APC: Presidential, legislative thumbs up for Buni’s CECPC

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From Adetutu Folasade-Koyi, Abuja

Two weeks to the March 26, 2022 national convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the nation woke up to what was akin to a palace coup in the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) when the Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani-Bello, assumed office as the acting CECPC chairman.

Behind the scenes, there were unconfirmed reports that some APC governors within and outside the committee felt slighted that the CECPC Chairman, Mai Mala Buni, travelled out of the country, on a medical trip to Dubai and did not hand over to one of them on the committee. It was alleged that he handed over to the erstwhile CECPC secretary, Senator John Akpanudoedehe. They felt it was a slight and allegedly told President Muhammadu Buhari that it would not stand. Again, unconfirmed reports indicated that the president has directed that the Niger state governor should take over, go ahead with plans for the national convention, having agreed that the CECPC leadership should step aside.

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Consequently, Governor Sani-Bello took over and conspiracy theorists went to town! With glee, they announced that Buni was ‘finished,’ he would ‘resign at the NEC meeting,’ amid talks, he would ‘not be allowed to convene the national convention’ which held at Eagles Square last Saturday.

Less than a week after, the president ordered that statuesque ante be maintained.

Before then, there were arguments against Buni’s headship of the CECPC, considering the fact that he is the governor of Yobe State and should not have been allowed to head the ad-hoc panel.

And, so, it came to pass that Buni, who maintained stoic silence in the face of great adversity and backstabbing from members and the top hierarchy of the party, returned from his medical trip, and did convene the national convention which held last Saturday, at the Eagles Square, in Abuja.

Many didn’t expect support for Buni from the Presidency or the federal legislature. They believed it was a ‘done deal’ that he had been booted out because he was seen as a cog in the wheel of holding the convention since he was appointed leader of the CECPC in June 2020.

Stunningly, president Buhari, in his speech at the convention, openly commended Buni’s CECPC, with special commendation for the Yobe governor for his service to the party; after months of schemings, twists and turns, which played out in the media.

Said Buhari: “I want to…specially appreciate the CECPC which has been on a rescue mission,  under the leadership of His Excellency, the Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni, for successfully piloting the affairs of the party in the last 18 months and organising this convention to elect a new NWC that will take over from the caretaker committee.

“I am glad the party, under the caretaker committee, has bounced back to life with the reconciliation of several key and critical stakeholders and groups, who had hitherto left the party or were on the verge of leaving the party. The reconciliation process gave the aggrieved stakeholders a true sense of belonging and assurance.

“Recently, l had cause to intervene in the leadership crisis which was about to cause confusion in the party. Such internal disputes are common in young democracies such as ours, but, we must avoid overheating the polity and not allow our differences to tear and frustrate the party.

“…It does not do anybody or the party any good, when we, as leaders, go down so low and resort to backstabbing and calling each other names in the media. We should learn how to resolve our differences without jeopardising our personal relationships and the fate of the party. I want to thank the Progressives Governors’ Forum for heeding to my advice and suggestions in settling the leadership dispute…”

The president’s commendation, notwithstanding, Buni’s CECPC has done something which the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) didn’t do in all of its 16 years in power: bequeathing an edifice owned by the party, to its members.

Before conclusion of its assignment, the CECPC, bought and bequeathed a fully-owned national headquarters to the APC, in the Wuse II area of the Federal Capital Territory. That was no mean feat for a national party that is less than nine years old.

More than that, Buni’s CECPC also holds the record of increasing the party’s membership from 11 million to more than 41 million, as at March 26, 2022.

Besides, the CECPC was able to convince three serving governors from the PDP to join the ruling party and also, pulled into its fold, two former speakers of the House of Representatives (Dimeji Bankole and Yakubu Dogara), a former PDP national chairman and a member of the PDP Board of Trustees, several serving and former senators and members of the House of Representatives and state assemblies, and several other heavyweights cutting across all the geo-political zones of the country.

When it was his turn to address the convention, a grateful Buni reiterated to party members that, under his watch, “the CECPC, has finally and fully settled the balance of payment for the national headquarters. We have taken full ownership of the property. It is named after president Buhari. The national headquarters will henceforth be known and addressed as ‘BUHARI HOUSE.’


