The Borno Option(s) By Ibrahim Mustapha Modu

Until the constitution of Nigeria is amended to accommodate zoning, and despite the major parties being favourably disposed to zoning, anyone can vie for any political office in the country. It is in the light of this lacuna that despite the talks of zoning, politicians aspiring to public offices defy their parties’ zoning arrangements to contest elections. Just that such aspirants never achieve their ambitions.

For Borno State that has never had a shot of the nation’s number one seat, there are about 20 high profile personalities who can take over the leadership of this country in 2023, but we will mention just three from this pack. All these three are known personalities given their pedigree. ByThey are Amb. Babagana Kingibe, incumbent Governor Babagana Umara Zulum and Group Managing Director of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).




Babagana Kingibe is of Borno state is aged 75. He can best be described as a government man who has seen virtually everything in government. Not new to Nigeria’s political terrain, he has been in the corridors of power serving in different capacities both locally and overseas.

Top most of Kingibe’s political career include being Minister of foreign affairs from 1993 to 1995, Minister of Internal Affairs from 1995 to 1997, Minister of Power and Steel from 1997 to 1998; and Secretary to the Government of the Federation from 2007 to 2008. In 1993 Nigerian presidential election, he was the vice-presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

With this high-profile CV, baring all unforeseen circumstances the Presidency may fit Kingibe. Alas, the current political terrain which as pointed out earlier that is not new to him, observers believe is not going to be that easy for him.


The age factor is there for Kingibe to contend with. Of course, no youth in Nigeria can raise a finger to step forth and compare with the man that can best be described as both a technocrat and bureaucrat, that notwithstanding, they youths in Nigeria who constitute a determining factor may not be positively disposed to Kingibe who would, by 2023, attain the age of 77 years.






Young and ebullient and full of energy and never gets distracted at all, current Governor of Borno State who is 51 years old within the period of his administration shot himself into the hearts of many Nigerians and he is being taunted to take over from President Buhari in 2023.

Is Zulum the only governor or political leader currently holding a public office in Nigeria? Certainly no, but why the yearning for him to become the next president? The answer to this poser lies in the postulation by veteran journalist and former managing director of Kogi State Newspaper Corporation, Donatus Okpe. Okpe said of Zulum: “One of the amazing questions that seek answers among admirers of Governor Zulum is his ability to outperformed his peers even when the state is battling with insurgency. The answers are not in monologue encounter with the marines. Wherever there is leadership will and determination, there is a way laid out with gold and silver.






“The relentless Governor who has the propensity to constantly oversee projects, had survived two horrendous attacks from the dare-devil insurgents. Indeed, he is undeterred as he shares the pains of his war-weary citizens.” Zulum has declared last year that either he or Boko Haram would end next year.

Okpe said “as a journalist and a Nigerian looking for light in the abyss of our dark and unpleasant trajectory, Zulum has the character of a dependable torchbearer as he separated himself from our decadence and lives his life for the wellbeing of his hitherto decimated people. Those who follow me on social media would probably acknowledge that I am a Zulumite, with no string attached other than appreciation of his unusualness to be an exemplar among his peers.” This is exactly the yearnings of Nigerians at this time of the nation’s struggling life. Some one who has demonstrated selflessness and determination to right the wrongs that had stunted the nation’s growth and development.






Would he be allowed to ascend the leadership of Nigeria would be the multibillion-dollar question to be answered. The fear being expressed is that of Buhari who pre-2015 Nigerians earnestly yearned for him and they got him only for them to be expressing regret. But in fairness to Buhari, he cannot be blamed. Until now, no Nigerian president has witnessed the kind of opposition he has experienced due to his unwavering fight against corruption that has remained the canker worm literarily eating Nigeria dry.

Zulum is a self-made man who typifies the remarks of the late Malam Aminu Kano who once said ”Nigeria will know no peace until the son of a nobody can become somebody without knowing anybody”.

Prof Babagana Umara Zulum, was born 26 August 1969 in Mafa local Government area of Borno State. After his elementary and secondary education, he went to Ramat Polytechnic, Maiduguri, where he obtained a National Diploma in Irrigation Engineering in 1988.

In 1986, Zulum gained admission into Ramat Polytechnic in Maiduguri, owned by the state government, to study for a National Diploma in Irrigation Engineering, and lived with relatives off-campus in Kofa Biyu, a densely-populated area. in 1990, he secured admission into University of Maiduguri for a degree in Agricultural Engineering, and graduated in 1994.





