BY ABUTU AGADA
Isa Umar Gusau, Special Adviser on Media and Communications to Governor Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State in this interview unfolds how the state government is building peace in the state amidst the insecurity in the Northeast region of the country. Excerpts:
How is Governor Shettima responding to the persistent security situation in Borno State?
I would crave your indulgence not to speak much on this matter so that I do not contradict an appeal made by my boss last month.
You may want to recall that in a Sallah message after the Ramadan, Governor Kashim Shettima had pleaded with the media not to publish efforts being made concerning the need for a peaceful resolution of the crises through dialogue.
The governor has been consistent on the call for dialogue since 2011 when he was elected, even before his inauguration. He pioneered that call, really.
What I can tell you is that Governor Shettima regards the restoration of peace and security in Borno State as his number one priority and he is working to achieve that.
How has the governor deployed his experience as an accomplished banker to help the state?
Residents and indeed those who have visited Borno in the last one year, especially those closely monitoring trend of governance appreciate changes going on not only on infrastructure but importantly on the welfare of people.
From my own review, Governor Shettima adopts seven wise principles which summarize his style of governance that are already producing results. First, Kashim Shettima is a patient-listening and highly consultative governor, who respects professionalism and sense of responsibility; he is not ‘Mr know everything.’
He loves to listen to ideas and opinions of those responsible for particular subjects, he also acknowledges and strongly commends people with good ideas while he sometimes takes immediate action where he is satisfied with the ideas or he makes very wide consultation after passionately thanking whoever initiates such ideas..
How is the governor working to alleviate the problem of poverty in the state?
In the area of poverty alleviation, Governor Shettima has initiated a skills acquisition programme with different centres where youths are trained on how to make bricks, roofing tiles and interlocks with raw materials sourced from suppliers in the state while the youths get paid.
The Governor has been able to redirect everyone’s psychology back to agriculture, he breaths agriculture, talks agriculture, walks agriculture, sleeps agriculture and in fact, he lives agriculture. So, villagers now know that the only thing that attracts the governor is farming, so everyone wants to display farm produce anytime the governor is passing through local government areas.
The governor has also set up an agricultural transformation team with experts, fully in charge, and there is functional interplay between the state government and the Chad Basin Development Authority. Governor Shettima closely monitors all key projects.
Daily reports on projects
He has the habit of waking up and visiting project sites within Maiduguri and any of the 27 local government areas and this makes both contractors and ministry officials on their tosses. Not only does he visit, the governor assigns his special assistants and in some cases relocates them to project sites to give him daily reports of projects and training programmes in particular.
This is independent of briefs he expects from commissioners. In addition, he makes regular enquiries from members of host communities where projects are being sited to get their impressions on ongoing works. I think, the fact that the governor maintained his GSM lines from his days as a banker to date makes majority of the populace to have his numbers and contact him easily.
His sixth principle is that Governor Shettima has a flexible and unity-based approach to governance which makes him effectively manage diverse socio-political interests to forestall too many distractions that can derail government. He does not appear to regard anyone as enemy including opposition politicians because where ever he cites any Borno man in public places regardless of that person’s disposition, he personally walks towards him or her to engage in discussions.
His seventh principle is that of sincerity of purpose, everybody in Borno is convinced that Governor Shettima wants to rebuild Borno State, every commissioner and adviser, permanent secretary, director or any one at all, knows that the governor has a clear goal and this makes it easy for all to commit themselves to a shared goal because sometimes there is disconnection when followers do not trust the leaders what happens the is that everyone fools everyone, everyone pretends, it is pure cosmetics.
But under Governor Kashim Shettima whether an appointee works are required or not, he or she knows for sure that the governor is sincere about every decision he makes, this is very important for team work and success.