BY MUHAMMAD M. ALI, MARCH 01, 2022 | 05:00 PM
It is no more a new rumor that APC may be considering Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum, who is only three years old as governor of Borno, for vice president come 2023.
I like the rumor not for anything but for the personality involved: A professor, disciplinarian.
Having turned things around in Borno, the hotbed of Boko Haram insurgency, Zulum, on many occasions challenged security agencies for not doing the needful, a typical example that stood out is an amateur video many months ago where Zulum and his entourage could be seen taking to task some security personnel at Jimtilo roadblock, few kilometers to Maiduguri.
Zulum instilled discipline in the Borno polity and clearly frowned against indiscipline.
Zulum consolidated his predecessors' unfinished projects and built more unique projects, including the first flyover in the metropolis.
He also influenced the re-opening of local roads that were closed as a result of Boko haram. This resulted in boosting economic activity in the state.
All these! And still trying to sanitize civil service as well as encouraging durable solution for the conditions of internally displaced persons—that which brought him under several attack, especially in those unsecured areas he had visited just to have the first-hand information on where and how to help in bringing succor to the condition of the victims; also, by contributing towards ending the insurgency.
Some of these policies he used in achieving these projects might be too aggressive, but certainly, the results are laudable, especially, considering the short period of time it was achieved.
That did not only make him suitable for the VP office but suitable as adviser on many areas to a president.
That is aside, as we all know, in Nigerian politics, competence is less attractive. However, what makes way for such offices is one loyalty to power brokers – or to some extent one's popularity.
Gov. Zulum may also be having the political backing or having the power brokers behind him as it is also certain that he is very popular nationwide.
Yet, to him, again, the vice president seat is still one of those options he has. He still has a tenure to bid for.
But my observation here, is the office of VP now might be good for him and may also be bad for him. And that will also depend on what he truly wants– just a vice president, and that is all – then, I would say, the seat is good for him now – and he should hurry to conquer it while his flag is flying higher.
Where the problem lies is, if he harbors ambition to also become president in future, that is where the VP’s office now might not help him toward achieving that.
Nigeria does not have a long history of democracy but short journey of it has really brought some lesson to learn from.
Gov. Babagana Umara Zulum was not a grassroot politician when he was picked to become a commissioner, and subsequently to the number one seat in the state.
His story is typical to that of our former Nigerian VP, Mohammed Namadi Sambo. Like Zulum, Sambo was also a practicing architect who became a commissioner, and from there to governor.
If Namadi had been a grassroot politician before becoming VP, he would have been like former VP Atiku Abubakar who has continued to be relevant in politics.
I am not saying that Gov. Zulum will not be relevant like Namadi after VP office – not at all. Luck may play its part, just like the way Ebele Goodluck Jonathan, luckily become the 13th Nigerian president.
What I am saying is, Gov. Zulum can work his way easily to become Nigeria’s president by remaining as governor to further deepen his political connection, build his political soldiers within and outside the confines of the North East.
The governor’s office can build that team for him but VP office may not, simply because, in Nigerian politics, VP mostly plays an advisory role. In the case of Atiku Abubakar is different.
What made him the most powerful vice president is him being a grassroot politician, who knows the nook and cranny of political playing field.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu, APC chieftain, is powerful today also because of that governorship seat he held.
If Prof. Yemi Osibanjo has a strong political team or connection, do you think he will waste time in declaring his ambition?
Gov. Zulum can be VP or president, depending on what he wants.
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