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Zulum: A Beacon Of Hope To Borno’s Less Privileged People

By Gbenga Akingbule 

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

Gatekeepers News reports that Zulum is always quick to share stories  about his  humble beginning amongst the high and mighty,  a gesture observers view as a rare display of humility amongst Nigeria’s political elite

Upon assumption of office in 2019, Prof Zulum has consistently associated himself with the less privileged,-  his former constituency where he got first-hand experience of the difficult economic hardship bedevilling many Nigerian less privileged people.

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

Prof Zulum’s passion to liberate his people from the shackles of poverty and education backwardness has led to a 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 one million out-of-school children off the streets of Borno and returned them to the classrooms where their future are being positively shaped 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.

Prof Zulum Presenting a cheque of 4.8 billion as scholarship award to beneficiaries.

No doubt,  the more than a decade-long insurgency in Borno  State had led many children and their parents to flee troubled 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 the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID ) which formed part of 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 a tool for liberating the people of the state.

Zulum was quick to trip down memory lane and revealed how he battled through plenty of obstacles in his unquenchable quest to gain a 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.

“Coming from my background,  I know how I  suffered when we did not have competent teachers to teach us in our primary and secondary schools.  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,” Zulun said.

It was therefore not surprising when Governor Zulum recently released the sum of N4.8 Billion as a 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  foreign and local postgraduate students in Science, Technology,  Engineering and Mathematics ( STEM).

In his usual humanitarian and compassion towards the less privileged irrespective of ethnicity,  tribe or religion governor Zulum during an early morning visit to a school in Maiduguri,  the state capital gifted a woman from the southeast part of the country- a teacher in the school with the sum of N100, 000 cash for always showing up early to her duty post.

Also, recently,  during a visit to launch grains given to the state by the Federal Government, Prof Zulum, shortly after the occasion went towards the direction of the local guard guarding 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 and said the money would go a long way in ameliorating his financial challenges.

Furthermore, 63-year-old Cecelia Joseph, a widow and mother of six children was part of the one hundred thousand households that benefited from a massive food support scheme carried out by the Borno State Governor.

The aim of the food support according to Governor Zulum is to ameliorate the 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.

Since the demise of her husband,  Cecilia  who had continued to feed from hand to mouth  with her six children revealed that Governor Zulum is the first to have reached out to her with any form of assistance- the food support, she said ” will assist me and my six children immensely.”

Prof Zulum had ordered that 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 far away  Osun State, a devoted Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) member as well as other beneficiaries who are not indigens 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 of my children,”  Cecelia who currently lives in a rented accommodation on the outskirts of Maiduguri, the state capital said.

Governor Zulum revealed during one of the many food distributions in the state that  “We have never distinguished 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 the N2 Billion intervention by President Bola Tinubu led the Federal government to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal Prof.  Zulum 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 who recently benefited from the food support scheme established by the governor.

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