KASHIM SHETTIMA, The Bookworm

By
Yakubu Ahmed-BK

Are you desirous of knowing why Kashim Shettima, the APC Vice Presidential candidate is a fresh air in Nigeria’s pre-2023 politics? Have you ever wondered why he is so educated, eloquent, urbane and an egghead?
Yes, he was educated at the University of Maiduguri and University of Ibadan. To cap all, he was the golden boy in all the places he worked, moving up the ladder faster than anyone else -all on account of working hard and blaze trailing?
What most people missed is that Kashim Shettima is a bookworm. The best gift you can give him is a book. If he sets eyes on book, there he goes. That is why he is a man of details, so current and bold.

TRIBUTE: FOREWORD TO THE GARLANDS FOR THE GOLDEN BOY OF KORONGOSO @56

By:Inuwa Bwala
Very often, when Kashim Shettima reflects upon his own life, he says; that, nobody gave him the chance: a Kwayam boy from Nimeri Korongoso, the chance in his meteoric rise to stardom.
Not in a society where one’s progress is largely determined at the whims and caprices of the rich and the mighty: the class to which his family did not belong.
Way back in school, we regard those of them who came from the metropolitan center as shinning examples, being children of the elites, that were to determine the fates of those of us coming from the villages. We never fathomed, that they have their own class distinctions out there, which placed some others higher in the social strata.
The family vocation and background from which he comes; may not qualify Kashim Shettima as one, born with a golden or silver spoon in the mouth, but it is also inappropriate to say he is of a poor background.
Today, virtually everybody, whose paths have crossed with Senator Kashim Shettima, may be planning to impress him in one way or the other, as he clicks 56.
Most of them : not so much for the year he has added to his age, but for the fact that, he has risen in fame, and is the possible next Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Christened the Golden Boy, by his admirers: Kashim Shettima is not expecting anything less either, in the face of his political ascendence, in the last few years.
Amongst those who celebrate him today, is the clan of successful politicians and technocrats, whom he built and nurtured, since he came into political limelight: the group to which I also belong.
In the next few days, Newspaper advertisements, Radio and Television placements, as well as the Social Media space will be fully occupied with congratulatory messages to Senator Kashim Shettima, for clocking 56 years and for being identified and picked as the running mate to the Presidential standard bearer of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in the 2023 Presidential election.
Kashim Shettima is going to be told, how his intellectualism, political vision and sagacity, fidelity, tolerance, patience and honesty, and above all his statemanship, are paying off.
He will probably be reminded, that, the virtues he displayed as Governor, the leadership qualities he demonstrated as leader of the Northern Governor’s’ Forum, the vision he had in discovering Babagana Umara Zulum, the display of brilliance in his contributions in the Senate,the many of his mesmerizing pieces of oratory excellence at public functions and above all, the clan of political associates he has assembled over the years will work for him. Shettima will be told how it is now payback time for his support to the APC and by extension to Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Presidential standard bearer.
It is no longer a matter of choice for him to decide how his birthday is going to be celebrated. Before now, he preferred to have it low keyed: restricted amongst family, friends and a few associates. Kashim Shettima us today a national asset, and a cousin to everybody, including those who hitherto were reluctant to identify with him.
His emergence as the potential Vice President is fast rewriting the narrative, which sought to write him off politically, just as it makes him the beautiful bride, in Nigeria’s quest for purposeful leadership.
As the hour closes on the actual celebrations, the true friends shall be judged by their outings, in the way and manner they celebrate Kashim Shettima. Before then, this is to wish my brother, my friend, my compatriot and my boss, Happy 56th Birthday.

Why Nigerians don’t go to zoos again— Experts

Some experts have decried what they called disappearing zoo culture in the country, attributing it to poor maintenance of most zoological gardens and the current state of the nation’s economy.

Answering questions during a survey with our correspondent, the experts said that the poor state of the economy had compelled most Nigerians to consider visiting zoological gardens as secondary.

A don, Prof. Lameed Gbolagade, told our correspondent that the current state of economy in the country made many people prefer basic human needs, such as food, shelter and clothing, to leisure or relaxation.

