MY 8 YEARS AS GOVERNOR OF BORNO
By Kashim Shettima
Our good people of Borno State, I stand before you to say thank you. I say thank you, with the same deep sense of privilege and gratitude when, in May 2011, you first entrusted me with the stewardship of this state. I say thank you with the same sense of privilege, gratitude and honour when four years ago, in 2015, you renewed the mandate given to me. I say another thank you for standing by me and by us, through thick and thin in the last eight years.
Our journey of 8 years has not been that of roses. Our journey has been full of trials even though in the midst of unimaginable perseverance and indomitable courage. These perseverance and courage have come to define how the world now sees the people of Borno State.
Fellow citizens, you may be kind to recall the situation under which I and my beloved deputy Zannah Umar Mustapha of blessed memory, took the Oath of office in this very place on May 29, 2011. We came into office at a time the notorious Boko Haram was already well domiciled in Maiduguri, our capital and the most populated part of Borno State. We came in when the insurgents were carrying out serial assassinations, killing people at will in Maiduguri. We came in when the insurgents, young and controlled had territories they controlled in Maiduguri and Jere.
Ladies and gentlemen, we inherited in 2011 a monstrous crisis that kept on dragging us back. It is correct to say that since Borno State was created in 1976, our 8-year administration was faced with the most severe and most inhuman challenge.
Together with all of you, we passed through many a storm, but you did not waver. You have soldiered with me when many died on the streets and in the bushes.
During these years, some who were rich became poor, some who had shelters turned homeless, some who had villages became refugees, some who had food became beggars, farmers witnessed famine, some who slept at night woke at dawn to nightmares as they or their families were slaughtered.
The insurgents took many steps to take us backward. As we rebuilt communities, they destroyed them. As we upgraded schools, the insurgents destroyed them. They destroyed hospitals after we had equipped and commissioned them. For every step we took, the insurgents took us back by two or more steps. In addition to rebuilding communities, schools and hospitals, we were also faced with a severe humanitarian crisis which arose from massive displacement of people. At some point, we had to deploy the strategy of releasing funds to families whose loved ones fell victims of attacks. We did so as a strategic way of strengthening the faith of citizens so that those in agony were not frustrated into joining the Boko Haram.
We served under conditions which I pray and hope that no leader anywhere in the world should ever face.
Our leadership was tested, but the great credit goes to you, the people of Borno State, for you were able to prove that sometimes, followership can be more inspiring than leadership.
In all of our 8 years, if I slept every night in hopes to govern the next day, it was because you the people always stood by me. You, the people of Borno State never doubted me. You never questioned my integrity. You never doubted my competence or commitment. You believed in me not because I was the best, but because of your culture of hospitality, loyalty and followership. For me, you, the people of Borno State have been the best any leader should wish to serve.
In the last eight years, I have been to all parts of Borno State. In these movements, you never showed anything other than a sense of belief that we are a people of destiny. Whether it was here in Maiduguri; in faraway Abadam or Chibok, I have seen the struggles of our people and their pains. I am an eyewitness to courage and the spirit of resilience exhibited by our people.
The resilience of you the people of Borno State was the major instrument on which we stood against the enemies of our peace. It was with your great hearts of sacrifice that we confronted the enemy. I will never forget the sacrifices of parents who encouraged and supported the strong will of their sons and daughters who volunteered themselves as fighters of our freedom under the Civilian JTF. These brave young men and women constituted the turnaround movement in the battle against Boko Haram. They offered intelligence, risked flesh and blood, they fished out the enemies within and they fought more with spirit than with spear. These young sons and daughters of Borno depended on one weapon only, their courage that was built on limitless and unconditional love for Borno.
These sons and daughters fought side by side with our patriotic and gallant armed forces, many of whom died protecting our freedom, our liberty and our existence. By the grace of God, the labour of all our fallen heroes and those who work for our peace, shall never be in vain.
I am grateful to all the men and women in the military, the police, the DSS and para-military who have held Borno thus far. I am grateful to our President, Commander-in-Chief, Muhammadu Buhari, who more than any of his predecessors, has shown the greatest compassion towards us, the people of Borno State. I am grateful to the Vice President, Ministers, heads of federal establishments, humanitarian and development experts from outside Nigeria and from within, who either helped in our peace building efforts or helped our citizens in need.
Borno has witnessed difficult times but our story has been that of struggle for restoration. Together, we have internalized the courage to rebuild.
You, the people of Borno State have been with me as we turned ruined places into comforts of abode. We have with your support, been able to rebuild more than 30,000 homes spread in Gwoza, Bama, Mobbar, Damboa, Nganzai, Mafa, Konduga, Kaga, Maiduguri and other locations.
With your support, we were able to build seven new General Hospitals, overhaul 18 General Hospitals, establish diagnostic and kidney dialysis centres. Together, we were able to raise our number of medical doctors from the 65 we inherited in 2011 to 152 at the moment. Together, we were also able to increase the number of our nurses and midwives from 980 to 1,850. Together, we sent 60 of our doctors to study medicine and surgery in Sudan with the hope that by next year, Borno may have the highest number of female medical doctors in northern Nigeria. Together, we have upgraded our health schools to colleges. Together, we have improved access to healthcare system in Borno State.
