By Abdullahi O. Haruna Haruspice
Like the lake, quiet in solitude, Mai Mala Buni the governor of Yobe State who doubles as the Chairman Caretaker Committee of the All Progressives Congress APC exhibited what would eventually become a plausible reference guide for political leadership, especially when faced with tumultuous pressure. Last week saw the nation enveloped in a melodrama that left political players and onlookers bemused and flummoxed. It started with a commando-like entry of the governor of Niger State Abubakar Sani Bello into the APC secretariat located at the Blantyre street in Wuse, Abuja, the nation’s capital. It was a scene that sends a chill down the spine of everyone as fierce-looking and battled ready security goons took strategic positions in the event of a breakdown of law and order. Those security guards would decapitate batteries of bandits and boko haram terrorists if deployed to troubled spots in northern Nigeria, they were really battle ready!
Uncertainty hung ominously in the political cloud as pundits, party faithful, pen pushers and stakeholders swim in the rivers of speculation. No one knew what the issues were as accusations and counter-accusations flew around in fierce rapidity. The Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello who was the face of the apprehension heightened the palpable tension as he maintained a deadly silence. Nothing he uttered solved the riddle as the fate of the ruling party hung dangerously in the belly of unsureness. The party was divided into two camps with those brewing in belligerent furnace calling for the head of Mai Mala Buni and those for him standing in stoic posture -giving all the support base they could muster.
It got to a frightening crescendo when the governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai went on national television to bath Buni in the showers of unprintable ink. It was what late Anikulapo Kuti would call ‘roforofo’ fight. The governor of Ondo, Chief Rotimi Akeredolu added petrol to the raging inferno when he referred to some of the governors under the APC as ‘Yahoo Yahoo’ governors – a development those living in the house of morality described as sacrilege, strange and uncalled for. Last week in the life of the APC was indeed a history of shame, uncertainty and drama. To say the party didn’t swim in the gutter of shame is to be kind to embarrassment.
It’s not too often that we can legitimately associate leaders with anything civility but in this modern age, it is expected that our leaders should be moral mirrors of reflection — high or low — the scenario in the APC in the last few days was a messy bundle of psychological contradictions, self-deception, and self-destructive inclinations, we are somehow grateful that president Muhammadu Buhari rose to the occasion and provided that compass that is moral sounding board.
While the belligerent camp brew in brim and fire, Mai Mallam Buni appeared calm, unmoved and unfazed. In the whole of the hullabaloo, neither he nor his handlers came out to say anything. Indeed, Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. He won the game by literally saying nothing while the storm rages. He is what the Greek Philosopher, Marcus Aurelius would describe as taciturn and shrewd who rarely talks but always winning.
Buni embodied the stoicism of Aurelius to navigate the monstrous terrain of political struggle. His survival is laced to one thing; discipline of mind, keeping your calm even in the face of rage. Professor Attahiru Jega is a legendary reference of unfazed leaders- how he saved the nation from the brink of upheaval in 2015 during the collation and announcement of the results of the presidential election when Godswill Orubebe tried to undermine the process – same with President Muhammadu Buhari who in seven years as president never for once showed vexed emotions even in the face of choking provocations. Buni has joined the emotional stable leaders who sulk inside but won’t wail outside.
Clothed in the garment of silence, he has increased the electoral fortune of the APC with his shuttle diplomacy of harvesting more governors and political bigwigs into the APC. While we applaud his taciturn acumen and self-restraint approach to leadership, the Yobe man should demonstrate and justify the reason President Muhammadu Buhari chose him amongst many to steer the affairs of the party. The task ahead must be delivered squarely even as he holds ace to the last laughs.
Abdullahi O. Haruna Haruspice writes from Abuja