According to Gbolagade, hardly do Nigerians consider going to zoological gardens as relevant or important any more, except students who are compelled by their various institutions and few others.

“Zoological gardens and other places of tourism are at the receiving end of such rejection.

“The money accruable from ticketing has been grossly reduced. Consequently, many animals are being starved or deprived of basic necessities,” he said.

Gbolagade, who is from the Department of Wildlife and Ecotourism Management, University of Ibadan, however, said some zoological gardens were still managing to survive in spite of the challenges.

“We have the University of Ibadan Zoological Garden, University of Ilorin Zoological Garden, FUNAAB Zoo and Obasanjo Library Zoo, among others.
“However, many zoological gardens, such as Agodi Gardens and some others, have folded up due to reasons bordering on financial incapability as well as manpower and institutional-based problems.

“Others have ceased to exist due to low patronage as well as lack of good and healthy species that can be displayed in the zoo.

“The species are called ‘keystone species’, such as the big five: lion, elephant, buffalo, giraffe and python/chimpanzee/gorilla, all of which can attract visitors’ interests,” he said.

Gbolagade said many people were yet to recover from Ebola and COVID-19 pandemics which, he said, were erroneously believed to be caused by exposure to wild animals.

The don added that many zoological gardens could not afford to feed their animals, pay the salaries and emoluments of their workers and meet other necessities.

“However, new zoos are coming up, either from individuals or institutions, depending on conservation interest and ability to manage the species of animals in captivity,” he said.

Also, Dr Amos Olorunnipa, an expert in Anthropology, Cultural Studies and Heritage Consultancy, noted that there were some zoological gardens in some locations, although they might not be fully functioning.

“There are zoological gardens in places like Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife and Jos in Plateau,” Olorunnipa said.

He attributed the closure of some zoological gardens to factors such as inadequate management, lack of enough space, food, water and veterinary care as well as lack of interest on the part of visitors and poor finances.

Olorunnipa said that zoological gardens were no longer visited regularly by most people due to the current economic hardship in the country, lack of financial backing, increase in zoo entry charges, insecurity, kidnapping, banditry and insurgency.

The don also listed COVID-19 pandemic and absence of some animals that usually attracted visitors as part of the reasons for closure of some zoological gardens.

“Another likely factor may be the story of some dangerous animals already heard by the public, while some may think that visiting the zoo is not as educative nowadays as it used to be,” he said.

Olorunnipa however, stressed the need for revival in zoo management, importation of more wild animals that could attract visitors and intensification of public enlightenment.

For Mr Tony Adegoke, an Osogbo based zoologist, poor budgetary allocation, inadequate maintenance and illegal killing of wildlife were major setbacks to development and sustenance of zoological gardens in Nigeria.

“If both the state and federal governments can allocate enough funds for the maintenance of the animals, some of the ailing zoological gardens can still come alive for the benefit of the people,” Adegoke said.

Harnessing tourism potential of Nasarawa Waterfall

There was jubilation in Kwarra, the host  community of the 450 metres high Farin Ruwa Waterfall in Wamba Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, that the once moribund dam was being brought to life.

The torrential force of gushing water from the fall earned the fall the name `Farin Ruwa’( white water).

Located about 120 kilometres from Lafia, the state capital, people of the area were optimistic that when completed the dam around the water fall site would help to increase access to all-year farming.

The Farin-Ruwa Hydropower Multipurpose Dam Project was

initiated in 2004 to generate 2,000 hydropower electricity to enhance the socio-economic development of Nasarawa  State.

After many years of abandonment the Federal Government undertook to complete the project.

The Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, in November 2020, awarded contract for the full completion of the dam to Messrs WE China Worldwide.

Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, at the launching ceremony for the completion work of the Farin-Ruwa Multipurpose Dam recently, said that the Federal Government approved takeover of the project and allocated N8.14bn for its completion.

He also said that the Federal Government approved the expansion of the project to include a regional water scheme and construction of irrigation infrastructure of 2,000 hectares for dry season farming.

Adamu said the contract, which had a 24-month timeline, comprised the completion of the dam embankment, spillway and outlet works.

He added that it would include water supply and hydropower components, 20 kilometres of access road and the rehabilitation of some service quarters that were under construction before the project was abandoned.