Fellow citizens, we have worked with you to lay a foundation for the industrial recovery of Borno State. Our new Industrial Park currently has 16 manufacturing plants. The park is designed to attract more industries. Our goal is to increase agricultural value chain for the produce of our farmers in Borno State. Together, we have set up a modern seedling production centre and acquired a lot of agricultural machinery that will be more than useful to us especially when the Chad Basin irrigation area becomes safe for agricultural practices. Borno will regain sustainable peace. I am optimistic that insha’Allah, peace will come to Borno.
More than any sector, we have accorded very special attention to education. Boko Haram’s main mission was to kill education in Borno State. It was with the same objective that our daughters were abducted in Chibok five years ago.
Our decision to support the aspiration of a popular, hard working and goal driven Professor Babagana Umara Zulum was to send a clear message to the world that Borno is married to the education of our children.
Terror was born out of ignorance, and you have been with me as we started building model schools. Our young boys should no longer find solace in guns but their gifted brains. Nor should our girls in their nubile innocence be married off before they can speak for themselves. The future should belong to those boys and girls we are now breeding. They should find role models outside the raggedy world of militancy or the stifling premature matrimony of today. Our boys and girls should find models among great leaders, and scientists, and lawyers, and pilots, and innovators, and writers, and business moguls, and trailblazers.
With your endless support, we began an accelerated revolution in Borno’s public education. We constructed 1,711 classrooms and other school buildings in 256 primary and junior secondary schools. We established 16 new secondary schools, renovated more than half of our over 80 secondary schools and built 44 Mega primary schools of world class infrastructure. These schools are to cater for more than 50,000 orphans whose parents were killed by Boko Haram. We deliberately located half of the schools in Maiduguri so that a sitting Governor can personally ensure the welfare of these orphans, many of whom have neither mothers nor relatives. Majority of them have no one at all. Together, we have been able to establish Borno’s first state University since our state was created in 1976. Together, we have been able to make huge impact in all our tertiary institutions made up of the Ramat Polytechnic and Colleges.
Ladies and gentlemen, the philosophy of our revolution in public education does not end with the beautiful structures and facilities but with the hearts and minds that we save. It is about the generations that we hope to renew. Education is the light with the strength to banish the darkness of insurgency and the destruction of the young. For me, the best legacy a generation can leave behind is a realistic hope for bright and audacious minds.
My good people of Borno State, the job of rebuilding our state and our people has only just begun. I have done my modest part, and I am bowing out. I am happy that the stage is shifting to a great and worthy son of Borno. The stage is shifting to a man who made himself out of a low estate, a man who drove a taxi and sold firewood to pay his school fees, a man with an uncommon touch, a dynamo of a worker. Babagana Umara Zulum is very well prepared for the task ahead. He showed it expertly as a commissioner. Insha’Allah, he will excel as the chief shepherd of the state. He is very energetic and very brilliant. My prayer is for Professor Babagana Umara Zulum to surpass my achievements by a wide margin. I call on you the people of Borno State, to extend to Professor Zulum and his deputy, the cooperation and loyalty you gave to me. Professor Zulum will by Allah’s will take Borno to an even higher place.
I thank all those who worked with us every step of the way. I am grateful to our traditional rulers, elders and leaders of our party and members, for their overwhelming support and loyalty. I thank everyone who served with me as commissioners, advisers, permanent secretaries, directors, heads and members of government agencies and commissions, senior and special assistants, chairpersons and members of all committees we constituted in the last eight years. I thank civil servants at the state and local government levels and professionals in various fields. I am grateful to artisans and labourers who gave their physical strength in the rebuilding of Borno State. Their strength was key in helping us to achieve so much under the most difficult conditions. I thank all those who worked with me especially my aides, office assistants, clerks, messengers, drivers, cooks and stewards for their un-quantifiable loyalty and love. I thank everyone who worked with me for being patient and for standing by me.
And finally, for the people of Borno State, I thank you once again, for allowing me to serve you in the best possible way I could. I know for sure that I must have pleased but also disappointed some people. I have made promises I couldn’t keep the same way I delivered on some good things I didn’t promise ab initio. Pre-election promises are oftentimes different from the realities leaders become confronted with. Leadership often attracts both praises and condemnation. Leadership could make one lose himself but then, as Mahatma Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
I thank you for giving me that privilege of a lifetime.
Serving the people of Borno State as your Governor in the last eight years has been the greatest honour of my life. I am happy and proud to be handing over Borno to a man with the potentials and passion to surpass what we were able to achieve as a team.
Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, knowing Professor Zulum will soon be your next Governor, insha’Allah, I am excited to say goodbye. For those that love me, I love you back. For those who hate me, I love you, also. For everyone, I will borrow the words of Mamman Vatsa by saying I leave you all with a smile. See you all at the Next Level.
Being farewell speech delivered by outgoing Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima at the swearing-in of Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum in Maiduguri, Wed, May 29, 2019.