To Buni, a quintessential bridge-builder @ 54


If it were a fairy tale, his story would have started with “once upon a time, in the not so sleepy village of Buni Gari, a child of destiny was born to the industrious family of Alhaji Bukar and Hajiya Khadija.”

His story is stuff fit for legends. Hardly do you find a human being like Governor Mai Mala Buni, blessed with power and wealth, the two most sought-after possessions, yet imbued with humility, generosity, grace and the unquenchable desire to not only serve others but empower them as well.

When Mai Mala Buni was born on November 19, 1967, some 54 years ago, little did those around Hajiya Khadijah, his mother, know they ushered into this world a child who will steer his young state towards development while stabilising his country’s polity and helping to save it from unravelling.

But what is in a date? As with many things that only God knows why, 19th November eventually became International Men’s Day, observed by over 57 countries, to celebrate man and his sacrifice to build a family and a nation, with its liturgical colour as blue, one of his favourite colours.

His late father, Alhaji Bukar, a successful business owner and very knowledgeable in the ways of the Qur’an, who came from a family that currently boasts of over fifty huffaz (huffaz is the plural of hafiz and a hafiz is one who has memorised the Qur’an), however might have had an inkling of what God had given him. And it could be why he named him after the most respected traditional ruler of their area. He educated him in both western and Islamic education and thought him to be altruistic, humble, and generous.

When his above-average intelligence son was admitted into Government Secondary School, Goniri, he bought a brand-new tipper truck, got a driver and branched off into the business of supplying sands to construction sites. But he did that specifically so that his child will not lack in an era when a simple letter or message took an interminable period to reach the receiver. And so he based it in the town and instructed those he put in charge of the truck to give young Buni five naira every week from the proceeds. And as encouraged by his father, he became a source of succour to his schoolmates, taking care of their basic needs with his words becoming bankable, according to his childhood friends and associates.

Plato, the Athenian philosopher, might be referring to his type when he said, “The highest form of knowledge is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another world.”

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