A Chat with Buni and Random Musings, By Hassan Gimba
I should have come with the second and, most likely, concluding part of the article, “Of banditry and shared sovereignty”, but Nigeria nowadays is a country where incidents, foreseen and unforeseen, are tumbling over each other by the minute, competing for attention in the public space.
One of the burning issues has been the cost of party nomination forms. I can vividly recall President Muhammadu Buhari complaining about their exorbitance in 2015 when the presidential nomination form was N27.5 million, confessing that he had to take a bank loan to purchase it. We need to look at this trend because the highest cost of a presidential nomination form in America, where we borrowed our system from, is about $40,000. That’s less than N24 million. In some states, it could be as low as $1,000, and that is less than N600,000.
Then there is the killing of Deborah Yakubu in Sokoto. It is wrong for anyone to insult what people hold with reverence. The Qur’an forbids Muslims from desecrating what non-Muslims hold sacred; no good Muslim will abuse anybody’s god or prophet.
However, how are such infractions handled in Islam? In the first place, is the punishment death? If it is death, what is the procedure? Or does Islam approve of mob action? If it does not, what does Islam see the killers as and what will be their “reward” from Allah (SWT)? We, as Muslims, need to know all these so that we are properly guided in our faith.
But the whole mess was not spontaneous because Deborah’s voice note was many days old and relevant security agencies and the authorities knew about it. Everyone knew something was boiling, but no one took any action until it reached a boiling point, the point of no return. This encapsulates how our authorities and security outfits work that has sadly brought us to our current sorry state as a nation. When can we practice proactive rather than reactive security strategies?
Another engaging incident is that of some ministers withdrawing from running for elective offices after the president directed them to resign from their current government appointments. When did governance become a joke in Nigeria, for God’s sake? How can a central bank governor want to run for election while still being the country’s chief banker (in whose ‘safe’ custody are the electoral materials)? Or the man in charge of printing sensitive materials, including ballot papers? How can they be actively partisan? What we are witnessing is so sickening that one does not even know whether to cry or laugh. You see, we have been crying over Nigeria with its badly pilloried, seemingly unredeemable tattered image. Do we continue the cry or do we just laugh to preserve our sanity or save our hearts from rupturing out of agony? Sometimes, one wonders where the country is headed.
It is amid this sadness that I had a chat with His Excellency, Mai Mala Buni, governor of Yobe State and, until lately, the Interim Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
I have been privileged to come into contact with many Nigerians who are passionate about Nigeria and can give their all to see that the country works. They love humanity, have a tremendous capacity to forgive slights, and are generous. They are fair to all and they won’t deny even those who oppose them their due. Again, they are endowed with natural leadership qualities, are charismatic, and have a firm belief in fate and God’s will. They can spend hours talking about Nigeria and its problems and prospects, and each of them desires to make the country an inclusive haven for all. They all have the stuff patriots are made of.
One other thing they share in common is their love for books. They are collectors of books. You see books on all subjects under the sun with them and you wonder how they read them, considering their heavy schedules. Do they have the time, you ask yourself? But bring up a topic from any of the books and they will take you on a tour of the book; they are all intelligent, and brilliant.
Three are very close to me and, incidentally, they are all from my state, Yobe, but are not all in the same party. I had cause to acknowledge their qualities in the acknowledgement section of my book, The Arbiter.
Adamu Maina Waziri is one; Tijjani Musa Tumsah (aka TMT) is another. The third, His Excellency Mai Mala Buni, is the one among them that God, in His infinite favours, gave the opportunity to showcase what flows from his heart.
A discussion with Governor Mai Mala Buni is always refreshing, as you cannot fail to add to your knowledge, acquire a broader view and widen your horizon. You come out satisfied that you just had a session with a patriot.
And so it was that last week I picked his mind on various national issues. When you get the opportunity of meeting people like him who are players on the national turf and stakeholders in their parties and the country itself, you want to know why some things are going wrong, or why some things are the way they are.
First, I want to say that Governor Buni is one person who has abundant respect for, and belief in, President Muhammadu Buhari. To him, the president has been great and has done the best for Nigeria. He never tires of narrating how he (the president) has spent a lot on security and given the security managers whatever they needed to do their jobs well. Another area he believes the president has done well is in boosting agriculture and empowering the downtrodden through cash transfers.
But my concern was the polity which has the potential of stabilising the country or, if handled wrongly, destabilising it. And here he believes “it is the responsibility of all political parties, or at least the major ones, to conduct themselves in ways that would ensure stability in the nation by making sure that all parts of the country have a sense of belonging because we all have a responsibility towards making Nigeria a success”.
But politics is like a game of chess where you cash in on the mistakes of your opponent and take his King prisoner. Therefore, many parties who want to “seize” power from the incumbent may not, as a matter of necessity, do what the ruling party must do to keep Nigeria on the lane of sanity.
The burden for that is more on the ruling party than on its rivals. And this is what the APC will now find out – that the one at the bottom has the luxury of throwing punches and karate kicks from all directions to topple the one at the top. Not so for the one at the top, for he would be blamed if anything goes wrong.