Abeni Aso-Oke

Re: Zulum, Engineering Professor, Dexterity and the Courage of Conviction. By Prof MK Othman

Prof. Zulum. Gov. Borno State
Abeni Aso-Oke

It is time to pause and allow readers to air their views on the many issues featured in this Column. This week and next, I will share some of my readers’ views to give broader perspectives on the issues discussed in this Column. One of the critical issues was that of Borno State Governor Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum. He is a governor of the most troubled state, Borno, due to insurgency and the effects of climate change. To see the evidence, compare the current map of Lake Chad with that of 50 years ago. In the last one and half decades, 100,000s people were displaced; some were orphaned, widowed, incapacitated, had broken families, and lost hope, while many migrated out of the state until a salvage materialized. Zulum emerged from the obscurity of the academic arena through agility and the courage of conviction. He took the gauntlet as a rector of a polytechnic, a soft spot for Boko Haram’s destructive target at a time when Borno State was over 50% occupied by Boko Haram—insurgents.
Against all odds, Zulum swam out of a man-eating, crocodile-infested river. His down-the-line admirers and adversaries granted him high-pitch applause for his fantastic performance in the most challenging environment with cut-throat risks. Zulum escaped many known and unknown, overt and covert, revealed and unrevealed assassination attempts. As his adversaries try to quench Zulum’s developmental efforts, millions of his admirers within and outside Nigeria are praying for his success, protection, and the emergence of more Zulums in Nigeria’s leadership positions. Yours sincerely is one of such admirers. Nigerians desperately crave good leadership to take the country out of the woods. Zulum’s performance as a leader provides two key lessons. First, Nigeria is not a hopeless case; Zulum can be found in every community nationwide. Second, good leadership is possible in Nigeria, it can lead to prudent resource management and sound initiatives for salvaging the country. However, the choice of leaders is the sole responsibility of the electorate, which should be discharged devoid of selfishness and self-centeredness. Are we ready to lead the vanguard? As mentioned in my 2-piece article, Zulum executed over 700 impactful capital projects across the 27 local government areas of the state within five years of his administration. Last month, December 11th, 2023, Zulum, the most innovative and creative governor, introduced 107 electric and gas commercial buses and taxis at highly subsidized and affordable prices in Borno State to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal. He is the only governor known to have provided such palliatives to his people.
My article on Zulum attracted massive commendations with few indignations. I am sharing a few of these views that reflect diversity. Happy reading.

Dear Prof Othman,
You made an excellent write-up on the person of Prof. Zulum. My encounter with him was also when he was the Rector of Ramat Polytechnic. We were engaged as consultants for the AfDB component of Fadama II completion reports in Katsina, Jigawa, and Borno states. He was to cover the infrastructure while I looked at advisory services. My experience in preparing the infrastructure and asset acquisition component during the preparation period earned me recognition and appreciation from Governor Zulum. Yet I did not know that he was the then-current Rector. We became friends when I joined him in his vehicle, clearly written Ramat Polytechnic, Maiduguri, while my NPFS vehicle followed us. He thought I was a Director, which I kept telling him I was not. I was a chief Engineer then at the Bar. He told me he married from Funtua town after his NYSC in Katsina State, not knowing that his wife is a cousin to my wife. While in Jigawa, he invited me out to Sahad stores. Whatever he picked, he insisted that I pick it. I was conscious of my pocket. Could you believe he paid a large sum of money for my items? I kept wondering what kind of man was he. I assumed he was a very generous personality and was an excellent leader because of how he executed the assignment. I prayed for him to be given high leadership responsibility one day. On reaching Maiduguri, he housed us in a big and safe hotel staffed by men of the armed forces, with all our meals. He made us leave our vehicles and arranged a car that took us to and from the venue of our meetings. Ultimately, he booked a business-class seat for me and my colleagues on economy-class flights back to Abuja. Could you believe that was a closed chapter? I called to express my appreciation without a response.
That time, my colleague from Maiduguri was my neighbor in the office, another respected personality. I shared my pleasant experience with him and wanted to express my profound gratitude for Zulum’s amazing hospitality. My colleague said Zulum knew I was itching to express my pleasure, but he is the type that whatever he does is because of Allah, that Zulum hardly refers back to it, and that he doesn’t like excessive appreciation. Till the end of my life, I will, in Shaa Allah, continue to pray for him to succeed in his service to God and humanity.
Engr Hassan Bawa, Abuja

Abeni Aso-Oke

Your write-up on Zulum is a masterpiece and a glean of Column, and I hope Nigeria will get leaders like him. Keep it up, Prof.
Yunus Sakpe, Badegi

Keep up the good work Prof
Abubakar Gambo Garkuwa

Abeni Aso-Oke

Honestly, Governor Zulum is a leader with the fear of God. He has proved that good leadership is possible in Nigeria.
Engr Ugama Godwin, Zaria

We need more patriotic, generous, loyal, honest, and hardworking personalities like Zulum at the helm of affairs to have sustainable peace and development in Nigeria. Thank you for constantly educating, motivating, and enlightening us with your excellent, outstanding, and resourceful articles (columns). I wish you more golden ink to the golden pen of our erudite, hardworking, resourceful, and amiable Prof. M. K. Othman. May Almighty Allah guide, bless, and protect us. Amen. I wish Zulum more blessings and achievements.
Abdullahi Abubakar, Zaria

Prof. Othman, it is an excellent write-up. Still, not everyone in Borno will praise these milestone achievements recorded by Zulum, especially if your local government has been perpetually sidelined or neglected for no justifiable reason.
How many of the over 700 impactful projects are in Kwaya Kusar, Bayo, or Hawul local government areas? No rural feeder road or noteworthy water or housing project exists in these areas. The nine local government areas in Southern Borno need something tangible to prove the writer’s right. Federal roads have almost completely disappeared and been replaced by water runoff channels, rills, and gullies. The successive state government administrations never deemed it fit to fix or reconstruct the roads as in other states and sought a refund from the federal government.
I would be delighted if you, Prof, would publish my comment in your Column. The chronicles of neglect and near abandonment are disheartening, especially with the widespread publicity of the lopsided developmental and infrastructural provisions, which are disseminated to give the impression of a statewide and equitable distribution of projects in Borno State.
God bless you, Prof, for your effort.
Gana Dibal, Abuja

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