The minister commended the state government for the foresight in initiating the project and provision of necessary logistics for smooth takeover.

He promised that the project would be completed within the stipulated period and according to specifications.

Governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Sule, who also spoke, at the event, sought the intervention of the Federal Government to enable the state generate 50 megawatts of power from the dam.

The governor specifically requested the Ministry of Water Resources to assist the state towards generating 25 megawatts at the table of the Farin Ruwa Waterfall and another 25 megawatts at the Farin Ruwa Dam when completed.

According to him, the entire Nasarawa State requires about 10 megawatts of power, with the remaining 40 megawatts to be generated, to be uploaded to the national grid to power the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The governor, who described the Farin Ruwa falls as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world, said the minister would write his name in gold if he carries out the project successfully.

Sule said that when he visited the waterfall, he discovered that the biggest challenge was road infrastructure, and therefore awarded N3 billion contract for the road network leading to the site.

He pointed out that even though the original concept by the first civilian governor of the state was to produce 25 megawatts of power, his administration has a vision to upscale the project to 50 megawatts.

“As an engineer, I can see that, at the table of the fall, 25 megawatts can be easily generated. Then you have the dam. By the time the water floods and with 73 million  litres of water, coupled with the depth of the dam, you can easily generate another 25 megawatts.

“Ten megawatts is enough to power the entire Nasarawa State, you have 40 megawatts to go to Abuja,” Sule explained.

A traditional ruler, Alhjai Musa Nagogo, who also spoke, expressed joy that the once abandoned dam site was considered a priority by the Federal Government.

Nagogo said that completion of the project  would change the town into an economic hub.

“We sincerely want to appreciate the governor and the Minister of Water Resources for taking over the abandoned project, so that the livelihood of the population will be improved.”

A water resources expert, Mrs Victoria Yusuf, on her part, called on all stakeholders to do more towards harnessing the water resources potential of the country’s dams for hydropower, tourism opportunities among others.

“We are looking at opportunities in tourism, Nigeria has lots of dams that can be used in recreational activities and these are areas that we are looking into. “We want tiers of government to partner  some investors particularly on Gurara Dam.

“We can also build a beautiful tourist resort around that place with lots of amenities.’’

Stakeholders say that passage of the National Water Resources Bill, still before the National Assembly, would help  actualise the road map and reforms in the water resources sector.

They also called for commitment from the contractors and other stakeholders to complete the multipurpose dam within the stipulated time. 

All Chinese schools now have access to Internet

All Chinese schools now have full access to the Internet, and 95.2 percent of them are equipped with multi-media classrooms, according to a senior official with China’s Ministry of Education (MOE).

The country has been constantly accelerating informationization of teaching, and sees it as underpinning the modernization of education, said Zhong Denghua, vice minister of the MOE, at a virtual conference attended by ministers of education on the E9 Digital Learning Initiative jointly held by UNESCO and Bangladesh on April 6.

Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, online courses thrived across the country as a way to ensure normal teaching activities, said Zhong, adding that nearly 300 million teachers and students had learnt or taught online while the epidemic kept them out of school.

Zhong told the conference that China has joined hands with the international community to fight the pandemic, actively sharing its own anti-epidemic experience and online education resources with a number of developing countries.

He stressed that along with the new technological revolution and industrial transformation, education is bound to undergo revolutionary changes, adding that China is willing to join hands with other countries in sharing new technologies in education and teaching resources in order to build a better world.

My Journey into the Writing Court

My desire to write was born in 2014 when I entered into a congenial partnership with Bedford Iniye to run a magazine company.

Then the two of us, novice in myriads of subjects, didn’t know how to handsomely put words together to produce an insightful article to grip a reader’s attention, nor do we have the slightest idea of the endless troubles that follow the business of running a print magazine.

Of course, we needed someone with the knack to write. Someone who is gifted literally with the pen, and can effortlessly command words against their will, ultimately using them to the best of advantage and achieving the greatest clarity.

When the question was raised concerning who amongst us would write, I responded with an uncommon optimism, and instantly volunteered even when I knew not how to scribble down an eye-catching paragraph. Then anything I write would lack the warmth and glamour that haul the reader from one paragraph to the other.

