Zulum vindicates Kashim Shettima

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Babagana Zulum and Kashim Shettima

When Kashim Shettima as the governor of Borno State endorsed Professor Babagana Zulum as his preferred successor at the eve of the state governorship primaries of the All Progressives Congress, his pronouncement raised dust. He was accused by some of the aspirants to the state seat of power of partisanship, beating the gun and stirring the hornet’s nest.

In an unusual statement before the primaries, Governor Shettima admitted that among the aspirants numbering over twenty, were his relatives, admirers, known seasoned technocrats, bureaucrats and renowned politicians qualified for number one citizen position of the state.

However, Shettima added that he chose to cast his lot on Professor Zulum based on his (Shettima) “own human but informed analysis”.

Part of Shettima’s statement reads: “In the last couple of days, I have come under intense pressure from many stakeholders insisting that I should anoint a successor. In all discussions, I have maintained one divine statement, which is, only Allah gives power to whom He pleases and at the time He pleases. I, Kashim Shettima am but human, a first amongst equals, I do not and cannot give power. I can only make recommendations based on my own human but informed analysis. Even at that, my recommendation cannot foreclose the fundamental right of any legitimate aspirant to contest the primary election.

“From the generality of feedback, there is no doubt that what will define political debates in Borno’s 2019 governorship election will be promises in the aftermath of brutal conflict, deaths and destruction of communities.

“Everywhere in the world, post conflict rehabilitation, restoration, reconciliation & resettlement are complex, composite and interwoven.

“With humility and absolute respect for all aspirants, I would like to say that from overwhelming opinions and feedback, the aspirant with an edge in understanding the peace-Development Nexus of Borno’s post conflict future is Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, mni, FNSE.

“As Commissioner for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement since September 2015, Professor Zulum has been in the thick of our recovery and restoration efforts. He has proved to understand the dynamics. He has established an enormous amount of contact in the post conflict development sector and has earned the confidence of local and international stakeholders, Borno needs such confidence in the task of completing our ongoing social and economic recovery of communities and livelihoods.

“For our peculiar situation, Professor Zulum has shown the potential to take Borno State to the next level. His age is also an advantage. At 48, Professor Zulum is in his prime, he is head and shoulders above me in terms of intellect, capacity & indefatigability. Zulum is without the slightest doubt, a workhorse. Professor Zulum’s story in the struggles of life will connect with the electorate. Professor Zulum fought his way from grass to grace. From a humble beginning he hawked firewood to finance his education. Through unusual courage and determination, he is today a Professor of Irrigation Engineering and member of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies.

“It is easy to market Professor Zulum before delegates. If we succeed, In-Sha Allah, we shall go round Borno State, to remind electorates from Gwoza to Chibok, Bama to Damasak, Konduga to Kaga and all over Borno State. We shall tell electorates to look around their neighborhoods and see how Professor Zulum was able to rebuild their communities from thousands of homes, hundreds of schools to healthcare centres and restore their livelihoods at the risk of being attacked by Boko Haram.”

With the governorship primaries over, Shettima had his way with the emergence of Zulum as the APC flag bearer, but the aspirants had their say. In the words of Shakespeare’s Macbeth “The deed is done”. In the state governorship election that followed, Zulum emerged victorious beating the contestants from other political parties.

In his choice of Professor Zulum as his successor Governor Shettima premised his argument amongst others on Zulum as a risk taker, workhorse, capacity and capability and having the understanding and knowledge in the peace-Development Nexus of Borno’s post conflict future.

Today, Zulum has justified the lot cast on him by Shettima. Now in the fifth year in office, Zulum has been an unmitigated workhorse or workaholic in service delivery to the people of Borno especially, in areas relating to the rehabilitation and resettlement of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) or refugees.

His administration has successfully restored and rehabilitated over a million IDPs to their ancestral homes while striving to ensure the teeming rest outside the country and within get the same treatment as he moves from place to place in this quest.

Most time, Governor Zulum is in the local government areas supervising the distribution of palliatives and relief materials to IDPs in bid to ensure that the materials get to the right quarters.

As a result of the vigorous pursuit of the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement programme of the state government a number of the IDPs camps have been closed down and the affected resettled in their permanent abode hitherto deserted.

“In terms of achievement personified, risk taking and brutal frankness, Zulum is tailor made for Shettima”

Zulum remains an adherent to his successor (Shettima’s) philosophy to the IDPs which goes, “I will ever remain and never abandon you, no matter the distress.”

Apart from the daunting task of the restoration programme of the government, Zulum’s administration gives due attention to other sectors which include education, health, environment, housing, trade and industry, youth empowerment, works, water development, manpower development and skill acquisition.

In short, the administration gives attention to both tangible and intangible projects.

So far, about 2,000 projects (tangible) spreading over various sectors have been recorded by Zulum’s administration while the numerous intangible ones are
impacting.

In terms of achievement personified, risk taking and brutal frankness, Zulum is tailor made for Shettima.

For example, recently, a delegation of the Federal Government led by the Minister for Defence Mohammed Bello Matawalle in company of Service Chiefs and others called at the Government House, Maiduguri where the Minister commended Governor Zulum for the immense success recorded by his administration in various sectors in spite of obvious challenges.

He similarly thanked the governor for the invaluable assistance to the military. The Minister unequivocally stated that Zulum sometimes puts his life online for the salvation of his people.

It is a fact that the great strides recorded so far by Zulum’s administration came along with risk taking by the governor in the risk prone and volatile Borno.

On some occasions while on official assignment in some parts of the state, Governor Zulum’s convoy was attacked by gunmen. Even in some places noted as habitat of the insurgents, Governor Zulum like his predecessor, Shettima chose on some occasions to spend some nights in such locations with his convoy, for the purpose of building confidence in the people living in the concerned zones.

He did this in Gwoza in Southern Borno and in Monguno and other places in northern Borno. There were instances where there were reports of attacks by the insurgents or bomb blasts where before the shout of Jack Robinson, Zulum’s presence was instantly registered at the scene. For example, in one of the night attacks by the insurgents on the University of Maiduguri, he showed up the same night less than an hour after the attack to the unbelief of the University staff and students who were still in shock following the attack.

Aside from his risk-taking disposition, the brutal frankness or comments on some issues by Zulum might be consciously or unconsciously risk-laden or inclined. While some would call a spade, a digging accoutrement or material, Zulum with all honesty, would call a spade a spade.

This disposition of Zulum in this regard may not be comforting to some quarters, but that is Zulum whose belief or conviction may be premised on the fact that you cannot make an omelet without breaking the egg.

Head or tail, Zulum is what he is and a vindication of his choice by Kashim Shettima.

Izekor writes from Maiduguri, Borno State