By Emmanuel Ado
“Victory belongs to the most persevering”
Mai Mala Buni, governor of Yobe State and former Chairman of the All Progressives Congress Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (APC-CECPC), and his co- travelers, has an assured place in history books for spending almost two years -June 25th, 2020 to March 26th, 2022- to organize a “common” convention, to elect officials to run the affairs of the party.
But for the timely intervention of the president and the Nasir El-Rufai-led G19, Buni, who had perfected the act of convention postponements, would have most certainly instigated another postponement, towards achieving his own personal ambition.
The court injunction by Justice Bello Kawu of the Abuja High Court stopping the convention until the determination of the substantive matter, the blunt refusal to swear-in elected state chairmen of the party months after their election, and the refusal to set up the various committees required to deliver the convention, were solid proofs of Buni’s resolve to sit tight. By the way, the injunction was to be served on the party on the eve of the convention, when it would have been impossible to vacate it.
With the emergence of elected party officials, the people of Yobe State, long denied good governance, and committed party faithfuls, rightly worried about the destructive directions Buni was leading the party, are naturally ecstatic that the convention finally held.
Meanwhile, it still beats imagination, why the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) wanted the APC convention to fail. Was it that the PDP was planning its 2023 campaign on the failure of the APC, rather than on issues? Nigeria needs two strong political parties that will keep themselves in check. Nigeria, cannot afford a one-party system, that will make accountability difficult.
The APC, would forever be thankful to El-Rufai, for his several interventions. Ever perspective and alert to responsibility, it was El-Rufai, as Chairman of the Accreditation Committee, that alerted the party to the danger of political office holders participating in the convention, considering the controversy surrounding the amended Electoral Act.
Thankfully, the party members listened to him; otherwise, the APC would have ended up being disqualified from fielding candidates,if the courts declared the convention as improperly conducted.
That the convention eventually held, and successfully too, was because some men of integrity stood up to be counted at a very crucial moment in the life of the party. They deserve the commendation of all Nigerians.
First is El-Rufai, the cerebral governor of Kaduna state. He deserves a badge of honour for ensuring that the convention held, despite efforts by the forces of retrogression to scuttle it. He shouldered personal attacks, outright falsehoods unleashed against him, sponsored attacks and, betrayal by some of his colleagues, who adopted a “siddon look” attitude when the Buni group was running riot.
Another warrior that deserves special mention, is Rotimi Akeredolu SAN, the governor of Ondo State. While the other members of the APC Governors Forum were missing in action, he stood up to be counted. He spoke up in support of El-Rufai, who was mandated by the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), the platform of APC governors, to announce the far-reaching decisions reached at their meeting.
Why Atiku Bagudu, the Chairman of the PGF, did not deem it necessary to publicly back El-Rufai and Akeredolu remains a mystery. Had Bagudu and other governors spoken up at the crucial time, it would have tremendously helped in correcting the falsehoods against El- Rufai and the Buni group would have been denied the oxygen for its demonization of El-Rufai.
Thankfully El- Rufai is used to fighting alone. Once convinced as to the correctness of his course of action, he fights on. Those who “hate” El-Rufai, are exercising their rights, but they certainly must concede to his power of analysis and deep insight.
In 2018, El- Rufai had vigorously canvassed for the retention of John Oyegun, the chairman that led the party to resounding victory in 2015 for another term of office. In fact, El-Rufai warned of dire consequences for the party, if Oyegun was removed as National Chairman, considering his stabilizing influence.
El-Rufai was proved right, as under Adams Oshiomhole, the party suffered several defeats, losing Zamfara and Rivers states, in the 2019 elections because Oshiomhole, couldn’t conduct credible primaries. Oshiomhole, who saw himself as the Chief Executive Officer of the APC, failed to lead by consensus.
El-Rufai, doesn’t flow with the crowd, or sacrifice principles for political exigencies. He is not your usual politician, a testimony to convictions and a formidable opponent, like the Buni group belatedly found out. Rather than cut a deal with Buni, he insisted on the party holding the convention.
Thankfully the convention has, against all odds, held and the party is finally in the hands of elected officials. That was what the El-Rufai G19 wanted. Nasir El-Rufai and the G19 deserve a pat on the back for ensuring that the Buni group didn’t postpone the convention again.
Buni’s conduct has once again underlined the peril of taking at face value the quiet, seemingly unambitious man and automatically seeing in him a neutral fellow that all sides can trust. Some quiet fellows are capable of intrigues that would never cross the minds of their more voluble colleagues.