Following the recent attack on the convoy of the Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, political and business leaders from the state, across Nigeria and outside have all expressed anger over the development. Their anger stems from the fact that Zulum’s hard work, integrity, transparency, diligence, courage, commitment to duty and patriotism are unparalleled.
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former House of Assembly aspirant in the state, Ibrahim Hala Hassan, has called on the Federal Government and the United Nations to provide adequate security for the governor to prevent recurrence of such attacks.
In this interview, he spoke on the attack and Boko Haram activities among other issues.
How can you describe the recent attack on Gov Zulum’s convoy?
I was badly disturbed when, on July 29, his convoy was attacked by Boko Haram insurgents along Maiduguri-Damaturu highway. Five persons, including three policemen, were reportedly killed during the incident.
The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria stipulates that no person shall be subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment. The attack on Zulum’s convoy is a breach of this aspect of the constitution. That is why I am calling on the Federal Government and even the United Nations to enhance security apparatus around the Governor to ensure that such thing does not happen again.
I also call for an investigation to ascertain the immediate and remote causes of the attack, and where sabotage is established, the people behind such dastardly act should be punished according to the law.
What do you admire most in Governor Zulum?
Several people, who have watched his career path and leadership style, see him as God-sent to the people of Borno State. He is a very diligent person, who rewards diligence and commitment to duty. We have seen him physically inspect construction sites and assess materials for works in the state, just to ensure that the state gets the best in everything. These things can only be done by someone with interest of the people at heart. And, when someone goes the extra mile, he recognizes such efforts and rewards such persons accordingly. So, Zulum has not only presented Borno as a state with high standards for efficiency and productivity, he has also presented it as a state that so much desires peace and progress of its people, businesses and economy.
From reintegrating ex-combatants to preventing farmer-herder conflicts and rebuilding rural economies, Zulum has proven his mettle as a leader with courage and great wisdom. And I will tell you that he has overtime demonstrated efficiency and result-oriented qualities. Since his first appointment as Assistant Technical Officer in Borno State Civil Service under the state’s Ministry of Agriculture in 1989, his competence and commitment to duty has never been in doubt.
In 1990, he moved to the state’s Unified Local Government Service as Senior Field Overseer, and later, Principal Water Engineer. He later became an assistant lecturer at the University of Maiduguri.
How would you assess his administration in terms of infrastructure, especially education and rural development?
The governor has executed several projects since he came into office, particularly the model schools that he built, and some other projects inaugurated to mark his first anniversary.
Zulum has brought massive transformation in the state through hard work, integrity, transparency, diligence, courage, commitment to duty and patriotism. Borno State, which was obviously brought to its knees by insecurity, rebounded within the first year of Zulum’s tenure in all spheres of socio-economic and infrastructure development. For instance, the governor has not only instilled discipline in the hearts of civil servants through unscheduled visits, but he has also positively impacted on many lives by the numerous capital projects his administration has undertaken.
Within one year in office, he has undertaken 326 capital projects, initiated 49 policies and programmes which are capital intensive. The administration is constructing 6,544 sub-urban and low cost houses for the resettlement of internally displaced persons and refugees across the state.
Surveillance vehicles have been distributed to security agencies. He has also carried out rehabilitation of schools and established new ones. He has constructed primary health care facilities, rehabilitated and constructed roads, including the first fly-over in Maiduguri, the state capital.
We have also seen other projects such as water supplies, including drilling of 213 boreholes, 18 electrification and agricultural projects, including the restoration of irrigation farming for communities in Marte.
What do you think are the
impacts of the Boko Haram insurgency on the state’s economy?
The current insecurity in the state has repeatedly delayed the return of displaced communities and triggered new population movements in the region. And when community members are not within their business areas or farmlands, their economic base is weakened. So far, over two million individuals remain displaced; a number that has once again increased over the past year. The ongoing military operations around Lake Chad continue to force more people to leave their homes, even as others are driven into secondary displacement, particularly due to the Nigerian military’s ongoing practice of clearing rural villages by pushing civilians into IDP camps in nearby towns. These are not only humanitarian crisis, but economic crisis too.
International organizations estimate that about 800,000 people are still stuck in areas in Northern Borno, which is beyond the reach of humanitarian assistance, with little information available about their profile and needs.
What other alternative can the state deploy to provide adequate security, especially after the governor suggested deploying hunters and vigilance groups to augment efforts of the security forces to maintain peace and stability in the state?
Zulum has attributed the recent attack on his convoy to military sabotage. In a viral video with the Commander in the area, he accused the Army of complicity, alleging attempt to sabotage his visit with the attack. As the Chief Security Officer of the state, he has enough information to arrive at that conclusion. The Governor was convinced the exchange of fires was between the Nigeria Army and the Police Special Anti- Robbery Squad (FSARS) leading his convoy into Baga town. He said in that viral, video that as far as he is concerned, what happened in Baga was a complete sabotage by the military. He insisted that there is no Boko Haram in Baga.
The economic cost of the Boko Haram attack on Borno communities has run into billions of Naira. What steps should be taken to put the state on the path of recovery and reconciliation?