Hope for a better Nigeria is not lost, especially with the ascendancy of visionary Nigerians who share in the vision of making the Nigeria we all want and deserve, and who in their capacity, are striving, tirelessly, in transforming our lofty dreams into reality. Without doubt, life is a continuous process, and with its continuity, as days pass on, changes occur progressively in all facets of human endeavours.. With the continuity of life, we, of recent, witness the emergence of two intellectual giants who are redefining the dynamisms of governance in Nigeria, gingering on our hope with their highly positive interventions–stirring in us energetic vistas of a better country: I salute the undying courage of the duo: The Governor of Borno state, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum; and the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami.
In many way, these two astute great intellectuals have so many things in common, perhaps one of the many reasons they both have strong and unflinching respect and regards for each other, as could be seen from their interactions. But, before delving into the annal of changes they have effected in their different fronts, we must as a matter of fact and necessity, veer back into their days of struggle tucked behind the glare of the public. For anyone to be great and have his name resonating just like these two great change-makers, he must have been able to slug it out with myriad of challenges in life and being able to come out of them stronger and bolder and more prepared to tackle greater challenges in the future, like an iron bar after the baptism of fire because a life of triumph and success is an unending successions of challenges after challenges and struggles after struggles. Certainly, behind their many successful stories full of inspirations for others was their innate and unceasing quest for self-realisation and their readiness to triumph in the many wars against defying odds and tribulations since their young age. Definitely, one doesn’t wake up one day to have success clinging to him like glue, every success is as a result of many nights, days, months and probably years of sacrifice behind the screen.
In Zulum’s quest for educational achievement, he defied the problem of sponsorship, by grabbing the unsavory opportunity to be a commercial taxi driver for many years, not only this, he also sold firewoods at different occasions and did an odd of menial jobs just for him to be able to go to school– believing fervently that, education is the only thing that can give one the opportunity to touch innumerable lives. And for Pantami, the story is also not different, he was a mechanic and a tailor for many years. in fact, out of his passion towards being self-reliant and his quest to be bouyant enough to positively touch the lives of others, he once ventured into rural-to-urban trading –buying rice from the neighborhood villages and selling it in town. The two of them firmly believed in the fact that, it’s worth sacrificing today for tomorrow to shine the brightest. Just as it is, to be great is to have inspiring stories to tell and through these stories too, to infuse inspirations and aspirations in others.
For Pantami to leave a country with avalanche of opportunities at his disposals reinstate the fact of his earnest love for this country. He firmly believes in the assertion that “Home is home, and that there’s no place like home”. Despite the series of challenges in the agency he was called upon to pilot on coming back to Nigeria, he didn’t allow the bad situation of things in the agency to appall his decision. In fact, courageously he accepted the call to serve and relocated to breathe life into NITDA, which, prior to his homecoming and assumption of leadership there was a moribund and an unknown entity with virtually no impact in the society. Today, NITDA is everywhere in Nigeria. Through his dynamic and innovative leadership the agency has become an ubiquitous phenomenon whose positive impacts have come to our doorsteps.This is what change is all about, a regurgitation and strategizing of hope where it is hitherto lost or dying. This is exactly what Pantami has done at NITDA.
Likewise, for Zulum to be wholly accepted and so much loved by all citizens of Borno is simply the summation of how much he has impacted and infused Borno state and its people with rapid currents of true changes.
Maiduguri had been devasted by insurgency. The city which used to be a place everyone craved to dwell in had become a place of nightmares. Zulum had previously served in Maiduguri as a lecturer and a commissioner, but because of the positions he held then, very few knew about him until he became the governor. Now, thank to the depth, range and the vastness of the work which is hinged on the efforts made so far to salvage Maiduguri and the entirety of Borno state from the evil clutches of insurgents. As a Governor, he stood for the security of his people, despite being faced with challenges, which is, as a Nigerian, very rare–to stand for the truth. Governor Zulum made truth his philosophy of life, and consequently, Borno state, under his zealous watch, would change, and for the history, his name would become a pillar of light and beckon of hope.
In the same vein, the current Minister of Communications and Digital economy, Dr. Pantami is proving to us that leadership encompasses nothing more than service to Humanity. Today, no community could come out and say his impact, from the position of DG NITDA to his current ministerial appointment, has not been felt. As a Minister he has proved to Nigerians that under his watch, no unregistered sim would ever be active again, as a part of his effort to curb criminality and contribute towards the security of all Nigerians. This is besides him, creating employment opportunities in the agencies under him, channelling avenues to fund start-ups, his pursuit of digitalizing Nigeria, among others. In Pantami’s view, influential and effective leadership should be about service to humanity and good leadership should eschew discrimination in all ramifications among all categories of Nigerians. Today, under his watch, numerous women are being given opportunities and given the chance to contribute while the less privileged ones are given the avenue to get groomed and be provided with opportunities. The disabled, long considered as the pariahs of the society are also not left out.
In many ways, Zulum and Pantami are proving with their people-oriented leadership that, leadership is nothing but about doing the right things even at the detriment of their lives and interests. No wonder Pantami has often been a target of mischievous plots, deliberately and internationally meant to discourage him. But obviously, as could be seen, every mischievous plot against him does nothing to discourage him rather it imbued him with greater zeal and reinvigorate him with more prowess to do more. To always put the people first even if it means sacrificing one’s life and convenience so long as history would be made and the mandate thrust upon him is neither compromised nor lost. Zulum, likewise is upright like the Rock of Gibraltar, never unnerved by all forms of persecution so long as he satisfactorily deliver good works unapologetically, so long as he is able to sustain the fight against the devastating insurgency in his state and bring back sanity to Maiduguri, so long as he could ensure that numerous students who have dropped out of schools are able to go back, so long as he could ascertain that he find succour for the numberless homeless and refugees stranded on streets and mitigate unemployment. All these demonstrate that Zulum is going through a lot and doing a lot.
In Nigeria, it is apparent that many politicians and leaders today are known to have taken to the slimy paths of being dishonest and delivering bad leadership in order to avoid being persecuted and made targets of blackmailings and many campaigns of calumnies by the numerous retrogressive elements in the country. But, in the face of these numerous tough challenges, betrayals and unrelenting persecutions, Zulum and Pantami have demonstrated to Nigerians, that it is better to work for the betterment of the country, redefining governance and doing the right thing whatever it will take them, cause or cost them, rather than be silent and passive partners of the cliques whose main ambition in governance is personal gratification and self edification. They believe, essentially, that leadership, is about putting the masses first and foremost!
By Adamu Usman Garko, who wrote in from Gombe State.