.

Well, I had this animal force as well as pride that, if I say it, I tend to do it, like a hyperbolized fictional movie creature ( preferably John Wick).

Governor Seyi Makinde
A Journey into the Court of Writing

So I thought of burying myself under literature books written by Grand Masters of the pen, and to whom writing craft answers to, for a week or two.

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By choosing to write, Bedford Iniye, my partner, automatically assumed the place of a sponsor, and lived hand to mouth just for the cause, and a lot of times cried in a never-ending manner about the toilsome nature of raising money in Bayelsa State.

This made us a team of young, curious and misguided business men. And again, we felt exonerated as we reverently spoke of the idea all the time, and fantasized over the dignity of producing a glossy and fancy magazine with a sensational and ravingly famous star on its front cover page.

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Since everyone now knows clearly what role they will play, I thought of beginning my rambling into literature world and engaging into full time and far-flung reading, so I can advance my knowledge rapidly in the art, and incredibly imitate the patterns of those iconic writers, who I held in high worth, and aspire to be like.

Somehow, I hastened up in doing all this early because I wouldn’t want to err or give excuses if I’m called suddenly to perform a writing ritual. Besides, Bedford wasn’t aware of the fact that I wasn’t who I courageously said I was.

My nightmare began when I picked up a book (There Was a Country) by Chinu Achebe to read, and soon dozed off just after reading two pages of it. The volumes of the book are heart sucking and swiftly drained up my intellectual robustness and relegated me to the rank of an apprentice.

Waking up after 45 minutes, the same thing repeated when I resumed the reading. I felt like a wandering stranger in a city so awkward in fashion and social arrangement.

At this point I regretted the lies. My hope of maneuvering things craftily diminished. I realised I was in another man’s arena — where I was just a toddler, or a neophyte, and would master the ropes only with time and endless learning and unlearning.

With my head banging and fear gripping me, while staring at the book laying on a wooden table open, I thought of retiring from this path. B,ut the thought of the humiliation and disdainful treatment from Bedford if he finds out that I lied rekindled my spirit, brought me closer to the true nature of things, and the reasons why I shouldn’t just chicken out.

Slightly encouraged, I solemnly declared that I was here already; I will stay no matter the strains and endure the indispensable drills till I become an indisputable champ in the arena.

This was how I started off. Even when the project was put off for some reasons, I didn’t stop reading but continued to eat the frog while hoping.

Well, there were countless melancholic and Topsy-Turvy moments. Ordinarily, I would have surrendered, but I was beginning to secretly admire my solitary and colourful transaction on a plain sheet of paper.

At first, I wrote with big and uncommon words. For you to comprehend my writing, you needed a dictionary by your side as you read. I took pride in when one identified me as a garrulous bore.

Although with time I got it right, I learnt how to be calm even when it is obvious that no writer ever relaxed when in action, and said the things I said uniquely in order to give the reader less trouble to grasp.

If any writer really inspired me, it was George Orwell, E.B White, William Zinser, Mario Puzo and Walden Emerson. I dived enthusiastically into the enigmatic world they created; always amazed by the spell-casting voice and effortless style with which they say what they say, and lost track of time, with an undying desire of remaining there.

Overall, I would say I’m a better writer than I was some years ago. All thanks to the day Iniye Bedford brought the abstract idea of us running a magazine together.

President Buhari

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President Buhari focused on nation building and unity of Nigeria, By Femi Adesina

By FEMI ADESINA

To state that we live in challenging times is perhaps an understatement and does very little justice in accurately capturing our current realities. Those realities include a world faced with a pandemic the scale of which hasn’t been seen in 100 years. The crisis has crippled economies, destroyed global supply chains and obliterated once productive and viable sectors of the economy.

Our dear nation has not been spared in this difficult period and, indeed, has felt the impact of the global crisis. But as a responsive government, the Buhari administration has within limited resources designed responses that are targeted at mitigating the full impact of this scourge.

The Economic Sustainability Plan has earmarked N2.7 trillion in spending to create and sustain jobs and livelihoods for those who have been impacted the most by this crisis.

