By Abdul-Rauf Musa
Statesmen everywhere are subject to success stories not only politically but in terms of superb management of men and resources. Often it is their excellence at managing multi-tasking endeavors that make them unique, conscientious and distinctive.
Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, who also doubles as the Acting National Chairman, Caretaker Committee of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) definitely belongs to these special class of transformational leaders whose style tend to use rapport, inspiration, or empathy to engage and motivate community to understand and be integral units in society development.
When APC teeters towards disintegration, the founding leaders entrusted him to steer the ruling party to stability. They reasoned that Mai Mala Buni’s management qualities entail seeking out opportunities to heal, repair, and transform the party. On assumption of duty as Ag chairman he commenced steps towards nipping in the bud the controversy over which of the geo-political zones will produce the next presidential candidate of the ruling party.
Critical to Mala Buni’s leadership both at APC and Yobe are transparency and relational trust building. The creation of an honest and fair entry plan helps with transparency, both — Yobeans and APC members are getting to know what he is doing and why — he is focusing on activities that build trust as a key, especially as trust is understandably low in a nation where the institutions have done some wrong.
He opened communication with several chieftains of the main opposition party, who have since promised to swell the rank of the ruling party and has successfully achieved reconciliation in eleven of its states chapters amongst aggrieved camps within the APC.
Counting the committee’s success so far, Buni said, “You will all recall the ugly and unfortunate incidents that bedeviled our party which threatened its existence and resulted in the dissolution of the National Working Committee and the emergence of the Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Committee, which I am opportune to chair. I am glad to state that the committee upon assumption of office engaged in genuine reconciliation to rebuild people’s confidence, trust and hope in the party.
“Let me say with all sense of appreciation and fulfillment that the committee had in the last three months reconciled life-threatening challenges for the party in 11 states across the country. We proudly parade political heavyweights like the former Speaker of the House of Representatives Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Former PDP National Chairman, Senator Barnabas Gemade, several members of the National Assembly, Chief Jimoh Ibrahim, former Head of Service of the Federation, Mr Danladi Kifasi, Sen. Isa Hamma Misau, Alhaji Salisu Takai and several others while many others have also indicated interests to join the party.
“This was possible with the support the committee enjoys from stakeholders, as we continue to move the party away from unnecessary wrangling, squabbles and disputes.”
The sterling leadership qualities he exhibited have not only minimized the simmering cracks in the party, but also spur developmental strides in Yobe state. Since assuming office as the executive governor, it has been projects approvals or flagging off of projects for the construction of township roads and drainages. This is part of his urban and rural development plan that will enhance movement and promote economic development.
Governor Buni began his eventful journey as Yobe’s chief executive on the crest of a stellar foundational underpinning laid by former Governor Ibrahim Gaidam.
Key issues that affect the wellbeing and welfare of the people of the state are those that redound Mala Buni’s commitment by taking every measure necessary to improve the people’s living conditions.
In just one State Executive Council meeting, Buni spearheaded the approval of 9 projects that would re-modernize Yobe and alleviate some challenges being faced by rural dwellers across the 17 local government areas.
These projects include:
1. Ratification of N315 million for the provision of 14 SOCOOL 4X4 Diesel Vehicles to the State Roads Traffic Agency (YOROTA) – This important agency created by Mai Mala Buni is aimed at checkmating and reducing road and traffic issues in the state.
2. N582, 939, 420.91 for the construction of 2.6 km flexible pavement road and 5.2km rectangular reinforced concrete drainage in Potiskum
3. Council also ratified the sum of N863, 927, 506.76 for the construction of 3.2km and 6.4km rectangular reinforced drainage at Nguru Town.
4. The sum of N593, 098, 473.71 was also ratified for the construction of 2.0km road and 4.0km drainage at Gashu’a.
5. Another N550, 451, 659.07 was approved for a similar project in Gaidam, namely 2.0km flexible pavement road and 4.0km concrete drains.
6. The Council also ratified N930, 766, 924.81 for the construction of 5.3km road to link Potiskum Dual Carriageway to Gujba Dual Carriageway in Damaturu metropolis.
7. To compensate owners of property acquired for the construction of the Nguru Modern Market, the sum of N298, 303, 485.50 was ratified by the Council.
8. Council also ratified the sum of N2, 880, 091, 770.34 for the construction of the Phase 1 of the Potiskum Truck Transit Park.
9. Also ratified is the sum of N2, 614, 454, 200.00 for the construction of the Nguru Modern Market; N195, 831, 900.00 for compensation of property owners used for the construction of the Potiskum Modern Market; and N370, 387, 488.00 for the connection of eight MDAs to the State Integrated Financial Management Information System (SIFMIS).
