“In a statement on 21 February, 2022 Salihu Lukman pointedly accused Governor Mai Mala Buni of working to stall the holding of the national convention so that he (Buni) could preside over the Presidential primary and, ostensibly, work for his emergence as Presidential running mate. The former Director –General disclosed that three other state governors, namely, Yahaya Bello, Hope Uzodimma and Dapo Abiodun, were working in cahoots with him on the hidden agenda of postponing the convention till it holds alongside the Presidential primary. While noting that as a result of their machinations, “other members of the CECPC had been reduced to observers because meetings hardly take place, and even when they hold, decisions are seldom implemented.” – Dr Salihu Lukman was former Director – General, Progressive Governors Forum.
Any keen follower of this column, especially in the last two months, must have been at his or her wits end, wondering if this writer has not tanked out mentally, the way he has been writing on almost nothing besides the shenanigans of the Buni – led CECPC which had merely sat pretty on its buttocks, doing nothing in preparation for the party’s severally postponed convention but instead, in a serpentine move, allegedly inspired a court decision banning the holding of the convention. The court decision, according to Governor Sani Bello of Niger state, and the new CECPC Acting Chairman, was to have been dropped on the party like an atomic bomb, a few days before the scheduled date when it would have been practically impossible to have it vacated.
One of these days, somebody will have the temerity to tell Nigerians how the governor of a state, being daily traumatised by an unremitting insurgency, was considered the right person to rebuild a party riven down the middle as a result of the consequences of the sack of its erstwhile Chairman, Adam Oshiomhole, though in far less ignominious circumstances than Buni’s, whose name, and that of his lickspittle, John James Akpanudoedehe, have allegedly been swept clean off everything concerning the party’s convention which they had hitherto treated like it was their personal property.
In a rapid fire fashion between the short period spanning January 16 – 20 February 2022, I wrote the following articles, highlighting how Governor Mai Mala Buni and his cabal, both within, and without the CECPC, had upturned its prescribed responsibilities and, instead, went on a frolic of their own, adding extraneous tasks just so they can sit tight in office. Not even INEC’s release of the 2023 election cycle, and other programmes, was sufficient to rouse them from their self – inflicted lethargy.
Governor Buni was, no doubt, enjoying his holiday away from a tormented Yobe state even though the elected governor, even as his colleague, Governor Zulum of nearby Sokoto state, was busy, daily confronting the ravages of insecurity.
Had Governor Buni’s self- centered activities gone unchecked, they could, very well, have eventuated in grave consequences for the APC ahead of the coming elections.
And he would not have had to re- invent the wheel. After all, according to Ex-Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, some Northern PDP governors – and this is believed to have included a Chairman – were alleged to have worked against the interests of the PDP during the 2015 election. And should care not be taken even now, the same thing could happen in the APC in 2023, if a Southern candidate emerges who the North is not comfortable with, since the overriding concern of some people has always been that power must remain permanently in the North.
Vigilance, therefore, is a sine qua non, if internal treachery within the APC is to be nipped in the bud.
The articles referred to above are, in their order of publication, as follows:
Enroute 2023 APC Must Try Everything Not To Self-Immolate (16 January, 2022)
At Long Last President Buhari Aborts CECPC’S Chicanery(23 January, 2022)
Is APC Unravelling? (6 February, 2022) and,
APC: Is CECPC Working Towards an Inconclusive Convention? (20 February, 2022)
They all detailed how Governor Buni was inexorably, and perhaps deliberately, working towards the party’s unravelling once his group saw the futility of all their efforts to retain the presidency in the North, which appears to be CECPC’s primary raison detre; or why choose a Northerner to replace Oshiomhole when the party’s chairman has always, (traditionally) come from the South – Chiefs Bisi Akande, Odigie Oyegun, and Comrade Adam Oshiomhole.
Those using the CECPC for their own ends, especially its acting Chairman, merely took undue advantage of the fact that all the members have elective or political appointments and, unlike Buni did not consider it a joke abandoning their jobs to come and sit down permanently in Abuja. Of the 12 or so members, it was only the full time governor of a state under siege, and his Secretary, who could afford such luxury now for over 20 months.
The result was that the chairman torpedoed the critical primary functions of the CECPC which were to conduct the convention within 6 months, as well as settle the bickering in many of the party’s state chapters. While Governor Buni did practically nothing to advance conduct of the convention, he did everything to further splinter relationship within the branches.
What they did first was to add unnecessary tasks to the CECPC’s prescribed agenda.
That done, they began to pair some Northern politicians, as presidential candidates, with their putative Vice Presidents from the Southwest. This went on for a considerable length of time until they saw that the idea of a Vice President did not resonate with people in the Southwest who, as co and equal founders of APC, bringing into it the highest number of state governors through the ACN, believed that after 8 years of President Muhammadu Buhari, the presidency should, for purposes of equity, go to the south.
Buni and co, therefore, balked and began to hawk the presidency to opposition politicians all over the Southeast and the Southsouth. There they succeeded beyond their wildest imagination, and today, as promised, the two PDP state governors they succeeded in prising away from their party have since declared interest in contesting the presidency in 2023.
Governor Buni’s selfish interests, for which he went to all this trouble went on apace and after three term extensions by the President, WhatsApp aficionados, like me, must have seen several posts of Governor Buni being paired, either as Presidential candidate, or Vice, not just with the incumbent VP, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, but also with former President Goodluck Jonathan and CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele.
Governor Mai Mala Buni has deployed several feints and decoys, just to remain in office to conduct the APC Presidential primaries. Among them is creating additional problems in troubled states like Kano to which the CECPC sent two different teams to monitor the state Congress and in Zamfara where, given how the state lost all in 2019, any rational party leader should have realised that you can only mess up either of former Governor AbubakarYari or Senator Kabir Marafa to the detriment of the party.
That is a state to which Governor Buni ran to start wooing a thoroughly unsettled Governor Mata wale who has not been able to effectively handle the insurgency which has made the state its very bastion in the country.
Left to Governor Buni, he would turn settlement of differences in the state chapters to such an elastic programme that, to his advantage, should even outlive the Buhari administration.
His multi- pronged personal schemes are those things that has led him to try to outsmart even the President who, once he was out of the country, not only Buni, but the CECPC Secretary, simply refused to do those things the President had ordered done to ensure that the convention holds on 26 March as now scheduled. They were, instead, printing different copies of the President’s approved zoning agreement with one, indeed, not only altering where the Party Secretary should go to, but insultingly gifting it to Akpanudoedehe.
As things stand today, Governor Mai Mala Buni can be likened to a tsetse fly perching delicately on APC’s scrotum. The party must, therefore, know exactly how to handle his case lest it goes down with him.
Some powerful APC lords sowed the wind, we can only hope, and pray, that the party itself does not reap the whirlwind. The party may have to be reminded that opposition parties are waiting, and watching with bated breath.