By David Onmeje
Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum is a leader of immense courage and an achiever of monumental proportions. His two years in the saddle as Governor of Borno state has proved beyond doubts, his competence and unwavering determination to offer exemplary leadership.
Gov. Zulum has redefined the face of leadership; he is tackling Boko Haram terrorism and development challenges simultaneously. While celebrating his second year in office last May, the Governor unveiled over 570 capital projects spanning different sectors of the state. Nigerians and the people of Borno particularly, were pleasantly shocked. In the midst of bile insurgency, Gov. Zulum performed these wonders and the flair keeps gathering momentum everyday.
Borno state has become a huge construction site. But in every community, there must be haters and lovers; adversaries and enemies. The enemies of Borno are on the prowl again. These are those who hate the progress Gov. Zulum has birthed in the state; they are the veiled forces enabling terrorism in Borno, who loathe to see that insurgency has been defeated in the state; peace and progress has berthed.
A few days ago, President Muhammadu Buhari was again in Borno State, epicenter of the Boko Haram insurgency to commission projects executed by Gov. Zulum.
Buhari was in the same state in June this year, when he also commissioned a whole lot of completed projects across the state.
But President Buhari bruised the ego of the adversaries of Zulum and enemies of the state. They were displeased that Mr. President was amplifying the success story of the Governor with a repeat visit in December 2021. So, they exploded bombs around the airport vicinity to dissuade President Buhari from visiting the state and the troops at the frontlines.
Therefore, the enemies of Borno wanted President Buhari to confront bloodshed, rather than projects executed by Gov. Zulum. But the evil machinations failed woefully. Firstly, the detonated bombs never discouraged Mr. President from Borno state and most notably, the President saw and commissioned worthy and masses-oriented projects executed by a Governor generally acclaimed in Nigeria today as a development freak.
Therefore, whilst Boko Haram terrorists wanted Mr. President to see blood, Zulum’s efforts were overwhelming and overshadowed the faint presence of insurgents and so, President Buhari could only see the projects.
And in the second visit to Borno, President Buhari commissioned the elegant Muhammadu Indimi Centre for Distance Learning and an International Conference Centre, built at the University of Maiduguri by Gov. Zulum. There were other completed projects such as the Borno’s first flyover with upper and lower lanes, located at the old Customs roundabout; the 10-kilometer dualized Maiduguri-Muna road, a new Mega Secondary School in Kushari in Maiduguri.
Mr. President could not conceal his excitement, fondly expressed in the deep appreciation of Gov. Zulum for his commitment cooperation with the Federal Government in multiple spheres. This has evidently brought great developmental strides for the overall good of the people of Borno State.
Pleasantly, Gov. Zulum has sustained his quintessential best in performance. Unlike most of his fellow governors, the man has refused to be swayed by excuses, by excellently delivering on his mandate.
The Governor has done many projects across the length and breadth of the state. These projects are verifiable and physical for even the blind to see, touch and feel their presence. The people of Borno reverently proclaim Gov. Zulum’s name anywhere they find themselves as attestation of his good leadership. Its impossible to count Gov. Zulum’s projects in a jiffy. His presence is felt overwhelmingly, in health, education, agric sectors, much as in any other sector.
As the chief security officer of the state, Gov. Zulum has prioritized security, bearing in mind that it is the fundamental duty of any government to ensure the safety of all its citizens. He is always in constant touch with the military heads involved in the fight against insurgents, as well as with thousands of volunteers from the civilian JTF, hunters and vigilantes.
In addition to increased monthly allowances to members of the Civilian JTF, the Governor has always ensured that there are more patrol vehicles and other logistics needed in the fight against Boko Haram and other criminals in the state. He risks his life to ensure his people are secured and almost paid the supreme, when Boko Haram ambushed his convoy twice.
Impressively too, Gov. Zulum has committedly tackled the housing deficits of the people exercebated by Boko Haram destructions. The Zulum-led administration has constructed and completed many rural and urban houses for the people of the state, including those for the University community. There are low-cost re-settlement houses at Ajiri, Kawuri Township, Monguno; Guru-Soye; Kawuri village; Auno and Gamdu etc.
At a time when state governors are crying for lack of funds, Governor Zulum would have also chosen to resign to fate and sit back to moan and groan over “paucity of funds”. But Gov. Zulum is remarkably different! He has chosen to make a difference in the lives of his subjects and to add value to them.
Notably again, Gov. Zulum has always shown that he is a Governor for all. He does not differentiate between Christians and Muslims. This is why he decided to offset the transport fares for residents of the state, who were travelling to the South West, South East and other parts of the country for the yuletide. He considered their plight and intervened. Even though, he is a Muslim, he showed an example of what the Christmas season entails-love and sacrifice.
Therefore, Gov. Zulum came on the throne of Borno, he saw the mortley of problems and conquered them. No wonder, President Buhari has never been hesitant to visit the state, knowing it won’t be a waste of time after all. With Gov. Zulum on board, there are always projects to commission!
Onmeje is the author of the book, ‘The Man Kyari’ and wrote this piece from Abuja.