish to remind him that his services are invaluable and most appreciated. And he remains an icon of the APC of all times.
My last word for the APC is to keep Mai Mala Buni very close should anything unexpected happen during or after the convention. Every political party in Nigeria needs the Buni magic in their hour of need.
Agbese is a public affairs analyst and strategist based in the United Kingdom.