By Ambassador Usman Sarki
I am forced to return to the issue of qualitative leadership and good governance in Borno State of Nigeria again in the wake of President Muhammadu Buhari’s impending visit to the state. Without being sycophantic at all, I make bold to say that the visit to Maiduguri by the president is not merely to commission projects and see things for himself because it transcends such expectations. Rather, it speaks to endorsement of the realization of what was hitherto thought to be impossible in terms of leadership that we can trust. That is, leadership that can establish the boundaries within whose compass the impossible can be realised and the overwhelming challenges in nation building can veritably be overcome. The execution of projects and their commissioning are mundane episodes in the overarching panorama of governance which essentially boils down to trust and the extension of legacies. I believe President Buhari is conscious of the fact that in Borno State and in the person of Governor Zulum, his own legacies are being preserved and protected which, ultimately, is what matters in politics.
Our confidence is that, whether anointed or not as the flag bearer of the Buhari legacy, Governor Zulum is well placed to discharge this responsibility by the very facts of his virtues and unassuming humility. Borno welcomes Buhari as usual and as it would do always, with open arms, warm heart, bright countenance and unbounded enthusiasm that our people reserve only for a select few in this life.
The point is that there is nothing more successful than success itself in politics. This assertion may seem needlessly tautological, a little bit presumptuous or even awkward in relation to the political situation in Nigeria. However, it is a logical construct when applied to the condition in Borno State over the last two years. The “Zulum phenomenon” as it has come to be known, has now become a captivating prospect in the dynamics of governance and establishment of conditions for the progressive transformation of Nigeria. Well, not the whole country as such, but a part of it that has become a hotspot for conflict and terrorist insurgency for over a decade. Borno in the last two years or so, has become a captivating ground for experimenting with a new type of leadership and the deployment of power towards achieving the ends of a peaceful and prosperous society as envisaged by the United Nations.
This fortune coincidence or conjunction of factors namely power, leadership and governance have meant that three critical ingredients that have been lacking so far in the administration of the state and government, have finally been attained in that corner of Nigeria under the leadership of Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, mni. This auspicious development has now made it possible for Borno to experience a resurgence of hope and confidence in the future that was not possible to even contemplate before 2019. Today, it is possible to showcase this State as a place where government can be trusted to deliver on promises and appeal to the people’s sense of ownership of their destiny in a demonstrable manner rather than patronizingly as it is the case in some places in Nigeria. Here, there is no remonstrance or regrets about politics or any residual doubts that wrong choices have been made by the people. In Borno today it is possible to say that government is truly serving the people and power is no longer the sole object of desire for its own sake or for personal aggrandizement.
This is not just an anecdotal or even an episodic understanding but a practical demonstration of good fortune that Borno seems to be favoured with since 2019 in having a decent person in charge of affairs in that enclave of Nigeria. Decency should be the catch word in our politics in Nigeria. Without it, the appreciation of limits beyond which we should not go or below which we should not descend, shall become blurred and coalesced in a confusing medley of opportunistic behaviours, indifference and even lethargy towards governance and the expectations of improvement of our lives. What is happening in Borno State today is therefore, nothing short of a historic realignment of factors and making of conscious course corrections towards taking our state to higher levels of human civilisation. Our endeavours are truly transcendental and even civilisational in outlook and aspirations. That is why the state embraced the “Zulum phenomenon” wholeheartedly without any reservations or second thoughts. In Zulum Borno has found a resonating voice of its destiny and long cherished aspirations to return to her former glory of leading nations and peoples towards higher possibilities of achievement of their destinies.