According to Zulum, “ “An experience after gaining admission in Ibadan will always remain memorable, as my registration was delayed for three weeks because I could not pay my registration fees. I didn’t have the money when I departed Maiduguri, but I believed I could get some work to do in Lagos. For three weeks, I lived in Alaba Rago working with commercial vehicles and there I raised the money for my tuition. I went to Ibadan, paid my fees and started. I graduated in 1998”

From 2005 to 2009, he obtained PhD in Soil and Water Engineering from University of Maiduguri, rising through the ranks, at some point Deputy Dean and Acting Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural Engineering. Zulum decided to retain his teaching job in UNIMAID, even while he was appointed into the state government in 2011.

In 2015, Zulum was appointed pioneer Commissioner for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement by Shettima, who told a gathering in Maiduguri last week that one of his attractions to Zulum was the fact that despite being in control of billions of naira for reconstruction of thousands of homes, schools and hospitals.





Zulum may be the one late Malam Aminu Kano talked about.

The current Group Managing Director Mele Kolo Kyari may not have by any means through spoken words or boody language indicated that he wants to be president of Nigeria in 2023.

Not a relation of the late CoS Kyari, the NNPC GMD, 55, has a rich backround but only in the opil and gas sector. His closest to politics is his history in unionism and activism. He was popularly referred to as ‘Grand Chairman’ by colleagues, friends and admirers alike because he was once Group Chairman of NNPC PENGASSAN (Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria).

Mr Kyari from Borno State, succeeded the incumbent GMD, Maikanti Baru afer

President Muhammadu Buhari confirmed his appointment at the time he was the Group General Manager, Crude Oil Marketing Division (COMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC

Mr Kyari came to the job as the 19th GMD of the NNPC with a rich profile of professional and service credentials.







A geologist, Mr Kyari is known in the oil industry as a crude oil marketer with outfield pedigree in petroleum economics and crude oil and gas trading.

With over 32 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, his tour of duty traversed the entire value chain of the petroleum industry. He’s been with the NNPC in different capacities.


Under his watch, the Crude Oil Marketing Division of the NNPC has recorded noticeable transformation in the management and sales of the various Nigeria’s crude oil grades via an infusion of transparency and automation of the processes.

A 1987 Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) degree holder in Geology and Earth Science from the University of Maiduguri, between 1988 and 1991, Kyari worked with the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency before joining the NNPC subsidiary, Integrated Data Services Limited (IDSL), where he worked as a Seismic Data Processing Geophysicist in the Data Processing Department.

In 1998, Mr Kyari was appointed the Exploration Geophysicist Production Sharing Contract (PSC) of the National Petroleum Investments Management Services (NAPIMS) until 2004 when he became the Abuja Operations Manager of NAPIMS.

In 2006, he was appointed the Supervisor PSC, Crude Oil Marketing Department (COMD) of the NNPC, from where he rose to the position of Head, and later Manager of Production Contracts Management of the COMD between 2007 and 2014.





Mr Kyari was appointed General Manager Oil Stock Management, COMD where he worked till 2015 before being appointed Group General Manager, COMD and later Nigeria’s National Representative at OPEC.


Kyari was one of those who came up with the NNPC’s commodity trading initiative. The initiative was put together to usher in an era of transparency and accountability in NNPC operations. The resultant effect of this and other policies such as the proposed and managed the Direct Sales and Direct Purchase (DSDP) arrangement of petroleum products from 2016 to the present day not only put the nation’s oil and gas sector on a sound footing to absolve all the shocks there in, but stabilized the operations of the nation’s cash cow. The DSDP replaces the controversial crude swap arrangement that was allegedly abused by former Petroleum Resources Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke and her cronies during the Goodluck Jonathan era.






This initiative helps government to know who is buying Nigeria’s crude, at what prices, and how much has been made from the sale overall.

For the first time in more than three decades, the NNPC declared profit and the nation has gone for more than three years with experiencing the notorious fuel scarcity at the end of every year.

Kyari threaded where other past GMDs of the NNPC feared to touch. The PIB is one of such. With its passage into an Act of the National Assembly, the nation’s oil sector is expected to witness a robust growth with more local and foreign private investors having the opportunity to key in.





For Kyari seeking to be President, being able to manage successfully the nation’s oil and gas sector is a huge asset, by implication he can be trusted to drive the economy currently starving of investment. That alone is not enough. If not for his appointment as GMD of the NNPC, Kyari was not known or head of being a political player either in the background or on the surface. How he intends to withstand the whirl wind and the stormy political firmament of Nigeria leaves to be seen, if not he is a presidential material.

Modu is the Leaders of Concerned Citizens of Borno