SINCE he assumed power some eight months ago, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, the Governor of embattled Borno State, has continued to strike the posture of a leader on a messianic mission.
He has put the interests of the common man above partisan niceties and often found himself at odds with the Federal Government and the military over the handling of the war on terrorism in the North East.
It is unwise to openly sing the praises of Nigerian politicians because of their penchant to ride on the crest of their populist waves into a second term and then unfold their real hidden agenda. Many of the former governors facing prosecution for theft and money laundering were once populist politicians.
Prof. Zulum recently provoked national excitement after his encounter with a class teacher, Mrs. Obiageli Mazi. Zulum had paid a surprise visit to the Shehu Sanda Kyarimi Primary School, Maiduguri at around 6.30 am on Friday, February 7, 2020 and found the Abia State-born Mazi as the only staff who had reported for work.
Zulum, after engaging her in a conversation, ordered her promotion from Level 12 to the post of Assistant Headmistress and gifted her N100,000 cash. A group of Borno State indigenes who were inspired by the deed of their governor also raised another one million for the teacher who is a Christian of the Igbo ethnic group.
For the teacher to already be on ground in spite of the bitter harmattan cold showed great dedication to her duties.
Also, being a Christian in a Muslim-majority state seriously besieged by Islamist terrorists thousands of kilometres away from her native state, with such a long pedigree of living and working in Borno State (31 years) shows that her faith in the oneness of this country remains unshaken.
It takes a dedicated public servant with an enquiring mind like Professor Zulum to seek to know what manner of a Nigerian the teacher was, and to reward her the way he did.
This encounter holds great lessons for the rest of Nigerians at this juncture when the faith of the ordinary Nigerian has virtually been eroded to the foundations.
We are thus inspired to continue to serve this country with all our strength irrespective of the disappointments we face from the failure of leadership and breakdown of the collective patriotic spirit.
Zulum’s gesture shows that Nigeria only lacks good leaders because we have failed to assiduously search for them.
He represents a ray of hope for a better tomorrow when Nigeria might rediscover a model of leadership that is no longer blinded by partisan, ethnic, religious, regional and clannish bigotry.
We hope the vicissitudes of politics do not derail him.