By Isa Gusau
Oftentimes, new governors use their first month in office for familiarization. But for Governor Babagana Umara Zulum of Borno State, carried on in his first month in office as if he won reelection.
Twenty four hours after swearing-in, the Borno-born academic, Professor Zulum met heads of the military, then convened a security meeting attended by traditional rulers. He also met permanent secretaries of all ministries and establishments, to assert control. Same May 30th, he met labour leaders and ordered speedy completion of workers’ biometric exercise, a critical step that enabled government to sustain payment of salaries and pensions.
Second day in office, Zulum showed up, 8am, at the state secretariat in Maiduguri. The Governor was there to serve a clear notice that he would not condone lateness and absenteeism by thousands of workers. On his third and fourth days in office, Zulum began tour of Borno’s 27 local government areas, for priority needs assessment. He started with Gwoza and passed the night in Bama. He was also in Konduga. In the three LGAs, the Professor identified areas needing intervention. He directed immediate reconstruction of a bridge in border communities of Gwoza, to link Borno and Adamawa states. He was also quick to direct reconstruction of a college of education in Bama. His fifth day in office was in Maiduguri. Zulum showed up at a venue, to monitor the progress of biometrics for pensioners. It was a follow-up to the directive issued on his first day directive.
Zulum’s sixth day in office was Sallah Day. He marked it with Internally Displaced Persons and made donation of food items. On his seventh day, the Governor met members of the Civilian JTF and hunters fighting Boko Haram. He increased their monthly allowances. On his eight day, he flew to Abuja, ahead of his first presidential security meeting. The meeting at the Aso Rock Villa, held on the Governor’s ninth day in office. On his 10th day, Zulum was at the Borno State University in Maiduguri. He directed commencement of academic programmes and announced scholarship to 6,000 citizens. Later, he paid unscheduled visit to Maiduguri Water Treatment Plant. Dissatisfied with what he saw, Zulum ordered staff restructuring.
The Governor, on his11th day, resumed tour of LGAs. Prof. Zulum was in Mafa and Dikwa where he identified needs and presented patrol vehicles to the Civilian JTF and hunters fighting Boko Haram. He proceeded to Kala-Balge LGA for more needs assessment and ordered trenches to secure borders. He passed the night in Kala-Balge. On his 12th day, the Governor traveled to Ngala to identify needs. On his 13th day, he was at the National Assembly in Abuja to witness swearing-in of Borno’s representatives in the 9th Senate, to enhance ties with the legislature. Prof. Zulum’s 14th day in office coincided with June 12, Nigeria’s new Democracy Day. He led citizens to Ramat Square for parades; addressed citizens and revealed plans for the coming months and years. On his 15th day, Prof. Zulum met Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) handling humanitarian activities in Borno State. He discussed ways of strengthening their integrity and enforcement of his administration’s lead in determining needs and implementation. Later, the Governor inaugurated a committee on sale of houses in government estates through owner-occupier basis.
On his 16th day in office, Professor Zulum met the European Union, whose officials were in Borno. The meeting focused on increasing collaboration for Borno’s rebuilding and livelihood. On the 17th day, Prof. Zulum visited and ordered the construction of a mega school for 1,200 pupils in Sulumri, a poor community in Maiduguri. Later, he inspected the Alamderi water project and ordered its commissioning. He also inspected water facilities in Maiduguri and Jere to identify needs. On his 18th day in office, Prof. Zulum met with a group of Borno elders led by Ambassador Babagana Kingibe to discuss Borno’s peace building. On the 19th day, the Governor was at the state specialist hospital, Maiduguri, to console victims of Konduga suicide attacks. He directed expansion of the hospital’s accident and emergency unit. Later, Professor Zulum received in Maiduguri, Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND). Conducting them round the state university, the Governor requested some intervention. On his 20th day, Prof. Zulum was at country office of the World Bank in Abuja, to follow-up on requests for intervention in Borno.
On the Governor’s 21st day in office, he was guest to the President, Muhammadu Buhari, at the Villa. Professor Zulum had his first one-on-one meeting with the Commander-in-Chief, dwelling on Borno’s security. On his 22nd day, the Governor attended inaugural meeting of the National Economic Council at the Villa. On his 23rd, he received the Executive Secretary of the National Hajj Commission towards addressing a problem with Borno’s hajj exercise. Prof. Zulum, on his 24th day, resumed tour of LGAs. He traveled to Hawul where he visited five populated towns. In each, he directed major works in public schools, hospitals and markets amongst others. On his 25th day in office, the Governor was in Biu and Buratai towns. He directed upgrading of Biu General Hospital to a specialist hospital; laid foundation for a new council secretariat, inspected schools and directed rehabilitation of a vocational training centre.
The chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai was in Maiduguri on Prof. Zulum’s 26th day in office. Both leaders met over security challenges, efforts and collaboration. Prof. Zulum’s 27th and 28th days were focused on education. He launched the federal government’s Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA) targeting out of school children. Professor Zulum’s 28th day was more action-packed. The Governor flagged off construction of two mega schools, each for 1,200 pupils in Ajalari Cross and Abuja-Sheraton in Maiduguri and Jere respectively. He inspected drilling of six deep boreholes in Fori, Ajalari Cross and Sulumri, inspected the overhaul of Borno State House of Assembly in Maiduguri. On his 29th day, Prof. Zulum alongside the Chief of Army Staff, undertook an operational tour of Damboa LGA, met troops and citizens. The European Union launched in Maiduguri, interventions on teachers during the Governor’s 30th day in office.
If Zulum’s 30 days of developmental activities were equated with the performance of a resourceful striker in a football team, it would mean the tireless, frank and smart Professor, has scored 30 goals in his first 30 matches!
Gusau is Special Adviser on Public Relations and Strategy to Governor Zulum