For the former CECPC chairman, commendation from the party’s leader would compensate for months of unease, backstabbing, rumour-mongering and harbouring of inordinate 2023 ambition.

The Yobe State governor, at a point, was accused of postponing the national convention because of his ambition to emerge as the vice presidential candidate to a Southern presidential candidate based on the APC’s zoning formula for the 2023 general election.

Whether Buni heard of this allegation or not, he maintained stoic silence, remained his taciturn self, refused to respond and forbade his media aides to refute the allegations.

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However, at the convention ground, he chose to allow the facts speak for themselves and addressed misconceptions about the CECPC.

“As you are aware, the CECPC,  which l was opportune to chair, was a child of circumstance constituted by the National Executive Committee (NEC); to restructure and reposition the party.

“To the glory of God, and with your generous support, we collectively rescued the party and enriched its fortunes. l want to seize this unique opportunity to specially and gratefully appreciate our able and great leader, president Buhari, for his uncommon commitment and leadership style that has guided the committee to record some modest achievements for the party.

“I would also like to appreciate the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo, the NEC, and members of the Progressives Governors Forum for their untiring support and cooperation to ensure that the CECPC succeeded in resuscitating the party…

“However, when we commenced the assignment, we realised that the problems on the ground had far outweighed our estimation of the time required to resolve the huge problems bedeviling the party. This made the initial six months dateline grossly inadequate, unrealistic, and not practicable and therefore, the need for extension of more time. “Happily, for every extension, we brought in additional values with positive developments into the party,” he said, after months of unease, backstabbing, rumour-mongering and alleged harbouring of inordinate ambition.

From the Three Arms Zone, Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, also had kind words for his kinsman.

The Senate president, also from Yobe State, in a congratulatory message to Buni, noted how his fellow Yobeans are proud of his performance while he held sway as the head of CECPC.

In a statement signed by Lawan’s Special Adviser (Media), Ola Awoniyi, the Senate president recalled when “governor Buni was called to the assignment in June 2020, the APC was by all appearances in dire straits.

“The CECPC was principally tasked with resolving disputes that were pushing the party to the edge of the precipice in many states and at the national level, and with organizing congresses and the National Convention that would produce new leaders for the party at all levels.

“Governor Buni and his team have successfully completed those onerous assignments, reset the footings of the party and restored it to the path of greatness.

“Notable achievements of the committee include the reconciliation of aggrieved members, membership registration and revalidation exercise which raised our membership strength to over 41 million, up from 11 million; record high-powered defections into the party, conduct of congresses at ward, local government and state levels and review of our party’s constitution to remove ambiguities and provide the missing lines.

“These are wonderful achievements worthy of commendation by all party faithful. In providing leadership and direction for these accomplishments by the CECPC, His Excellency, governor Buni proved himself a worthy leader.

“We, Yobeans, are extremely proud of our governor for so giving a good account of himself for the period he held sway as the chairman of the CECPC…”Lawan said.

Whether Buni was weighed down by the vice presidential ambition or not, it is to his credit that he remained his taciturn self, refused to respond, reply and even forbade his media aides either but alluded to that in his speech at last Saturday’s convention.

“…it is pertinent to point out that we are conscious of the anxiety among our members for the conduct of the convention to elect substantive national leaders. “We are also aware of the rising interests among individuals and groups especially those with the ambition to aspire in the 2023 general election. This anxiety has, however, translated into some internal wrangling and squabbles recently recorded in the party.

“…Such internal disputes are both normal and common, especially in a growing democracy like ours. “The beauty of such disagreements is the ability and resilience to resolve them and emerge out of them stronger. Once again, l wish to commend Mr. President  for the excellent leadership exhibited in resolving the seeming contention with ease, and without adverse effects on the party and the convention.”

It is to the APC’s credit, however, that a national party has recognised and incorporated diversities in the society with the inclusion of people with disabilities in its party structure.

Buni’s CECPC has done the groundwork and has handed over a register of 41 million members to the Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led NWC to pivot the party’s affairs in the journey to 2023.

The nation waits to see how the new NWC builds on this legacy, going into elections next year.