It is hardly surprising that Yobe, under Governor Mai Mala Buni, is on the ascendancy today. The governor’s tenacity to get things done, his clear vision for what he wants Yobe to become over the next four years and even over the next eight, and his insistence that government policy must always sync with expert advice– all of these have ensured that Yobe can get farther along in the trajectory of socioeconomic development.
What is surprising, though, is the degree to which so much has been achieved over so short a period of time, and under the most austere and trying of circumstances.
Governor Buni began his eventful journey as Yobe’s chief executive exactly one year ago on the crest of a stellar foundational underpinning laid by former Governor Ibrahim Gaidam. Within ten years as governor, for example, Gaidam had worked admirably well to reposition and expand the state’s road network and its healthcare system, making Yobe’s healthcare sector one of the most active and effective in the entire North-East sub-region.
As the successor to a worthy legacy, Governor Buni therefore anchored his administration on continuity, consolidation and innovation – a three-tract approach that would preserve and expand on those achievements of the last ten years and provide the springboard to re-tool, re-engineer and reach for greater heights.
Today, as the governor marks his first year in office, Yobe can take enormous pride in what he has accomplished so far: A re-tooled, retrofitted and expanded primary and secondary education sector with six new mega-primary schools across the state, a primary healthcare sector that is undergoing massive restructuring with over N7 billion in new investments, the construction of township roads in Buni-Yadi, Babbangida, Damagum and Jajimaji towns, the provision of support to farmers, including the procurement of tractors, implements and fertilizers and providing those to farmers at affordable prices, and helping youth across the state stand on their feet with skills and empowerment trainings.
The governor is also currently building Damaturu’s first modern market and is working to bring the vibrant trucking business in metropolitan Potiskum under one roof with the construction of a modern trailer transit park.
It is noteworthy, however, that Governor Buni accomplished these and many other feats against the backdrop of a raging and ravaging insurgency, an unrelenting fiscal crisis that continues to shake and stress the bottom-line, and now an incredibly challenging coronavirus pandemic. These are challenges that could sap the energy and task the perspicacity of any leader anywhere anytime.
But Governor Buni has faced these challenges with a calmness of spirit, a determination, and a sense of hope and possibility that continue to astound and impress friend and foe alike. I believe it is a testament to true, purposeful leadership that although this is his very first year in office, Governor Buni has impressed the people of the state with his style, his nuance and his skilful take on governance.
Take the COVID-19 challenge, for instance. Across the country, there was understandable hysteria about the coronavirus. Without much science and evidence at the ready, many entities began to adopt varying and, sometimes, conflicting measures to deal with the pandemic.
In Yobe State, like in other states across the nation, a COVID-19 committee went into action, working across sectors and agencies to ensure that people are properly enlightened about the disease and what they need to do to protect themselves and others going forward.
However, the success of the Yobe COVID-19 committee was entirely, thanks to Governor Buni. It was his foresight, his leadership, and his wise counsel that ensured that only measures that are appropriate and that take cognisance of Yobe’s unique situation as a state ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgency were adopted and implemented in tackling the COVID-19 crisis. As a result of the governor’s leadership, Yobe remains one of the few states in the country where government was able to do what was necessary to protect people against COVID-19 without subjecting them to a hardship that could be avoided.
In his second year in office, and for the remainder of his first term as governor, the people of Yobe State can expect from Mai Mala Buni a ratcheting of the stakes and an effort to turbo-charge Yobe’s socioeconomic development.
Governor Buni may be a calm and collected leader. But his obsession with Yobe’s development is always at full throttle.
Bego is Governor Buni’s Commissioner for Home Affairs, Information and Culture and wrote in from Damaturu, Yobe State.