Former Borno State Commissioner for Home Affairs, Information and Culture, Inuwa Bwala speaks onthe politics of transition and the expectations of the people of Borno State ahead of the transition of power from Governor Kashim Shettima to Professor Babagana Zulum.
In some places power will change hands, in some others there will be continuity on May 29. What is your take on the situation in Borno State?
There may be apprehension in some states, even where the incumbent may not be handing over power to another person. Tension is more intense in states where the incoming is from a party other than that of the outgoing. In Borno, it is a different ball game. Those who are conversant with the politics of Borno can attest to the fact that it is going to be a seamless transition from Governor Kashim Shettima to Professor Babagana Umara Zulum. As you perhaps know, the outgoing governor has not only laid a good foundation for the governor- elect to hit the ground running, the incoming governor has been the virtual mover of the government’s rebuilding and resettlement agenda before he was picked as Governor Shettima’s successor. Beyond this, the duo of Shettima and Zulum are development enthusiasts and have a common passion for the progress of Borno State, to the effect that what will take place on May 29th is for Professor Zulum to build on Governor Kashim Shettima’s lofty legacies.
What makes you think they have common development focus and if I may ask, what are those legacies of Governor Shettima you think Zulum can build upon?
In the first place both Governor Shettima and Professor Zulum are sound intellectuals, from humble backgrounds and with passions to prove book makers wrong that they are green horns who lack capacity to make the difference in an area dominated by so called professional politicians. I know as a matter of fact that they are both worried by the circumstances that brought the state to the position it is today, and want to make history as the ones who came to the rescue at a time most stakeholders have abandoned Borno to her fate. The governor- elect, Professor Babagana Zulum has enunciated his plans for the development of Borno State to include restoration of peace, re building the confidence of citizens in each other, education, health, agriculture, infrastructure development, industrialisation amongst others. Governor Kashim Shettima may be guilty of concealing his achievements in these areas over the years until recently when President Muhammadu Buhari visited, the governor, after taking Mr. President round some of his projects has showed to the world that he has been silently working. Reading Professor Zulum’s lips and looking critically at Kashim Shettima’s legacies will make you agree with me that they are tending towards the same direction. One does not need a soothsayer to tell that Zulum will always want to build on those legacies Shettima showed the president. It is only logical that, in striving to deliver Borno to the next level, Zulum will build his programmes upon the sound background, part of which he has been. You may recall the president’s last remarks to Governor Shettima, shortly before he departed Maiduguri after that visit. It virtually shut the mouth of Shettima’s critics even as he made a pleasant surprise to the president, with the parade of projects in all sectors. If you have been following events around the state, especially as it relates to Governor Shettima’s scorecard viz-a-viz Professor Zulum’s plans to take over, you may tend to notice that they operate on the same page.
Having a dream of walking perfectly in Shettima’s shoes may be one thing; putting together a team that will translate the dream is another. Zulum’s may be a pipe dream without the team that shares the same passions. Do you think Zulum can put together the type of team Shettima worked with?
Sometimes it is good for others to underestimate your capabilities, so that they may not correctly predict you. Professor Zulum’s credentials should ordinarily speak for him, but like I said it is good to allow people underrate him. Borno may be regarded as disadvantaged, but certainly does not lack the brains that can make things happen. We have robust intellectuals and development strategists who the governor may have already identified, and I know many of them are willing to come on board. Achieving the kind of feat Kashim Shettima did was done against similar backgrounds, to the effect that he may not deliver, but working with a collective endeavour which Professor Zulum has been part of, made things to happen. Zulum has demonstrated his capabilities as a team leader in other places he worked before. He has his blue print, which he will unfold as soon as he takes over. Things will fall into their proper perspectives and you will agree with me then that like his predecessor he has the capacity, the will and the team to work. At the inception of Kashim Shettima’s administration, people expressed similar reservations on the governor’s capability to pull the human and material resources together and achieve success. Today he has proved them wrong as it is on record that Kashim Shettima worked with the best hands in all fields of endeavour, and achieved a rare feat even in the midst of the crisis we are experiencing and the attendant human and material casualties.
What do you think Zulum needs to do differently from what Kashim Shettima did in order to carve a niche for himself?
As a student of political history, I put it to you, that, very often, it is that ego drive by leaders to want to differ even when things are going fine that create tension and cause divisions. Like I said, Professor Zulum has been part of the success story and he cannot hope to achieve anything by trying to do things differently at this stage, just for the sake of wanting to be different. In governance, certain policies or decisions are necessitated by exigencies of the moment and you cannot start planning of how to do things differently even before events that will shape or reshape your decisions occur. Consultation is the secret key in governance and I know the governor will employ that tool when he comes in. He may adopt a different approach in addressing certain issues after making due consultations and may even take other decisions depending on the exigencies of the moment. Like I said earlier, our generation is agreed that we will do everything possible to make government succeed, given our situation in the state. We will support government, we will criticise if such will make things work, more importantly, we owe it a duty to make the world see the brighter side of Borno, away from the hues and cries of insurgency.
What would you say are the expectations of the people of Borno from the incoming administration?
Times like these are period of great and high expectations, especially from leaders who are coming in freshly. And I tell you that the greatest and perhaps highest expectations of the people of Borno State is without mincing words an end to the insecurity, occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgency. Having been in this situation since 2009, our people have despaired long enough, they have seen all forms of atrocities. Virtually every family in Borno State has been affected in one way or the other across the state. We lost loved ones, we have lost property, we have lost our means of livelihood and more painfully we seem to have lost the cohesion and the peace and unity we were hitherto known for in Borno. We expect the new helmsman to intensify efforts and put an end to the mayhem. Secondly we expect our people who may have been displaced to be fully resettled and the rebuilding of destroyed structures to be completed. We look forward to a time when our roads will be safer than they are now, our homes secured than they are today, and our environment free for businesses to thrive, farms secured for full farming activities and more importantly for Borno to rise and take its rightful place in Nigeria. The necessary foundations may have been laid with the several initiatives in agriculture, industry, education, health and commerce, the new administration shall do well in mobilising the citizenry to take full advantage of the budding peace and utilise same for the resumption of normal activities across Borno State.