Its not often that people like us come out to appreciate and praise public office holders, Those in our school of thought who are christened die hard and unrepentant critics hardly find anything praise worthy in public officers doing the work which they canvassed votes for and also in which they handsomely receive remuneration. Its even more difficult rendering such praises to the crop of leaders that we have in contemporary Nigeria.
Reason is simply predicated on the fact that most of the so called leaders have shown the people terrible and unforgtettable things that it becomes absolutely herculean to administer such praise to them even when they do that which ordinarily should be their major responsibilities as elected leaders.
But one Governor has stood out in the lot of the thirty six Governors of the federation and he is Professor Babagana Zulum of Borno state.
Some of the things that this professor of a Governor is doing is what we witnessed with nostalgia are the things been done during the military regime where some of the then military Governors who were dedicated and ruthless will go to any extent to serve the people to the very best of their ability , even at the threat and detriment of their lives.
And that was exactly how Professor Zulum started his tenure as the Governor and chief executive of the turbulent Borno state. First on assumption of office, just few days he arrived at work very early in the morning, the time when dedicated civil servants suppose to have resumed and be at their desk. The Governor took time to go round the offices at the state secrtariat and behold most of the workers have not resumed work by 8:30am.
The Governor did not find that funny . So dissappointed and aggrieved that he registered his displeasure and disenhantmnet. He meted out commusurate punishment to serve as deterent and serve as a warning to every civil servant in Borno state that a new sheriff is in town.
This is how its suppose to be . Leaders should lead by example without necessarily sounding grandiose or playing to the gallery.
As that was not enough towards the end of last year the Governor on getting information and security reports of the atrocities of some Army personnel on road patrol who instead of providing security to the people and the state were busy extorting N1000 per person from motorists who were traveling on the road.
The Governor led few members of his cabinet to confront the Army and demanded explanation and stoppage of the extortion.
Watching the video clips of the confrontation of the Governor with gun throttling Army personnel one could but fear for the life and safety of this brave and selfless Governor. In a country where impunity and lawlessness pervades anything could have happened to the Governor and his entourage and nothing will come out of it as the country is gradually graduating to a country of anything goes with many unresolved extra judicial killings!
While the dust of that one was about settling down the Governor was at it again when he paid an unannounced and unscheduled visit to the Internally Displaced People(IDP) camp. The Governor who arrived at the IDP camp around 10: 15pm when most Governors and public officers were busy snoring away from first round of sleep was there to see things for himself and not depend on reports and hear say from his aides and lieutenants.
He took time to go round the different sections of the camp and by so doing he got first hand information on the challenges of the people and ferret out solutions to the problems.
The Governor did not just end there with words of mouth, he gifted the people with blankets,mats and clothing materials that will make their lives more comfortable and also cushion the adverse effeects of the hard weather conditions particularly in this season of harmattan and cold that pervades the open camp area the people are subjected to. In fact he spent the night in the IDP Camp to have a feeling of what it means to sleep in such an environment!
The Governor gave words of comfort and hope to the people by assuring them that neccessary plans and efforts are being made to resettle them back to their villages and communities so that they can resume lives as normal citizens.
Worthy of note here is that this professor Governor of the turbulent Bornu state which is at the heart of the internecine insurgency war of Boko Haram and other religious fundamentalism is not resting on his oars to see that this carnage on Borno state is stopped .
As such on assumption of office he vowed to comfront the Boko Haram insurgents headlong to see that the insurgency which has dragged Borno state several years backward is reduced to the barerest minimum if not finally stopped. It must be pointed out here that not all the Governors of the state have come out to voice out and work hard towards the elimination of the deadly sect.
Further to boost the security of the war torn Borno state Professor Zulum has established a local security out fit codenamed BOYES( Borno Youth Volunteers) to compliment and boost the efforts of the Nigerian army and police in the war against insurgency and tackling other security challenges of the troubled state. Here young men and women are recruited and kitted to face the issue of security headlong in the state. Arms and ammunitions are also provided to the security outfit to ease their job of providing security to the people. In addition the Governor has recruited about ten thousand hunters that are believed to have innate powers to smoke out members of Boko Haram and other criminal elements in the state and deal with them.
These are some of the major highlights of this professor Governor but feelers from people of Bornu state indicate that the Governor has been working assidiously underground to better the lives of the good people of the state.
Reports abound how the Governor is consistently opening up many hirtherto places with roads and other modern day amenities. Schools and hospitals are receiving facelifts.
Civil servants are now paid promptly in the state as this Professor of a Governor has come out to say he does not consider payment of salaries and pension as an achievement and a big deal!
To him payment of salaries is a debt government owes workers who have served the state as such government paying for services rendered by law abiding civil servants who signed contract with government to work for hours, days, weeks and be paid for their work at the end of the month!
What Nigerians should note here is that this wonderful Governor has since accepted to pay newly promulgated and approved N30′ 000 minimum wage! This is coming in the heels of many states still owing several months of salary arrears from the old minimum wage!
It is in the heart of all these that some people are dancing and jubilating that this Professor of a Governor will definitely make a difference and impact in governance when juxtaposed with the crop of leaders we have in this very political dispensation.
But just like every other good thing that normally dont last in Nigeria, some people are afraid for the life of this gentleman . The way and manner he is going about the business of governance is alien and unpreccedented in the normal way of governance in Nigera. It is different from what obtains in most states of the federation. People are afraid that two things may befall him. First they fear that his life may be cut in its prime by detractors and evil minded people who may not be comfortable with his style of leadership. The second fear is that he may be set up by same detractors who may use insiders in his government to frame him up with things that he may not know anything about. Thus opening the doors for EFCC and DSS to pounce on him and thereby truncating the good works he has been doing.
This is where the vigilance of the good people of Borno state is called upon. Having undegone hellish conditions of living in the past fifteen years or thereabout they should be alert to the antics of the detractors and give this once upon a life time Governor and administrator par excellence the support and cooperation he needs to keep on the good work that he is doing . Anything short of this will further drag the state backwards to almost a state of abyss or even extinction.
The question that readily comes to mind now is why is Professor Zulum putting his life down and performing with such gusto, a trend that is hard to find in the contemporary crop of Nigerian leaders. The answer may not far fetched as the answer may be found in the nature and character of the Governor. It may not have anything to do with his famed academic prowess and brillant scholarship exhibitions as an erudite professor. After all we have had professors who have been Governors and who Nigerians saw how they conducted themselves and governed their states. Not even delving into the distant past, presently we have one professor as a Governor in a state in the South-South and Nigerians know his achievements which prominent among them includes the incarceration of a journalist Agba Jalingo on trumped up charges!
If people will come to public service with the mind that Professor Zulum brings to office in no distant time Nigeria will be a great country.
With individuals and personalities like Professor Zulum if peradventure he aspires to the office of the president of this country, Nigerians will not think twice to vote for him. Why he will attract millions of votes is that most Nigerians will not care the state, region he comes from or even the religion he profess. What they know is that once such an individual ascends the presidency he will perform to the best of his ability and conscience.
With the kind trends currently going on in Borno state this kind of professor and Governor will step on toes having had the temerity and audacity to challenge and confront the gun wielding Army publicly thereby laying down his life to be sacrificed just for the libertaion and betterment of the people he is governing. He will not only end there he will discard and scatter the so called fearful and untouchable Cabal. Thus putting an end to the fabled and feared mafias that have been pulling down the progress of this country for a long time.
And that is the kind of a leader Nigeria needs at this perilious and crucial time of his life and nationhood.