This is very likely the question on many Nigerian lips. For some reason, Professor Babagana Zulum has emerged the undisputed ‘big-time spender’ among our state governors. And this has not been the tradition in Nigeria. What we know is that state governors are always broke, most of them never have enough to pay workers or to complete projects they either initiated or inherited from their predecessors.
Anytime the question of minimum wage arises, state governors are always the first to declare their inability to fund it. They seek every reason to arrive at Aso Rock Villa, cap in hand, to ask for money from the federation till or the Paris Club refund or whatever gigantic ATM can satisfy their needs.
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Our former finance minister Dr Ngozi Iweala attested to this when she said that our governors were the reason Nigeria couldn’t invest her excess crude account into anything worthwhile. She said they convinced former president Goodluck Jonathan to share the money, and so it was shared between them and the federal government.
According to Dr Iweala this is the reason other petroleum exporting countries were able to even build new cities and invest in other wise ventures with that largess, but Nigeria has nothing to show for all that accrued to us during the period.
Now suddenly we are faced with a governor for whom money doesn’t seem to be a problem. His workers get paid unfailingly before every month end, widows of slain officers and civilian JTF are given money and homes and scholarship for their kids. He is so rich he completed about 320 projects in one year; and has been returning internally displaced people back to their reconstructed communities in the last several months.
So the question that needs asking is: how does he do it? If he was a Deribe or an Indimi, I’d say he’s just deploying family wealth in the service of his home state. But we all know that Professor Zulum was no silver spoon. By his own admission, he did a number of odd jobs to fund his education, so he was truly of a humble stock.
In this case, therefore, the obvious answer to our question is that Governor Babagana Zulum is using only his FAAC allocation from the federal coffers, and whatever internally generated revenue is possible from an insurgency-ravaged state like Borno, to do the magic.
And if that is the case, then all Nigerians need to ask their governors this one question: where does our FAAC allocation go?
We must ask them why most of them are unable to do much with what they get while Governor Zulum seems able to do so much despite the security challenges and the special task of reconstruction and feeding of IDPs his government has to do.
Borno indigenes and other residents are certainly grateful to their former governor, Senator Kashim Shetima, for singlehandedly picking and annointing Professor Zulum as his successor.
While to them he’s a miracle-worker, to the rest of us he’s the yard stick by which we will measure other governors from now on.