Restructuring Nigeria is a task that must be done, it does not matter what some reactionaries say. One major step is to recognize leaders who are capable of doing things right just like Babagana Umara Zulum.
Those who want Nigeria to remain as one cannot be talking of a president from the North after 2023. It is senseless. Anyone who thinks because Dr. Goodluck Jonathan completed President Umar Yaradua’s tenure in 2015, the South must wait must be fraudulent.
The South can also argue that because General Yakubu Gowon ruled for nine years and General Ibrahim Babangida held sway for eight years, northerners should remain out of power till 2050.
Enough is enough. This politics of incompetence must stop. Nigerians must begin to identify real leaders irrespective of tribe or tongue. I have eyes for quality and I have seen it in Borno State governor, Prof. Zulum.
My calculation is that by 2023, Zulum should become the Vice President while the South produces the President. After eight years I want to see President Babagana Zulum.
My investigations show that Zulum is as simple as Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, and it appears the power will not change his taste. This man has no known houses across the globe. I doubt if he is interested in buying up Abuja, Dubai and Dammam.
As Prime Minister between 1957 and 1966, Balewa could have owned estates like some of his colleagues. He had the connection to set up a bank. The Prime Minister died without acquiring wealth.
I understand Zulum was so poor that he became ‘Johnie Walker,’ trekking more than Olympic Walk champions. He was a taxi driver, trucker and even slept with cart pushers at Alaba Rago, Lagos.
Zulum is a Muslim but was poorer than a church rat. And quite unlike others, he had all the opportunity in the world to make money as a Rector and as Commissioner in Borno State. He handled billions. Zulum does not worship money.
What has brought global attention to him is one obscure Abia woman, Obiageri Mazi, a teacher who has refused to leave the state. She has been teaching in the last 31 years. Many combatants may not love to serve in that part of the country.
I have said it severally, Boko Haram is politics. Many of our politicians wine and dine with terror. Some Nigerians are using insurgency to milk the country dry. It will be little surprise to see more groups, as many as our political parties.
Boko Haram fighters may be slitting throats and cutting heads, I have never seen them bomb spectators at a soccer match. That is humanity in them. They know that soccer gives the country joy.
Kelechi Emeteole was a lieutenant in the Biafra Army. He was in Maiduguri as coach of El Kanemi Warriors. I expected Boko Haram to target him in their strikes. It never happened. They knew he gave them joy training footballers.
Boko Haram soldiers are children who never knew love, boys who were failed by governments in the North. Leaders who benefitted from Balewa and Alhaji Ahmadu Bello refused to toe the path of honour.
Mrs Mazi is Igbo and a Christian. She loves her job and for that, her salary was 35,000 naira monthly. It took Zulum’s visit to Shehu Sanda Kyarimi Two Primary School in Jere to reward her.
I am sure some Boko Haram boys could have passed through her. She is closer to the downtrodden than some of the politicians who presided over Jere Local Government Area.
And I want to tell Northern leaders that this is the time to give the Kanuri a chance. From 2023, Zulum is good enough for the position of Vice President. From there I would love to see him lead Nigeria from 2031.
Born in 1969, Zulum will be 54 years in 2023. At 62 in 2031, he should be grizzled enough to render credible service. The way the Prof. is going, education will liberate the North under him which is what that region needs.
It should bother every rightful Kanuri man that power has eluded the group for so long while a few favoured groups continue to jostle for eternal supremacy. Other Northerners are not more educated.
The first governor of the northern region, Sir Kashim Shetima Ibrahim, was a Kanuri man. There must have been something special about him that was why Maj. Tim Onwuategwu ensured that no harm came to the big man during the January 15, 1966 coup.
Credit must go to the immediate past governor of Borno, Kashim Ibrahim Shetima, son of the senior Kashim. He fished out Zulum.
In the military, the Kanuri were ahead. The first Nigerian to be trained at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, United Kingdom, Zakariya Maimalari, was commissioned a second lieutenant on February 16, 1953.
Col. Kuru Mohammed and Lt.Col. Abogo Largema was commissioned in February 1954. They were Kanuri. Air Vice-Marshal Al-Amin Dagash became the first Air Force officer to be named Chief of Defence Staff.
When the opportunity arose for a Kanuri to rule Nigeria in 1976, he was sidelined. Maj. Gen. Mohammed Shuwa was a more successful GOC during the Civil War than Murtala Mohammed.
When Gen. Mohammed was killed in 1976, the junta wanted to make the North happy. Murtala and Shuwa were course mates at Sandhurst as members of Intake 27.
Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo was moved up as Head-of-State. Lt. Col. Shehu Ya’radua was made number two and promoted to Brigadier. I bet you, if Shuwa was from the North–West geo-political zone, he would have become Head-of State ahead of OBJ. Seniority died in the Army after Gen.Ironsi’s assassination.
In 1966, Zanna Bukar Dipcharima, a Kanuri man, would have been made prime minister after the first coup, in the absence of Balewa. Inua Wada was overseas. Ministers like Shehu Shagari and Richard Akinjide were discussing that when Gen Aguiyi Ironsi asked them to hands-off the power.
That was in the past. Now Zulum has shown what the North can offer. The Kanuri should put their house in order. This Abba Kyari/ Babagana Monguno cold war is disturbing.