Borno: Zulum and his professors in local government
Borno: Zulum and his professors in local government

By Martins Oloja
Borno: Zulum and his professors in local government
Borno State governor, Babagana Zulum. Photo: TWITTER/GOVBORNO
I would like to overlook the gloom in the land of my birth today so that I can revisit an emerging significant story again about Borno State where the governor continues to inspire his people with good deeds nurtured by good thinking. I have devoted several topics to Zulum and his politics here. Don’t get it twisted, Zulum isn’t an impresario or an attention seeker. As I was saying, I have never met or spoken with him or his agents or aides. Only the works and services of the significant scholar in Borno State government house have impressed me. Don’t begin to think that his bribes have made a way for him regularly here. Even in classical and modern public relations management, let your works and products make a way for you. And now to the brass tacks: You must have heard that two professors and one doctorate degree holder, among other very educated citizens have just been elected local government council chairpersons in Borno state.
According to some background pieces on the election, this development marks the first time to have candidates with that level of education vying to occupy such political offices in the history of Borno State. Also sworn in was a PhD holder, Ali Lawan Yaumi, for Magumeri alongside other holders of post-graduate and first degrees who will govern the Borno embattled grassroots with experienced grassroots politicians.

Specifically, the two professors were among the 27 successful candidates who won on Saturday, November 28 local government council polls conducted by the Borno State Independent Electoral Commission (BOSIEC). The professors are both from the southern part of Borno State – a district generally rated as the most educationally advanced in the state. The scholars are Adamu Alooma and Ibrahim Bukar. Alooma, who is a Professor of banking and finance, and a former Dean, at the Faculty of Management Sciences, University of Maiduguri, took oath as chairman of Damboa Local Government Area. Bukar, who is a Professor of education, also at the same university, took an oath as chairman of Gwoza Local Government Area.

During the swearing in ceremony of the chairmen, which took place at the multipurpose hall of the Government House in Maiduguri on Saturday, December 19, 2020, Zulum recalled that election was not conducted in the state for over 10 years, no thanks to the lingering security situation in Borno.

Zulum, in his remark, directed the ministry for local government and emirate affairs to immediately release to the elected chairmen, all funds allocated to the 27 local government councils from the federation account so that they could begin to impact lives at the grassroots. He, however, called on the elected officials to discharge their duties with the fear of God, but without fear or favour.

‘Why Governor Zulum’s bold action on corrupt soldiers should be emulated by his peers’.
This was the synopsis on my GuardianTV exclusive Inside Stuff commentary in January this year when the same Governor Zulum hit the headlines for another right reason:

It is not every day that you get to hear of a governor confronting corrupt security agents, who rather than protect hapless residents, use their position to exploit them. But that was exactly what Governor Babagana Umara Zulum did recently when he confronted some corrupt officers of the Nigerian Army who were extorting motorists in Borno…Today, in ‘Inside Stuff’, multi- award winning columnist and Head of The Guardian Editorial Board, Martins Oloja explains why every Nigerian governor should borrow a leaf from the Borno chief executive… (The GuardianTV Exclusive 13 January, 2020). It will be recalled too that, that was an icing on the cake to the article I wrote here on Sunday, January 12, 2020: titled, ‘Governor Zulum as a spring of hope’, reproduced below: ‘Management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right things’ (Peter Drucker). “If you put good people in bad systems, you get bad results. You have to water the flowers you want to grow.” (Steven Covey)

“In this our topsy-turvy country where Stephen Covey would have noted how we confuse efficiency with effectiveness, expediency with priority, imitation with innovation, cosmetics with character, pretence with competence, it is a time to reflect too on how to stop what Benjamin Franklin too calls ‘great talkers, little doers’ syndrome in this country.

Similarly, it is a time to break away from the sophistry of the enemies of state who continue to confuse integrity with competence, oratory with oracle… I mean it is a time to identify most of our good people who work in our bad systems, which continue to produce bad results for Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, our Nigeria.

As I was saying as an ‘Apostle of Hope’ for this great country, I continue to see hope in a few significant people who may not be prominent at this time. I have quoted Rick Warren, several times here. According to the famous ‘Prophet of Purpose’, as TIME tags him, some people are prominent but not significant, while some are significant but not prominent. He posits in his classic, The purpose driven life that God the Almighty is more interested in significant people (to prepare to be part of His kingdom). And so, the US-based cleric and author says people should seek to live a life of significance, rather than a life of prominence.

