When Arc. Waziri Bulama was finally inaugurated as Ag. National Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on 18th May, 2020 after almost a year and half of advocacy, consultations and consensus building, it was huge sigh of relief for those of us who have become protégés of the foremost politician. He had earlier been announced in acting capacity in January and later sometime in March, but the process of formalizing the appointment unfortunately took another 4 months of horse-trading.
All of that finally gave way when through a letter from an overwhelming majority of stakeholders in the North-east, Bulama was eventually sworn-in. And to further strengthen his hand, the Zonal Executive Committee of the North-East APC unanimously endorsed him on June 13 – there, the last vestige of opposition to his appointment crumbled. At a virtual meeting attended by the Senate President, the three Governors from the region, Senators and other officials, the zone endorsed and resolved to forward his name and two others to the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the APC for ratification as nominees from the zone for various positions.
It will be recalled that Bulama was Deputy Director-General (Coordination) of the 2019 APC Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) where he devoted full time and energy to keep the campaign Secretariat running, 24/7. After the successful campaign, he shunned entreaties to lobby for juicy cabinet appointments preferring instead to settle for the less attractive role of party scribe to strengthen the party machinery to promote cohesion and bequeath a discernible progressive ideology.
Not one to dither in the face of onerous responsibilities, Bulama moved swiftly to roar back the party secretariat to life, holding extensive meetings with Departmental heads, assuring of his commitment to reposition the party and make welfare of staff paramount. His office and home became a mecca of sorts as politicians and party chieftains trooped ceaselessly, almost 24/7 to consult the new scribe. On account of his open door policy, His Excellency, as he was fondly called, ensured he saw everyone even when we thought otherwise. He believes everyone deserves to be given a sense of belonging irrespective of status, tribe or social standing.
His leadership acumen was put to task when suddenly the former Chairman Adams Oshiomhole’s suspension was upheld by the Appeal Court. The party which had crucial gubernatorial primaries to conduct was almost in disarray, but Bulama rose to the occasion. He rallied his 16 colleagues in the National Working Committee (NWC) to fill the leadership lacuna in line with the party constitution and they now proceeded to set up the governorship primaries committee headed by Gov. Hope Uzodinma of Imo State, assisted by Senator Ajibola Basiru – who Bulama holds in high esteem, as Secretary. Not many knew the National Secretary was convalescing at this time, but he had to sacrifice his recuperation to lead from the front.
The primary elections in Edo State was generally regarded as novel, peaceful and quite unique in conforming with social distancing protocols of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) across the 192 wards in the State. Not many know that the feat was made possible by the behind-the-scene leadership and round the clock monitoring of Arc. Bulama. Nothing was taken to chance, from security of the panel to INEC participation as witnesses, approval from the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, amongst others. Indeed at that period, over 15 hours daily was put in and several days of sleepless nights to ensure success.
As the days go by when agitations became rife following the dispute about who is the authentic Ag. Chairman between the NWC-backed late Sen. Abiola Ajimobi and Victor Gaidom – former Deputy National Secretary, that infamously laid claim to the seat, Bulama stood on the side of the constitution by standing firmly with the former based on the advice of legal luminaries and the APC legal adviser. He held meetings with groups and stakeholders to explain the position of the NWC, debunk speculations the body was averse to the call for a NEC meeting but maintained it must be held and called, in line with the party constitution. He always emphasised the need for 14 organs of the APC to function optimally, and blamed the inertia in the party secretariat on account of the long absence of a substantive National scribe for the anomaly. He expressed commitment to ensure redress by making statutory meetings of all organs of the party become the norm.
To cap his trouble-shooting efforts, Bulama led the NWC members into a virtual meeting with Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, two days before the body was dissolved. The nation’s number two man was informed of the position of the NWC and why the law is on its side amongst others. The rest is now history, as the President in his wisdom chose to apply what is now termed a “Doctrine of Necessity” to attend the NEC meeting called by Gaidom and opt for wholesale dissolution of the NWC. In the midst of the crises, Bulama showed strength of character and resilience by relegating his personal interest, standing by the collective decision of his colleagues, and insisting on the sanctity of the rule of law.
While the party scribe has since chosen to defer to the President by accepting the setting up of a Caretaker Committee as an interim replacement for the NWC, the job of repositioning the APC has also been temporarily stymied. Issues around a reward system for members, functional organs of the party, 21st century complaint political party, party supremacy & distinct ideology from top to bottom were top on the agenda of the immediate past National Secretary. Indeed, I remember he told me he had consulted some prominent party juggernauts who would be members of his think-tank to fine-tune strategies for implementation of his blueprint. They were set to be inaugurated before the NWC was given the boot.
In six months, the APC will hold a convention to elect new National officers, the party must look in the direction of Arc. Waziri Bulama to play a prominent role not only to continue from where he started as the short-lived party scribe, but to lead efforts to put the party on a strong footing, reposition it to sustain its winning streak, post-2023. For Bulama, making APC the party to beat remains his passion, his purpose!
Segun Tomori, is a protégé of Arc. Waziri Bulama, Member of the APC Young Stakeholders and Executive Director (Communications), RedPole Media.