Despite battling with low public revenues, and the hydra-headed monster of low oil price and a reduced production quota from OPEC, this administration remains committed to honouring the promises made to the Nigerian people across the key areas of Security, Economy and fighting Corruption.

At the just concluded Inter-Ministerial Retreat, the entire Government apparatus was gathered under one roof to review performance over the last year, with a singular objective of identifying how to improve in those areas where successes fell short of target, and how to replicate those key elements that led to success in others.

A frank conversation took place between the participants and independent assessors. Amongst the critical themes that emerged from the two-day session was the need to improve focus, coordination and collaboration amongst Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and the importance of rigorous execution, monitoring and evaluation of projects and activities against set targets.

Regarding domestic policy actions, the last week has seen critical decisions around the economy being taken. These are decisions that for many years previous governments have shied away from, and as a result cost our country several billions of dollars.

This was funding that could easily have been deployed elsewhere in support of millions of our citizens, as opposed to subsidizing a small percentage of our population. If we continued along this path it would portend a very dark and uncertain future for our country.

As most crisis managers state, “Never allow a crisis go to waste.” Such periods present an opportunity to take stock and make difficult decisions. These domestic policy decisions were by no means easy, but are in the best interest of our nation.

The impact of this decision is to have an improved allocation of very scarce resources, create an opportunity for private sector investment to return to sectors where government intervention had created distortions in various ways. The return of the private sector promotes job creation and provides for the entrepreneurial genius that is embedded in Nigerians.

Leadership is about making tough and difficult decisions and not a popularity contest. President Buhari’s commitment to doing the right things in the best interest of our country should never be in doubt.

In the regional sphere, Mr. President has not shirked from his responsibilities of promoting alongside other sub-regional leaders the principle of non-acceptability of change of government other than by constitutional means, and the values of democracy in places like Mali and ensuring that peace and security are maintained in neighbouring countries as they have a direct impact on our own security and territorial integrity.

Mr. President is also fully aware that there are historic fissures that exist in various locations across the country, and has advocated for dialogue between key parties who are direct stakeholders in ensuring peace.

An example is the recent peace dialogue that took place in Kaduna between warring groups that have been at each other’s neck for quite some time. Their efforts to sit across the table and dialogue on how best they can resolve their differences, is the pathway that needs to be charted in addressing our internal issues. Such peace moves, which would be deepened and extended to other parts of the country, are critical to our continued existence as a people and as a nation.

However, what is sad, and most reprehensible is the conduct of those who should know better and should be seen to be playing a leading role in bridging and or mediating these fissures that we have lived with, who now invest their time in trying to deepen those fault lines and stoking ethnic embers in very subtle and manipulative ways that eventually find their way to the public sphere.

Given the plethora of challenges that confront our nation, Mr. President’s attention is on how our growing youthful population can compete in a world that has no boundaries and barriers, given our very fertile land. Focus is on how we can best improve agricultural practices and increase yields per hectare, so our farmers benefit from their sweat and honest labour.

Also under attention is how connectivity between markets and people can be improved so that commerce and movement of persons can thrive and flourish.

How do we deepen technology penetration to ensure that we are not left behind in the digital race? These are a few amongst the things that occupy the thoughts of the President.

All statesmen will be judged by their records long after they exit the scene, and President Buhari is focused on deepening Nigeria’s unity and laying a solid foundation for the transformation of our country so that future leadership can build on.

Therefore, he will not be deterred by those whose singular objective, carried out through a veil of deception, is a cocktail of hate-inspired messaging and vitriol intended to distract and undermine our march towards prosperous nation building.

* Adesina is Special Adviser to the President, Media and Publicity.

Kashim Shettima: My Boss/Friend @54

By: Inuwa Bwala

The story of Kashim Shettima, former Governor of Borno State, now’ Distinguished Senator representing Borno Central Senatorial district in the National Assembly, could be likened to that of the hunter, who picked what he thought was a puppy during a hunting expedition, only to realise that it was actually a baby lion on returning home.

