The swearing in of new commissioners and other appointees by Borno State Governor Professor Babagana Umara Zulum on Monday boosted the number of academics in the administration. Daily Trust on Sunday shines a light on these teachers.
No fever that seven professors and three doctorate holders have been appointed to key positions, including commissioners and chairpersons of some critical agencies by the Governor of Borno State, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum.
These scholars, all from the University of Maiduguri, are Prof. Isa Marte Hussaini, Prof. Hauwa Biu, Prof. Bulama Kagu, Prof. Suleiman Bello, Prof. Mohammed Arab Alhaji, Prof. Adamu Alooma and Professor Ibrahim Bukar.
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Daily Trust on Sunday understood that Zulum was employing the services of his ivory tower colleagues in his administration to help advance the state, particularly in his efforts to restore peace, reorganize education, and expand agricultural activities to return him its lost glory.
Hussaini, who is currently the governor’s chief of staff, is a professor of pharmacy. He was appointed Higher Education Commissioner in 2019 and is said to have played credibly, resurrecting and transforming public higher education institutions.
He was elevated to chief of staff in August 2020 following the death of Dr Babagana Wakil, who was one of the governor’s closest allies. He represented Zulum in many functions inside and outside the state.
Professor Hauwa Biu is Chairman of the Borno State Education Trust Fund. Biu is an education teacher.
Also, Prof. Bulama Kagu is Chairman of the Borno State Universal Basic Education Board. He was appointed in October 2021.
Kagu is also an education teacher.
Professor Suleiman Bello, an educationist, is the chairman of the Borno Teaching Service Board.
The latest addition is Professor Mohammed Arab Alhaji, who has been deployed as health commissioner. He is the first professor (at least since 1999) to lead Borno’s health care sector.
Professor Alhaji is a doctor specializing in gastroenterology, paediatrics, hepatology and nutrition. He headed the specialty clinics for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition/Infectious Diseases at Maiduguri University Hospital (UMTH).
Governor Zulum had in September 2020 appointed Arab as Medical Director of the Board of Management of Borno State Hospital before recently appointing him as the first Borno professor to oversee the Ministry of Health.
Professor Arab was a resident doctor in Ibadan and Kaduna. He has served on over 20 technical committees and as a facilitator/investigator in several government and non-governmental organization programs associated with the Federal Ministry of Health, Borno State Government, World Health Organization Health (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund. (UNICEF), Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA), among others.
In addition, the governor appointed two professors to contest the state’s last local government election. They won in Gwoza and Damboa local government areas respectively. Prof. Adamu Alooma is the current Chairman of Damboa Local Government while Prof. Ibrahim Bukar oversees Gwoza. They contested on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party in 2020.
While Alooma is a professor of banking and finance, Bukar is a professor of education.
Apart from professors, Governor Zulum has also appointed PhDs as commissioners.
Dr. Babagana Mustapha Malumbe is the Commissioner for Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation while Dr. Ali Bunu Mustapha is the new Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The governor also hired four engineers, architects and lawyers.
Speaking on why the governor decided to appoint his colleagues, a senior lecturer in the Department of Physics at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU), Bauchi, Dr. Malam Sani Ali, said he believed that Zulum would return to academia after his political career, adding, “I’m sure they weren’t included in the cabinet just because they’re family and friends. Each of them has a specific role to play in the system.
He however said that there were fears that sometimes academicians do not make good administrators, but also added that a good number of them had obtained honorable results in this area.
“I don’t think it’s fair to say that academics aren’t good at administration. They work well. A good example is Zulum itself. We admit, however, that some of them performed below expectations,” he said.
Ali added that in every profession there are good people and bad people. “I’m not saying those who failed are bad, they only failed because they were taken out of their calling. Sometimes they don’t practice what they teach. There are people who are better at teaching but not really good at life.
“We have to look at the circumstances under which academics entered the administration. Many of them have been called because they are friends with certain influential people, who in turn can make or break their dates. They were not called to serve the people but certain interests; that is why they failed.
“We all know that academics are poorly paid, so many of us want to leave the profession and seek greener pastures elsewhere. And duress drives many people to compromise.
“We pray that the appointment of many academicians by Governor Zulum does not come under the other directive. We hope that the political environment will allow them to fulfill the roles assigned to them,” he said .