No progressive Nigerian is in any doubt of the potentiality of the victory of Borno state Governor Professor Babagana Umara Zulum in his bid for a second term re-election. In fact, majority of Nigerians see his re-election as a fait accompli.
What is the basis for this nationwide confidence that Zulum is about the only governorship candidate in Nigeria that is regarded as having bagged it, warts and all? Why is the primary school teacher in Niger state so engrossed in his belief that Zulum is home and dry as far as the 2023 elections are concerned? Why is my friend Professor B. Bala of the Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto so sure of the victory of Zulum such that he does not entertain any fear of any underdog springing any surprise? Even the panel beater in Yenogoa believes that Zulum is about the only candidate in the history of elections in Nigeria that has, through dint of hard work, earned a comeback on the basis of sheer suitability.
This pan Nigerian endorsement of a governorship candidate of a state which many people have given off for dead on account of the more than a decade old insurgency is significant in many respects.
For one, it signposted the fact that Nigerians of all ethnic, religious and regional persuasions have the capacity to uniformly endorse a politician based on his track records and without regard to which state he comes from. Again, Nigerians have an opportunity to learn a lesson that adversities and challenges of whatever color cannot totally obliterate the capacity to rise out of such adversities if the right leadership is put in place.
Professor Zulum bursted on to the scene out of the blues. His first day in office was adjudged as the most action-packed in the history of politics in Nigeria, ditto for his one hundred days in office. He executed 120 projects in his 100th day in office, amidst all the barrages of security challenges and financial constraints that have made governance near impossible. Remarkably, since he forced Nigerians to notice him by the loudness of his actions, he has remained etched in their hearts, as admirations and applauses trailed him nonstop.
Despite the fact that he was naturally media shy and not given to blowing his trumpet, just like the golden fish, Zulum has no hiding place. He is one of thirty five other Governors in Nigeria, but his performance level and the popularity that has accompanied these efforts have kept him in the front burner of national discuss, such that one can argue that he had been on the scene as a national figure for ages.
He gave Borno its first fly over bridge at the traffic nightmarish Customs roundabout in the state capital. He spent N4.8 billion on it and is poised to construct another one at the Post Office area – another traffic gridlock roundabout that has defied all attempts to lessen the sufferings of motorists. As if that was not enough a burden considering the lean financial resource base, the Professor has already awarded a contract for the construction of an underpass bridge at the critical Kasuwanci Shanu junction in Maiduguri to deal with the constant accidents that are usually caused by the massive vehicular movement in that axis of the city.
Governor Zulum is the hero that is wrapping up the insurgency that was primed to take Borno to the undertakers, for which the state had to grapple with for upward of a decade. His last job before ascending the office of Governor in 2019 was as Borno state Commissioner of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement – a position which prepared him to know the inner workings of the effort to marshal out a post-insurgency development plan including resettlement of internally displaced persons back to their places of origin, reintegrating them back to their means of livelihoods and ensuring security for them.
He did an excellent job of it. Today, millions of them have since returned home and have been empowered to retake back their houses and jobs.
At the Borno state University, the University teacher himself has broken all records. He not only ensured that the University found its footing in its first year of establishment, he has gone ahead to establish a medical college, built many structures and provided key laboratories, road network and other essentials to make it one of the best state established Universities in Nigeria, regardless of the fact that it is the youngest of them all.
Zulum is, unarguably Nigeria’s most active Governor, driving into ambushes on his ways to hard reach areas of the state where insurgents have held sway, daring them and accomplishing tasks which most men find difficult to even contemplate. Lives were lost in the process of making Borno secure, but they were not lives lost just like that. They were lost in the difficult task to make Borno and Nigeria free from the stranglehold of blood thirsty war lords who wanted to force their jaundiced agenda on the rest of us.
He met a state that was planning to retake its schools back after they were burnt down and pupils sent away after their parents were displaced or killed. He was part of the thinkers who worked hard to save the state and when he became Governor, he continued with the policy of rebuilding educational infrastructure, taking back thousands of pupils and ensuring that a generation was not entirely lost. He constructed several mega boarding primary schools across the state, employed many teachers, the same way he employed hundreds of medical doctors and nurses to man many other hospital he has built to provide world class medical attention to the people of Borno state. Just name it, Zulum has done exceptionally well in all areas such as agriculture, housing, roads construction and empowerment.
These are the basis for the love which Nigerians have for Zulum and for which they justifiably rate him highest in all ramifications. They feel that no Governor that has scored these unprecedented ratings and marks should sweat to gain a re-election. Here is congratulating Professor Babagana Umara Zulum in advance, as, In Shaa Allah, he is declared the winner of the 2023 Governorship election in Borno state.
-Ahmed-BK is a political analyst from Borno State