From the background of a university lecturer, Shettima became one of the Most successful but quiet bankers north of the Niger. His records in Zenith bank where he was discovered and picked for political office speak volumes about Kashim Shettima’s rise to Stardom.
As a commissioner in the cabinet of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, the then Governor of Borno State, Shettima distinguished himself so we, and was on the move very frequently from one ministry to another, where he set standards in job delivery and resources management.
Many of his colleagues thought he was over pampered, but most of us also could not deny the fact that he was ahead in meeting the expectations of our boss.
Regarded as a greenhorn in politics at that time, nobody gave him the chance of being picked as Sheriffs successor. Even when he eventually emerged, so many people, including the then Governor, Ali Modu Sheriff, thought the furthest he could go is a one tenure Governor. What was not known to all of us, was that, Kashim Shettima deliberately concealed his potentials like the lion cub, and when they began to manifest as he took full control, there seemed no stopping him, not even by the forces we thought were indispensable.
He conquered the political space and rendered those who wrote him off voiceless. Even his ardent critics hailed him as the emergent political force from the Sahara. He went on to become the Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum at a very challenging time. He made the greatest impact of that office, leaving behind an oversized shoe.
I often tell people, that, Kashim Shettima is the type, that. the more one tries to know him, the further one tends to get away from his concealed personality.Even those who loath him, do secretly admire his intellectual candour, his mastery of English and his delivery if speech
Kashim Shettima can mesmerize even the best of orators whenever given the opportunity to make public speeches.
Very often, when he rises to speak in the Senate, Shettima holds his colleagues spell bound and delivers his message with the mastery of a born orator.
I cannot help agreeing with one of my friends who observed that Kashim Shettima reads so many books, especially philosophical books, and that explains why he could quote so many philosophical texts in a row with such precision that one may think he is the original author.
He is what journalists describe as a reporters delight, when he begins to philosophise on contemporary events marrying same with past philosophical forecasts.
His sheer intellectual bravado has endeared him to so many people, including his older colleagues in the red chambers, and political pundits rate him amongst Nigeria’s upcoming politicians to watch in the nearest future.
I have had my very bitter quarrels with him and could claim to know him very well. One aspect of him I am yet to comprehend is Kashim Shettimas ability to win the confidence of people, including his arch enemies. Such men are rare nowadays.
He often reminds me that we are contemporaries and compatriots, but he is far ahead in so many things. And it is because I do not hope to ever catch up with him in those areas he has comoarative lead, that I regard him more as my boss, much mire than my friend, even though he prefers we relate as friends. Happy 54th birthday my boss friend Distinguished Senator Kashim Shettima.

Borno: In Zulum’s shoes, what else would you do?

By Isa Gusau – August 10, 2020.
 
Before reacting to that question-headline, please, take a little while to walk in the ‘shoes’ of Borno governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum.
 

A few persons have been writing to condemn what they perceive as Zulum’s political incorrectness. They refer to the governor’s expression of concern over ceaseless killings of the people he serves and swore to protect; and on gun shots directed at him and his convoy in Baga. “The governor plays to the gallery”, one of them wrote.
 
In my understanding, the problem of these critics is not the merit of Zulum’s concern, but that ‘he speaks in public to undermine the military.’ In other words, Zulum should only raise security issues at closed-door meetings.
 
Well, if my school mate, pastor Samuel were to respond to one of the articles, he would certainly employ a prayer-quote: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do [or write about Zulum].”
 
Anyway, here is what we know. It is a quick and chronicled background to being in Zulum’s ‘shoes’.
 
On Thursday, May 30, 2019, Zulum’s first activity as Governor, was a closed-door meeting in Maiduguri with the military’s top command, leading the fight against Boko Haram. Afterwards, he summoned a security meeting with traditional rulers.
 
On Friday, June 7, 2019, Zulum attended an expanded national security meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Villa. It was Zulum’s first. As expected, Boko Haram topped the presidential closed-door meeting.
 
On Wednesday, June 19, 2019, Zulum requested and met President Buhari for one-on-one closed-door meeting, during which the governor tabled issues on Boko Haram’s resurgence in Borno.
 
On Friday, August 23, 2019, in the wake of simultaneous killings by Boko Haram in Gubio, Magumeri and Konduga LGAs, Zulum returned to the presidential villa for a second one-on-one closed-door meeting with President Buhari. Zulum expressed reservations over the military’s new idea of concentrating troops in ‘super-camps’ rather than the operational strategies they used in gaining grounds back in 2016. The previous day, Thursday, August 22, Zulum had met the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, over the same issue.
 
