By Inuwa Bwala
For always abandoning the comfort of his office in the State Capital, and showing uncommon courage by traversing the hinterland where insurgents, terrorists and assassins lay in wait, and for daring to walk in places infested with landmines, no one deserves to be so honored.
While others sit in their comfort zones crying wolves and shouting themselves hoarse, he showed courage and leadership in always being in the bush like a combatant, struggling to restore normalcy and rekindle the confidence of his citizens.
For not minding whether one is an indigene or not, a Muslim, Christian or Animist, or whether one believes in his political philosophy, but treating everybody with the same dignity, in calm and candour, depict him as a purposeful leader.
I wish I were physically there when his citation was being read and reasons being given for his choice as recipient of the award for courage and purposeful leadership in challenging times.
Borno state Governor, Babagana Umara Zulum came in at a time of great challenges, such that giving leadership, had become almost an illusion.
Those who witnessed the event confirmed that the reasons given for the award by the Church were in line with my postulations to the effect that, the daring moves he innitiated, to not only end the nightmare, but to restore normalcy earned him the honour..
I wish I were around, not because my presence could have made any difference, at the event, but it could have provided me with imputes for an upcoming lecture on leadership and challenges of religious intolerance in the North.
Like many others who might have read the report that, the Anglican Church has confered an award, and over 600 Christian clergy witnessed the award on a Muslim Governor , Babagana Umara Zulum of Borno State, I was excited, to say the least.
It is not common to assemble so many of such men of God at a single event, amongst whom were 20 Archbishops, 144 Bishops, and hundreds of Reverend Father’s.
Reports indicate that, these were the type of personalities who converged on Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital to witness the award confered on Zulum for courage and purposeful leadership.
That the Church is not known to enggage in frivolities is a truism, and to have showed appreciation for Zulum’s outstanding qualities, in a society where hatred amongst different faiths has become a mode of perception amongst adherents, speaks volumes about the Borno Governor.
It was not only unique, but historic and symbolic in our quest for a society where neither tribe nor religion are barriers to recognizing the good in people.
Nigeria’s head of the Anglican church, Most Reverend Dr. Henry Ndukuba, whose title is the Archbishop Metropolitan and Primate of Anglican Church while presenting the award to Borno helmsman, said, Professor Zulum has distinguished himself in less than three years of becoming Borno’s Governor and the award supersedes religion. stressing that Nigerians are tired of leaders that are not responsible and that is why the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion deemed it appropriate to honor Zulum and two others. In giving the award, the Church explained that, the intentions were “to bring to the fore the selfless service of leaders in such a trying time and Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State stands out”.
“Professor Babagana Zulum is a true leader, worthy of emulation and we are proud to have him among leaders in the country. He has been attacked severally while discharging his duties but he continued to show zeal and passion to bring hope to the state that’s suffered 12 year insurgency. We pray God to continue to guide, protect, bless and uplift Professor Babagana Zulum now and always” the citation further explained.
Head of Service, in Borno State, Barrister Simon Malgwi, who represented the Governor at the award ceremony seemed even happier, as his presence brought out the unknown fact about our relationships in Borno, to the effect that, for the first time, a Christian is the Head of the Civil Service.
The Governor’s feelings were captured in his response through the Head of service, thus, “I have received several awards but this one is very special because it came from clergy and it came from a church to one that is not a christian and your decision speaks volume of the objectivity and sincerity of purpose of the award. I very much cherish and value this award”.