How Zulum rejigged the civil service, why workers imbibed positive attitudes by Yakubu Ahmed-BK



He minced no words from day one; that he will have zero tolerance to poor work ethics such as corruption, reporting late to work, absenteeism or lackadaisical attitude to official matters. The very first assignment he undertook the very day he was sworn in, in May 2019, was the day he stormed the state secretariat where all the Ministries and some MDAs are domiciled, locked the gates and took an inventory of who, as at 7.30 am, was at work and who was out.

He took a list, recorded the few people at work, rewarded them promptly and warned the absentees to buckle up or face the music.

Since that action, a new civil service was birthed in Borno state. Everybody in the employ of the Borno state civil service took note and took heed. A new Sheriff was in town with sticks and carrots firmly in both hands, ready to reward or reform accordingly.

Professor Babagana Umara Zulum led by example as he demonstrated to all that he will be the first to live to the very stern measures he was willing to beat everybody to tow. He was always the first to be in the office in the morning and always the last to leave. He worked into the night to attend to the multifaceted challenges he inherited, mindful that Borno could, at the time it was sandwiched between the devil and the deep blue sea of a mindless terrorism, ill afford having a Governor who will sleep on duty.

Whatever commitment or sacrifice he asked of any worker, he had already offered his in manifold by putting Borno first and foregoing virtually all the luxuries that come with his executive office.

Today, Borno has shaken off the drawbacks of late coming to office, absenteeism, misconduct, gossips and leaving the office before alloted time.

Heads of MDAs in particular, who had made it a habit to do as they wished now go to their offices daily and timely and close only after official closing hours. A senior director in one of the Ministries who addressed the issue of new work ethics in Borno, but who asked not to be identified said the standards and positive actions which the Governor demanded has made many senior officers to, willingly remain in their offices up to 7.00pm even when there were no work left to be done.

He noted thus "one must be seriously committed and dedicated to his or her work and keep to the ever demanding and tireless pace of Professor Zulum to keep head above water."

This positive attitude, according to many observers, has rubbed on the entire workforce in Borno state. Everyone has turned a new leaf and commitment to work is now total from all and sundry. It has become a new way of life as workers appear to enjoy the new order.

As Ibrahim Habib, a civil servant observes, "we have tasted the aroma of hard work and positive work ethics and there is just no going back."

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