On Wednesday, February 12, 2020, Zulum had private sessions with President Buhari in Maiduguri. The President had paid empathy visit to Borno, over Boko Haram’s massacre of 30 travellers at Auno.
 
On Thursday April 9, 2020, Zulum was back to the villa for another one-on-one closed-door meeting with President Buhari, to discuss implications of President Derby’s led Chadian onslaught on Boko Haram. Zulum was concerned that insurgents in Chadian territory were fleeing into Nigerian portion in the shores of Lake Chad.
 
On Monday, June 15, 2020 (an interval of five weeks) Zulum returned to the presidential villa for another one-on-one closed-door meeting with President Buhari. This time, Boko Haram attacked and massacred more than 80 villagers in Gubio.
 
In 15 months, Governor Zulum had at least five one-on-one closed-door meetings with Nigeria’s President, Commander-in-Chief, over security issues in Borno, and at least 20 private sessions with the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai. These were aside regular phone calls.
 
Zulum has held series of one-on-one meetings with other service chiefs, and the Minister of Defence.
 
Zulum has held hundreds of one-on-one meetings with successive theater commanders, GOCs, brigade commanders and other top military officers in charge of ‘Operation Lafiya Dole’, the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army, and brigades across Borno.
 
In January 2020, Zulum had travelled to N’Djamena, Chad, for closed-door meetings with commanding officers at the headquarters of the Multinational Joint Task Force.
 
Zulum had declared an official day of statewide fasting and prayers (Monday, February 24, 2020) to seek divine intervention for the military’s peace building efforts to succeed. Muslims and Christians in Borno and beyond, responded to the governor’s call with a fast that Monday.
 
To match prayers with action, in barely 15 months, Zulum approved the procurement and deployment of almost 400 Toyota Hilux vehicles to the fight against Boko Haram. These vehicles are critical to the operations of the military, other security forces and volunteers in the fight against Boko Haram. The Borno State Government regularly supports these operational vehicles with fuel and maintenance.
 
Zulum also supports families of soldiers, especially those killed in combat. The governor makes it a habit to pay morale boosting visits and to offer welfare support to military formations in all his many humanitarian trips across the 27 local government areas in Borno.
 
Openly, Zulum pays tribute to gallant soldiers.
 
At the government house in Maiduguri, Zulum accords special treatment to military commanders and heads of other security establishments. With or without appointments, military heads walk to Zulum’s office anytime the need arises, and the governor suspends everything else. He attends to requests, often for ‘logistics’, brought by security heads, and he is particular about the military’s.
 
So much is the governor’s commitment that the Chief of Army Staff, Buratai, on Sunday, May 24, 2020, publicly described Zulum’s support for the military as being “immeasurable.”
 
Before the COAS, Nigeria’s Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd) said on Monday, December 16, 2019, that the Nigerian military was happy to have in Zulum, “a governor that is very versatile and dedicated in the operational activities of fighting Boko Haram.” Magashi also spoke in public.
 
Zulum’s commitment transcends the military.
 
In his first week as governor, Zulum increased the monthly allowances of thousands of volunteers in the Civilian JTF, hunters and vigilantes. Zulum re-equipped the volunteers and recruited more across all LGAs. He knows they critically support the military.
 
Zulum even created a rapid response squad, equipped with operational vehicles, and armed volunteers.
 
The governor also established a security trust fund, hosted a north-east strategy summit on security, and when invited, attends all security related programmes, in and outside Borno.
 
However, in the midst of all these strategic meetings, series of security interventions and politically-correct consultations, one thing remained unchanged – hundreds of people in Borno are continually massacred by Boko Haram and communities sacked. Gun shots were directed at the governor in Baga, where army commanders confirmed to Zulum, that there was no Boko Haram. So, who fired the shots: non-existent Boko Haram, soldiers, or ghosts?
 
Yet, abductions and videotaped executions continued.
 
