By: Inuwa Bwala
He emerged against all odds. Not many people gave him a chance in the ensuing political battle over who should succeed Kashim Shettima as Governor in Borno State. Long after the primaries of the All Progressives Congress, APC, which produced Babagana Umara Zulum, a Professor of Agricultural Engineering, many had remained skeptical, even when the then Governor, Kashm Shettima openly endorsed his candidacy. Seemingly, his emergence has a sort of divine ordination and Professor Babagana Umara Zulum pulled through.
Like Nostradamus, only his predecessor, Kashim Shettima could see what tomorrow held for the Professor of Agricultural engineering. While many people were querying his political pedigree, Shettima was focused on the man’s robust academic and working credentials. At the end of it all, many more are today agreed, that, the choice of Babagana Umara Zulum was the best under the circumstances.
Because Professor Babagana Umara Zullum may have come into office with no apparent political pedigree, many politicians who have been on ground for much longer period felt he did not merit it. Even as the dark horse in the race,everybody knows that when it comes to honesty, performance and loyalty, he stands shoulders high. Even those who contested with him attest to the fact that he gave very good account of himself as lecturer in the university if Maiduguri, Rector of the Ramat Polytechnic and later as Commissioner for the newly established Ministry of Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Resettlement.
It seems to me that, immediately he emerged as the Governorship standard bearer of the All Progressives Congress, APC, for the 2019 elections, knowing that the coast was clear, going by Borno’s political history, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum may have started working towards making the greatest impact within the first one hundred days in office.
Quite to the surprise of many, Professor Zulum seems to have hit the ground running, as immediately he assumed office, he embarked on certain radical review of some policies and actions, which endeared him instantly to the citizenry.
He spent so many sleepless nights trying to fashion out an agenda for the new government. Those who witnessed his inauguration ceremony may have noticed that he was so exhausted, but because of his passion for a speedy take off, he was on his foot to address what is perhaps Borno’s biggest and immediate challenge: security. At a meeting with members of the security committee, Professor Zulum outlined what has come to be known as the carrot and stick approach in prosecuting the fight against insurgency.
He did not mince words about his determination to succeed even in the face of obvious security threats. In inviting every citizen to come forward with inputs on how to resolve the lingering Boko Haram milieu, the governor offered the olive branch to repentant insurgents who are willing to embrace peace and be reintegrated into the society. This is coming at a time he also charged the armed forces, local hunters and members of the Civilian Joint Task Force to take the battle to the doorsteps of recacilstrant insurgents, with a view to forcing them to surrender.
After a meeting with key government officials, and after due consultations, he began making unscheduled visits to government offices and facilities, including a visit to the state Secretariat where he made far reaching pronouncements on the need to reawaken the working spirit of civil servants. Shortly after this, Governor Babagana Umara paid visits to some Local Government headquarters, where he unleashed disciplinary measures on workers who were either absent or found wanting in the discharge of their duties.
Following some of his actions, civil servants, were made happier,u especially those whose regular payment of salaries were affected by an ongoing biometric reregistration of government workers. He ordered for the immediate payment of all outstanding salaries of all categories of workers who were affected. He equally ordered the payment of leave allowances to workers, with strict charges that the workers must also earn the pay, by going to work regularly. His historic visit to the Musa Usman Secretariat remains a watershed in the recent history of the State Civil Service, where he virtually took charge in offices, even as the marching orders he gave non performing workers seems to have instilled a new sense of discipline in government workers.
The highest point of Professor Babagana Umara Zulum new administration is no doubt the massive infrastructural rehabilitation he embarked upon. At every stop during his tour of ministries, parastatals and local Governments, the Governor ordered for rehabilitations and fresh construction of so many infrastructures in especially the education sector, health, roads and water supply.
On visiting the southern part of the state, especially Hawul Local Government, where I come from, the Governor ordered for the immediate rehabilitation of infrastructures in schools, hospitals and communities. As he marks his first one hundred days in office which was without the usual fanfare associated with the such period, Professor Zulum has completed the construction of houses destroyed by Boko Haram in Kwajaffa, built new classroom blocks in Kwajaffa Central Primary school and Government Secondary school Kwajaffa. He has given a facelift to the palace of the district head and has ordered the construction of the 2 and half kilometer road into Kwajaffa town. This is in addition to connecting the town to the National grid, amongst others.
Governor Zulum has ordered the newly constructed General Hospital Azare in Hawul Local Government to immediately be put to use. Work on the classrooms and staff quarters at Government Secondary schools Sakwa and Marama have been completed within a period of just 63 days.
Time and space may not permit me to under list the projects he has so far executed, most of which I can personally testify to but one of the most impressive projects executed by Professor Zulum in less than a hundred days remains the completion of the Bura Women Skills Acquisition Centre in Marama. The fact that the project is a private initiative which caught his fancy, and which he met at about 40% completion only to complete the project in 51 days speaks volumes. Again the GSS Kwaya Bura has been completed. All these projects are located in only one local Government.
Professor Zulum has broken a jinx in Biu where he relocated the Local Government Secretariat to a more suitable site and completed the new building in a little over sixty days. Staff quarters at the Biu General Hospital is at finishing stage.
Efforts are still on to document all the achievements, which unlike others are real and verifiable. I must not fail to pay this special tribute, to Professor Babagana Zulum, as a man who combined work, speed and due diligence.
By: Inuwa Bwala