Sun. Jul 21st, 2024
By Gbenga Akingbule 

Born without a silver spoon and struggled through hardwork, perseverance  and unwavering desire to succeed,  Borno State Governor,  Prof Babagana Zulum has since become a household name especially amongst the less privileged people in the state .

Prof. Zulum is always quick  to share stories  about his humble beginning amongst the high and mighty,  a gesture observers view as rare display of humility amongst Nigeria’s political elites 

Since his assumption of office in 2019, Prof Zulum has never failed to consistently associated with the less privileged, his former constituency where he was schooled in the difficult economic hardship bedeveling many Nigerian less privileged people.  

Driven by compassion and his  genuine concern to assist the common people, Prof Zulum had on different occasion while on  visit to the hinterland of the state, ordered for the immediate halting of his motorcade just to  assist locals walking long distance by giving them a ride on his convoy and also give them cash support.  

Zulum passion to liberate his people from the shackles of poverty and education backwardness has led to rise in budgetary provisions and fund releases for the education sector and key ministries that are aimed at empowering the common people.  

For the 2024 budget,  the Ministry of Education was  allocated  the sum of N39 billion to carry out its activities- this effort , amongst others , has removed over a million out-of -school children off the streets of Borno and returned them to the classrooms where their future are being positively molded to become responsible and productive members of the society.  

“Out of 1.8 million out-of-school children in 2021, we have taken measures to reduce the number to less than 800. We’re still working assiduously to bring down the number,”  Commissioner of Education,  Science , Technology  and Innovation,  Engineer  Lawan Abba Wakilbe said 

No doubt, the more than a decade long  insurgency in Borno State had led many children and their parents to flee trouble areas,  thereby obstructing their education where massive destruction to education facilities across the state was evident .

At  a recent function during a public  lecture  held at University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID ) which form part activities to mark the exit of the former Vice Chancellor of the Institution, Prof. Aliyu Shugaba  after completing his 5 year tenure,  Prof Zulum didn’t mince words when he charged the sea of erudite scholars  present at  the occasion, majority of whom are indigenes of Borno State to think outside the box and collaborate to use education as tool for liberating the people of the state .

Zulum who was full of emotion, apparently on a quick trip down his memory lane, revealed how he battled through plethoras of obstacles in his unquenchable quest to gain quality education that has since transformed his life to become a professor of  soil and water engineering and currently serving his second term as governor of Borno state. 

He said: “Coming from my background,  I know how I  suffered , where we do not have competent teachers to teach us in our primary and secondary school.  I never thought I would be a professor, because both of my parents were not educated,  nobody ever told me to do my assignment while in primary school, I was on my own.”

It was therefore not surprising when Governor Zulum recently released the sum of N4.8 billion as scholarship award to 524  postgraduate students  from the state , including orphans and less privileged persons.  

The  scholarship  award according to the governor is meant for foriegn and local postgraduate students in Science, Technology,  Engineering and Mathematics ( STEM) 

In his usual touch of humanity and compassion towards the the less privileged irrespective of ethnicity, tribe or religion governor Zulum during an early morning visit to a school in Maiduguri,  the state capital had gifted a woman form the South East part of the country- a teacher in the  school with the sum of N100,000 cash for always  showing up eally to her duty post. This announced the governor as a rewarder of not only the less privileged without demarcation of ethnic and religious lines but a staunch believer in hard work and dedicated service.

Also , recently,  during a visit to launch grains given to the state by Federal Government , Prof Zulum, shortly after the occasion went towards the direction of the local guard on duty at the premises and immediately ordered that the sum of N500,000 be given to him – an amount that is more than his 12 month salary.

The 80 year Chadian local guard who had lived in Nigeria for over four decades and has over 20 Children was stunned by the governor’s gesture, he could not hide his feeling but continued to shout the praises of God and that of the governor, stating that the gift would go a long way in ameliorating his financial challenges.  

Furthermore, 63 year old Cecelia Joseph, a widow and mother of six children who  was part of the one hundred thousand households that benefited from massive food support scheme carried out by the Borno State Governor, had praises for Zulum who had established the food  support to ameliorate economic hardship being experienced by many vulnerable families across the state, including the likes of Cecilia whose husband, a commercial taxi driver was gruesomely murdered by suspected Boko Haram terrorists over ten years ago. 

Cecilia since the demise of her husband,  had continue to feed from hand to mouth  with her six children. Though the blood of her husband was shed in Borno but the allure of the state added to the fact that she had no one ready to lessen her burden from elsewhere had kept her in Borno State. She said that Governor Zulum is the first to have reached out to her with any form of assistance- through the food support, noting that “this will assist me and my six children immensely.”

Prof Zulum had ordered that the food support should  be given to all vulnerable residents irrespective of  tribe , religion and political affiliations hence paving the way for Cecilia who hails from faraway  Osun State, a devoted Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) member as well as other beneficiaries who are not indigenes of the state .

” I’m so grateful to Governor Zulum for wiping away my tears with this food support. But I would appreciate more support from the governor and other well meaning citizens  for the education on my children.  ”  Cecelia who currently lives in a rented accommodation on the outskirts of Maiduguri , the state capital said .

Governor Zulum had revealed during one of the many food distribution in  the state that:  “We have never distinguish between Christians and Muslims in our food distribution.  What we’re doing is not partisan either, it’s not based on ethnicity or religion ; we advised the community to select one hundred thousand most valuable and bottom poor and this will go a long way in ameliorating the suffering of the masses ” 

While warehouses were being looted across the country during  the # EndSARS protests,  residents of Borno state were full of gratitude to Governor Zulum for always coming to their aid with his unprecedented distribution of food , cash and clothing to assist the less privileged.  

Following the release of N2 billion intervention by the President Bola Tinubu  led Federal government to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal Prof. Zulum had announced raising the number of households being targeted for palliatives from 300,000 to 400,000 households. 

Each household according to the Governor,  will be made up of six family members and  multiplied by 400,000 which, by implication, moves Zulum’s new target to two million and four hundred thousand  individuals. 

“Governor Zulum has continued to stand in the gap for many of the less privileged people in Borno state ”  Umar Ali, one of those that recently benefited from the food support scheme established by the governor.

Definitely Zulum, has become a beacon of hope for the less privileged people of Borno State.

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