Behold, it is a time to appeal to all our good people to freeze partisan politics, swallow our pride and vanity and begin to identify emerging young and good leaders in different sectors who can be tapped tomorrow to rebuild this country. It is not enough to make so much noise across platforms in the name of the power that citizen journalism has given. There are so many social media platforms where we just tell so many tales every hour, like the ones told by idiots, as Shakespeare put it, which are ‘full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’.

Let’s reflect on this: It is not true that we do not have enough young leaders from all the six-geo-political zones who can run the country and the 36 federating states. The trouble is simply and squarely with the political recruitment system, which enables only unscrupulous dealers to emerge as leaders at most levels. The electoral system and the appointing authorities have become so perverted that it appears to us every day that dealing with electoral impurities in the country is as difficult as forcing a stream to flow uphill. It is not. We need to reject this notion by freezing our fault lines – religion and ethnicity. We need to gather and organise political burials for all those who are using their positions to keep Nigeria down. Don’t be deceived by your perception of the many faces of bigotry. The criminal gangs in Nigeria have no religion and they have no ethnic genre. They are a cabal too. They are everywhere we go. The perverted power elite, the thieves of state are in all the six geo-political zones in the country. They are in our families. They are in all the political parties. They are all criminals – who don’t want Africa to be great. If Nigeria can’t make it, Africa and indeed the black race are doomed as the iconic Madiba himself once noted. Let me repeat how Nelson Mandela warned about the danger of keeping Nigeria down by some principalities and do-nothing powers: ‘The world will not respect Africa until Nigeria earns that respect. The black people of the world need Nigeria to be great as a source of pride and confidence…’

Let’s not be deceived, the political class we have been looking up to, since 1999 can’t develop Nigeria to the extent of making Africa to earn global respect. The black people of the world will be ‘Waiting for Godot’ if they are dreaming of Nigeria’s greatness as a source of pride and confidence. The current leaders in Nigeria at all levels have failed us. They are cankerworms. They are locusts. They are termites. They can’t rebuild what they have destroyed – since 1966 through 1999 till date. And so we should begin to look for our Cyrus, our Nehemiah, our Ezra, the classical leaders who taught the world about restoration, reconstruction and pulling down of strongholds to develop countries that desperately wicked enemies have ruined. It is a serious business as I was saying, beyond social media laments.

It is a time to appeal to our turn-by-turn leadership activists that we need an urgent cognitive restructuring. Yes, we need to renew our minds about the so-called ‘rotational mediocrity’ that has kept us down. Here is the thing, if we continue to fight for rotational leadership without retiring the criminal gangs of the federation with tentacles in all the 36 states and 774 local governments, we will continue to make the mistakes Covey warned us about: putting good people in bad systems, and getting bad results. We should therefore begin to water the flowers we want to grow everywhere in Nigeria.

We should stop blaming President Buhari for failing to give us what he doesn’t have (we didn’t know all that). We should stop blaming ourselves too. We should keep hope alive and thank God for allowing us to know in time that we can be naïve too and overrate candidates’ integrity and follow false prophets, after all.

So, let’s get cracking before the criminal gangs of the federation outsmart us again. They are already strategising for 2023 – 2027, even when they are still clueless about what to do with 2019-2023.

We should begin to trail our leaders from Calabar to Sokoto. We have identified Governor Seyi Makinde in Oyo State, in South West, as a leader to watch. It is not about his ‘wonder party’ platform. It is about his deeds. He has within six months become a symbol of disciplined leadership, a surprise package. He is being watched. It is not a time to praise him. ‘May his road be rough’, as the iconic Tai Solaarin would have prayed for him to succeed.

Doubtless, this is a tipping point, where we have to appreciate the significance of Peter Drucker’s master class on management and leadership. He says, ‘management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right things’. The warning about poverty of leadership in Nigeria was handed to us in 1983 when Chinua Achebe, the legend, noted point blank in a classic that, ‘The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership’. We have never addressed this reproach 37 years on…”

##Read the remaining 613 words of the original January 12, 2020 article on as we reflect on the significance of Zulum’s strategy in attracting very educated citizens to Local Government Councils, which should be the focal points of our development efforts. Our governors should study the management model of their colleague, Zulum who is attracting good and educated people to local government service instead of the National Assembly, etc. ‘All politics is local’ according to Tip O’Neill, former U.S House Speaker. That is what Zulum is implementing.

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