The last two weeks were filled with critique regarding the status and future of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC). Many commentators envisaged a slippery slope for the Party. Notably absent in most of the discussions, however, was the character, political history, and acumen of the Chairman of the Caretaker and Extra Ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) and Yobe State governor Mai Mala Buni, who was at the midpoint of the storm. For those who pay attention, Buni’s entire political career is a philosophical chef-d’oeuvre, and his stint as the Chairman of the CECPC is further proof, if not the climax, of that.
Four decades down, Giovanni Sartori’s political dictum, to make an inference, characterizes party politics as a system of interaction that earns through strategic interface that can manage and benefit from both intra and inter-party competitions. This philosophy is still a reference point for politicians and political thinkers. If Sartori had only drawn up the idea, Gov. Buni has taken it out to the field as the fulcrum for conducting the APC.
To a careful observant, it is easy to envision how Buni is constantly swayed by the conviction that the fortunes of the party depend neither on the assumption that it has reached some optimal threshold nor the familiar complacence of ruling parties that some pinnacle of stability has been attained, once already in power. Far from that, and distant from what some pundits envisaged at the wake of the tumultuous exit of Adams Oshiomole, the erstwhile leader of the party, and the bog that greeted the party in recent days, Buni has gainfully displayed astounding magnanimity and a unique capacity to manage what ordinarily could have been a fluid situation for the Party. He led the APC with a character that defines him as both a staunch party man and a pragmatist.
Time and again, Buni has refused to lose sight of the fact that the stability and the future of the party requires more than just the belief in the mechanics of incumbency; that one-dimensional fallacy inherent in the familiar ephemeral deduction that once you become the leader, you have an insuperable grip of all the aces. What he pursued instead, was a carefully structured pattern of interface and engagement of benign political equilibrium that identifies and aggregates interests, while pacifying any supposed chaos that will hinder target prospects going into 2023.
Through his inaudible but dogged exposition of leadership, he ensured the APC snowballed, making prodigious inroads that have so far renewed the Party’s affluence. He dexterously demonstrated this political skill by triumphantly courting into the APC one of the largest inter-party influx of political bigwigs in recent history. So far, the APC has welcomed former and serving governors, a number of former and serving legislators both at national and state assemblies, including two former speakers of the House of Representatives. This is a testimony to how the Party, under his leadership was reinvented and its treasures revived.
The past few days have again tested Buni’s capacity and acceptability. Conscious of how he succeeded in reorganising and bolstering the party, prominent members, as we have seen with the Senate caucus, and indeed the President rose to the occasion to ensure nothing disrupts the accomplishments made so far. Some observers were constrained to ask if the APC should be concerned by the recent squabble among party members. Well, Pedersen’s principal findings and on political party organisation and conflict has further revealed how, as delicate as they may seem, intra-party skirmishes and disagreements are inherent to party life that they occur frequently both within and between the different faces and hierarchies of the party organization. The research clearly shows how in the end, these disagreements shape a party’s policy stances, electoral strategies and coalition behaviour. If not anything, the APC has now identified some of its formidable fault lines, giving it a head start to forge a sturdy appeasement and reconciliation strategy going into 2023. Hence, these events, and most of what the Buni led CECPC worked for and withered, speak only of utility, especially when one reflects on the less anticipated electoral volatility that ousted the PDP in 2015.
Another monumental feat in the line of what the Buni led CECPC achieved is guiding the party on the principle and philosophy that kept inspiring members and even those outside to view the APC as a dialogue-driven coalition of dedicated and experienced stalwarts who tenaciously demonstrate an unswerving aptitude to reach out, to resolve, to attract, to pull and, to subsequently win. As we gradually approach the 2023 general elections, whoever emerges as the leader of the party must exhibit these inspiring political skills to efficaciously navigate intraparty intricacies and organisational obscurities. For the opposition, they probably have to go by similar inspiring and dogged strategies and discover a scheme to shrink the APC, which at present seemed far-fetched.
Mr Kagu is a member of the APC and wrote in from Damaturu, Yobe State