Now, which leader, with undiluted conscience, would remain silent because of political-correctness? Who would speak for bereaved and displaced communities? Whose voice, above the governor’s, would loudly call for the decisive action needed in Borno?
 
In a nutshell, if in Zulum’s shoes, what else would you do?
 
Isa Gusau is Special Adviser on Public Relations and Strategy to Governor Babagana Umara Zulum of Borno State.

MAGU: AS FRANKINSTEIN MONSTER

By Inuwa Bwala

I hardly know Ibrahim Magu, embattled Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, but I have heard a lot about him, long before he came to national cum international limelight. As his kinsman from Borno, I have keenly followed his outing as chairman of the EFCC and I dare say that I was impressed, not until the allegations against him came to the fore.

I have also taken note of developments surrounding his unceremonious removal from office, his ongoing probe and subsequent detention. While others seem to be giving the issue political interpretations, our people are getting embarrassed, that, somebody who seemed to be giving us positive signals in our collective quests to change negative perceptions about us, is today being paraded as a common criminal, wrongly or rightly.

Without prejudice to what may turn out to be the findings of the panel probing him, and the eventual actions the Government may take, I am of the view that, the Government needs to tread more carefully in handling the Magu saga, as it has potentials of setting key players in the Government against each other and possibly of expose bigger and more consequential scandals.

I know as a matter of fact that, in adopting anti-corruption as the mantra of this Government, President Muhammadu Buhari might have probably felt embarrassed as a leader of a Nigeria that was rated as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. In reacting to that summation, our leaders cried wolves but decided to play the ostrich, apparently not ready to remedy the situation. The forces that brought Magu might have been confident that he was better suited for the job of adding value to the fight.

Of course, like every mortal, Magu could not have been a saint in a society that is itself thoroughly corrupt. He had his foible and Achilles heels, hence the mistakes, or better still Magu might have succumbed to the general norm which have tended to evade our values. In dealing with the situation, the President needs to personally intervene, knowing that, the narrative is already to the effect that, Magu is a victim of power play.

One does not have to be interested in the forces at play, that brought Ibrahim Magu to spearhead the fight as Chairman of the EFCC, but Nigerians generally regarded it as a bold move. The Government had been so impressed with Magu, and encouraged him on, even at the risk of branding the EFCC as the Government’s hunt dog against perceived opponents and critics. Even Magu’s critics seem to agree, that the EFCC under him was better than it had ever been.

Making an enemy out of a friend who knows so much about one’s activities, is a potentially very costly blunder. Removing Ibrahim Magu from office in the manner it was carried out and making a mockery of all that he had done could turn Magu into the virtual Frankenstein monster of the Government. Even if it was in presence, having danced with him in the euphoria of EFCC’s conquests, presupposes that there were mutual secrets shared with him.

The Government may be shooting itself in the foot if she pushes Magu too much, compelling him to reveal those secrets. Already, the global perspective focuses on the seeming irony in the Magu saga, to the effect that, the same Government that used Magu to propagate its agenda seem to have suddenly discovered that, the Borno State born Police officer was not after all the saint they had hitherto portrayed him to be.

When a blind man challenges an eyed man to a game of stone throwing, he might have already rested his foot on a ready stone, which he will use in the game. Ibrahim Magu’s bold stance in the face of the allegations against him should send the signal that he is ready for the game of throwing stones. Already, there are emergent issues, which may be tending towards rubbishing Abubakar Malami, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation; Ibrahim Magu’s accuser in chief.

There is a general perception, that, no matter how solid may be Ibrahim Magu’s defenses, the justice Ayo Salami investigative panel is set to nail him. There are strong indications that it may be long before Magu smells freedom: perhaps not in the life of this administration. However long it takes for him to be free, he will eventually speak and when it does, I fear the contents may not be too palatable.

Ibrahim Magu is no doubt a brilliant police officer, with a potentially bright future, making him the fall guy in the political Chess game will be a great disservice to the nation and most uncharitable to his family. Many potentially resourceful professionals have fallen victims of the power play amongst our political leaders, adding Magu to the list is to further deplete our human resources, especially in the crime fighting organ. Just a word of caution…

Inuwa Bwala is a journalist, author and Publisher of National Trail Newspaper.