To ensure value for money for the people of Yobe state, Governor Buni emphasized that contractors will be held to account in terms of standard and timely delivery; “Let me use this opportunity to remind the contractors that there must be value for money in this project. You are advised to abide by the contractual terms and agreements to ensure quality work and timely completion of the project. Government would not accept any form of sub-standard work.”
Right from the beginning of his administration, Mala Buni has been emphasizing the provision of infrastructure; which is key to social and economic growth.
Across Yobe’s major towns and urban centers, people used to watch helplessly as their streets – and neighbourhoods – regularly sink under flood waters during rainy seasons. For many, the rainy season is paradoxically a tipping point between the prospects and joys of a return to the farms and the specter of inconvenience and even health challenges caused by flooded streets.
For the people of Buni-Yadi, Babbangida, Damagum and Jajimaji towns in Gujba, Tarmuwa, Fune, and Karasuwa local government areas of the state respectively, however, the story is different this time around.
He harps for more projects to be carried out in the areas of water, rural and urban electricity and sanitation. Roads and drainages hold a special place in infrastructural development of Yobe state. The vision of Governor Mai Mala Buni is to accelerate rural and urban development through the provision of critical infrastructure.
Already the following projects have been completed:
1. Township roads and concrete drainages in Damagum, Fune LGA
2. Township roads and concrete drainages in Buni Yadi, Gujba LGA
3. Township roads and concrete drainages in Malammatari of Damaturu.
4. Township roads and concrete drainages in Jajimaji, Karasuwa LGA
5. Township roads and concrete drainages in Babban gida, Tarmuwa LGA.
As peace continues to return to the state and more people visit the capital for business and work, Mala Buni’s led State Executive Council reckoned that in order to boost economic activities and improve internally generated revenue, GAAT Hotel, Damaturu be leased for ten years, and a property belonging to the Yobe State Government at Cadastral Zone Abuja be sold out, the proceeds of both the lease and the sale of the Abuja property be used to build the mall that would enhance the economic development of the state.
For the lease, the partner will inject capital to finance renovation, remodeling, upgrade and professional management of the hotel. The lease also provides for a profit-sharing arrangement of 65 percent for Softcloud Ltd and 35 percent for the state government for the first five years of the agreement. During the second five years, the profit-sharing ratio will be 60 percent for the lease partner and 40 percent for the state government.
The Yobe State Government continues to own GAAT Hotel and, at the end of the ten-year lease period, will determine whether to take back full ownership or extend the lease agreement for another period of time.
For sale of the Abuja property, the exco considered all observations made about maintenance of the property, the cost of renovating it and putting it to good use if the government were to continue to own it, etc.
More projects such as Damaturu Modern Market project and Damaturu International Cargo Airport have received utmost attention from the government of Mala Buni.
For youth development, Mai Mala approved a workshop in Damaturu under the theme “Building a Strong Social Media Presence in an Age of Attention Deficit”. Forty youths across the three senatorial districts of the state participated in the ‘Batch A’ of the training. More youths will participate in subsequent training sessions to be organized in future.
As a modern leader who values effective communications for efficient management of manpower and resources of Yobe state, Buni’s administration made a milestone in the long march toward retooling and repositioning Yobe’s broadcast media sector. This is apart from appointing an erudite and well-tested media guru as his commissioner of information, Malam Abdallah Bego, a consummate journalist, cosmopolitan in outlook, and an excellent human being whose expertise in media managements, digital communications spanned many decades.
Over many years, the State Television Service (YTV) and Radio Service (YBC) have both atrophied due to many factors, including aged and out-of-date equipment, lack of servicing and replenishment of equipment, and lack of continuous staff training, amongst others.
YTV and YBC now enjoy unprecedentedly robust moments of renewal as a result of the support of Governor Buni, the longstanding era of decline and degeneration is steadily being painted over.
This is apart from the conversion of ‘casual’ staff at YTV and YBC to full-time government employees, resolving a decade and a half-long period in which the affected staff did not have the security and certainty of confirmed monthly paycheck.
Indeed, Mala Buni is committed to ensuring that YTV also goes digital in the coming period through investments in new and latest broadcast technologies, including capacity to be available on free-to-air satellite channels.
Despite lean resources and the COVID-19 challenges, Yobe State under Mai Mala Buni continues to record remarkable and measurable progress, such as in building new roads, markets, housing estates, hospitals and healthcare centres, construction and rehabilitation of water supply and sanitation facilities, and providing support to farmers, amongst others.
His greatest consolation has always been: “History will be kind to us if we all continue to work together and achieve success together as a team.”
Indeed, Mai Mala Buni has brave the odds, by sync two distinct engagements — providing quality leadership by stabilizing the once-troubled party heading for disintegrations and also to a constitutional mandate given to him by Yobeans in terms of providing dividends of democracy to even the remotest parts of the state. Kudos to the gentleman and achiever, more power to the elbows of Mai Mala Buni.