SIR: I know he is an academic, a professor and former rector of Ramat Polytechnic, Borno State. He was also commissioner for Reconstruction under the immediate past Governor Kashim Shettima. But where did this man called Babagana Umara Zulum emerge from? How come he is doing unusual, uncommon things and being very modest about it? Do they still make them like this?
President Muhammadu Buhari was in Maiduguri, Borno State, a fortnight ago to commission some (just some) projects already completed by the Zulum administration. It was like streams in a desert, a breath of fresh air in a milieu once overtaken by death and destruction, caused by the Boko Haram insurgency.
With the state in which he inherited Borno State, which has been the epicenter of insurgency since 2009, it is easy, very easy, for Zulum to have done nothing in terms of development. And he would have a good excuse, a smokescreen, and alibi. We are spending all the money to provide security for our people. They need to be alive first, before we can talk of development. And he would smile daily to the bank. But the palm frond flourishes and luxuriates amidst thorns.
Despite the humongous resources being deployed to combat insecurity, great developmental strides are also being taken, because Zulum is not squirreling everything away, building a tidy nest for himself and generations unborn. It is said that while he was the commissioner for Reconstruction, Zulum still lived in the family house. He hadn’t built a home for himself. No wonder he became governor, and is serving with heart and might, despite the grave challenges. Buhari, who was a military governor of the old Borno State, had very kind words for Zulum when he visited. A man parsimonious with praises, the President said the host was forthright, resilient and committed to development, despite the security challenges confronting the state.
The President said the governor takes huge personal risks to promote peace and development, spending nights with the vulnerable and displaced. And I ask again: Where did this man emerge from? It’s never done like that here.
With public officers like Zulum, confidence is rekindled in Nigeria. Not everyone is a thief. Not everyone is a plunderer. If what we see in Borno now happens under the miasma of insecurity, what will then happen when peace and amity returns, which will inexorably happen?
I suspect that Zulum, God willing, would be around for a long time to come, growing from strength to strength. I’m not a prophet, but I believe that we would be hearing from this servant of the people for a lot longer time in the political realm.
Femi Adesina is special adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity.