Zulum: I am not a politician, I became a governor by coincidence - By: . . | Dailytrust

Zulum: I am not a politician, I became a governor by coincidence

Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State
Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State

Professor Babagana Umara Zulum is the Governor of Borno State today. A quick search on his biography said he obtained a degree in Agriculture Engineering from the University of Maiduguri. In 1997, he proceeded for a master’s degree in Agriculture Engineering from the University of Ibadan. He obtained a doctorate degree in Soil and Water Engineering from the University of Maiduguri in 2009. In 2014, Babagana Umara Zulum was appointed a professor. 

So, by training, tutelage, and tutoring, Babagana Zulum is an engineer. But that is not why I like him, nor the main reason for this article. I like him for his boldness, frankness, and plainness of speech, regardless of the audience he is speaking to.

I had the privilege of attending the 19th Daily Trust Dialogue on Thursday, the theme of which was, 2023: The Politics, Economy, and Insecurity. And Professor Babagana Zulum was amongst those that graced the occasion. 

As usual, he made my day in his remarks, by doing justice to the topic of the day, through the disclosure of the nexus existing between politics, economy, and insecurity. Zulum said we must all look beyond party affiliations to address the rot in the system, which rotates around incompetence, ineptitude, and incapacity, including the incapacity to transmit education.

Without any fear of contradiction, and with zeal, energy, and enthusiasm, Zulum told the rich audience at the NAF Conference Centre, Abuja, amongst whom were former Head of state Gen. Abdulsalmi Abubakar, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, and the Sultan of Sakkwato, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, that he is not a politician. He said and I quote, 

“Although I am the governor of Borno state today, I became the governor by coincidence and not the maneuvering, polishing, or vanishing of politics in the pursuit of a career. As I stand before you, and as the year 2023 approaches, the challenge before us should not be who becomes elected as what, but who is qualified to be elected as what. I may be younger than most of the elected leaders in Nigeria today, but I am not aspiring to any position higher than I am today, except if it is destined by God. Unless and until we are ready to set aside differences and go for merit, we shall never get it right in our search for the right leaders”.

Zulum’s remarks paved way for the arrival of the first cheers at the dialogue, which would have continued non-stop had he not stopped, because he was in a hurry to catch up with another appointment elsewhere. But before he left, the professor put forward a query on the country’s political system, in which political powers are vested on individual people on the basis of party patronage and not competence, talent, effort, and achievement.

On the challenges bedevilling Nigeria today, Professor Zulum simply and summarily encapsulated the position of many people that spoke after his departure, a position that came in line with that of the Deputy Senate President, H.E. Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who was in attendance by proxy, thus, “It is indeed not difficult to find a nexus between politics and economy, economy and security, and in fact among the three. There is a tendency for inappropriate politics to occasion an inappropriate economy. An economy that is not doing very well can occasion insecurity, just as the politics of exclusion in whatever manner, whether real or perceived, can also drive insecurity. Thank God the Buhari administration is tirelessly working towards lifting 100 million people out of poverty. As more people are lifted out of poverty, confidence will continue to be restored in the system, and so will fewer children and youth be available for recruitment by workers of evil”.  

In all, the general consensus of the dialogue was that Nigeria should eliminate dependency and encourage the public sector, which has a comprehensive role in improving the economy. 

A situation where state governors would be converging in Abuja to share billions of naira monthly is purely a practice of self-deceit. Through the provision of high-quality public services, corruption can be curtailed. Through decentralization, privatization, and proper taxation, the county can generate enough to cater for itself and others. 

And that is the way to go if we want to kill the menace of unemployment, underemployment, and by extension, the insincerity that is leading the country to insecurity.

The last speaker was Bankole Ojo, who got the mic after a protest, and his answer to the problem is the lack of patriotism on the part of all. Bankole said if everyone in the hall would express equal devotion and vigour in support of our country, the problem would simply perish.

Yes, the take-home from the dialogue is that 2023 is not an election year, but a turning point.

By Bala Ibrahim who writes from Abuja.

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