Nigeria: Governor Zulum's 25-Year Development Plan for Borno State

26 November 2020

Since he assumed office, Professor Babagana Zulum, the governor of Borno State, has continued to endear himself to the indigenes of the state and Nigerians in general for his style of leadership which places emphasis on human capacity development.

It is just as well for a state that has been at the epicentre of a brutal relentless insurgency that has continued to claim thousands of life, disrupted and displaced thousands more. In such dire circumstances, to have a leader of the calibre of Governor Zulum is the right tonic to inject the much needed hope to a people having to live with the trauma of violence and its negative effects in their lives.

It is in this context that Governor Zulum proposed an unprecedented 25-year development plan for Borno which he hopes will bring succour to the beleaguered people of the state and encourage them to recover from the ravages of the insurgency.

In Governor Zulum's words "we must take deliberate steps to rebuild our communities, resettle our people and empower them to be self-reliant despite the challenges. Our people cannot continue to rely on hand outs and it is our duty as a government to provide a roadmap for recovery and prosperity, for current and future generations".

The plan which was developed through an inclusive and participatory approach will be implemented through nine strategic pillars which include human capital development (mass education and skills acquisition), leadership in agriculture, health, sustainable development and regional trade hub.

Other key areas include reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement, purposeful infrastructure, accountable governance, peace and security.

While we laud Governor Zulum's commendable initiative in putting out this comprehensive and far reaching plan, we would however like to point out that the plan needs to be tempered with some realism.

First of all the constitutional term limit of Governor Zulum is two terms which is eight years altogether. A 25-year development plan for the state will certainly spill over into the tenure of another governor who may not want to continue with some or all of the programmes as we have witnessed in other states.

In view of that we suggest that Governor Zulum reviews and restricts the plan to his tenure of eight years which is within his constitutional term allowance.

The security situation in the state should also be factored in per the implementation of the plan. This is because it makes no sense to build a project only to see insurgents destroy it. Again it must also be noted that many areas of the state have been deserted by their inhabitants many of whom are living in camps for Internally Displaced Peoples (IDP). Since the projects are meant for them, in the main, they would have little meaning to their lives and livelihood, thereby inadvertently defeating the aim.

In this regard Governor Zulum should as a precautionary measure, consider implementing aspects of the plan in areas of the state where peace has returned for effective monitoring and evaluation.

On the whole, to guarantee security of the projects and programmes under the plan, it is suggested that Governor Zulum waits until the war is over and comprehensive security is restored in the state. While awaiting the end of the war he should concentrate on maintaining and even increasing the current tempo of laudable development initiatives he is embarking on. The emphasis at this stage should be for all concerted efforts to bring an end to the prevailing insecurity so as to provide an enabling environment for the people of Borno State to benefit from this uncommon governor's purposeful drive and passion to uplift the state.

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