Is Governor Zulum telling the country something we would rather not hear? Is it possible that he has stepped on forbidden grounds? Is he attempting to forcibly wean some people off their addiction to the national honey pot, which is diverted, albeit to sustain this unending war on terror? Has the war against terrorism and insurgency created a cash cow for some unscrupulous and unpatriotic politicians and military officers?


Have anyone seen the video clip of the recent attack on the convoy of Governor Zulum of Borno State by alleged Boko Haram insurgents?

I would advise that we take a moment and watch the video clip of the attack in order for us to make sense of this article, please.

News reports said that the governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum was en route to Monguno when his convoy came under fire by armed elements suspected to be Boko Haram terrorists. The governor was reportedly on his way to the home town of the current national security adviser, retired Major General Babagana Monguno, to distribute foods to about 80,000 internally displaced persons. Thankfully the governor and his entourage escaped unhurt.

The video clip went viral online in the last 24 hours, after news of the attack was first reported by local and international media.

Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States, in the North-East of Nigeria, have been the epicentres of the Boko Haram insurgency, which has reportedly claimed tens of thousands of lives, including those of soldiers, civilians and humanitarian aid workers, over the last ten years.

Large populations, estimated at 2.3 million people, have been dislodged within the most affected states, with internally displaced persons camps established to accommodate them. Several thousands of children have been orphaned, just as women and men alike have lost their spouses and other loved ones. Women and children are routinely abducted in these States and used as sex slaves, child soldiers and suicide bombers.

The scale of the tragedy and humanitarian crisis precipitated by the Boko Haram insurgency has assumed global dimensions, with the group rated as the deadliest terrorist group in the world, according to an April publication by the Brookings Institution.

Given the grim statistics of Boko Haram’s reign of terror, and the series of prior high profile attacks on military bases, alongside military and humanitarian convoys, one would wonder why the attack on Governor Zulum is different.

This particular attack is different for a number of reasons, chief among which is the fact that as governor, Professor Zulum is the chief security officer of Borno State and has, since his inauguration in May 2019, shown an uncommon dedication to duty. The attack on his convoy can therefore be described as audacious and daring.

Earlier in June, Governor Zulum had publicly and categorically stated, contrary to claims by the military, that reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement could not be carried out in five – Guzamala, Kukawa, Abadam, Marte and Kaka – out of the twenty seven local government areas of the State, due to the presence of and continuing terrorist activities…


Governor Zulum has shown rare courage, as he determinedly toured every local government in Borno State, taking a message of peace, hope and development to his constituents. It is remarkable, for instance, that in spite of the attack, he still continued with the journey to Monguno.

Through his hands-on approach to governance, Governor Zulum has sent a strong message to public servants and citizens alike that under his watch, he is determined to justify the mandate freely given to him by the people of Borno State, by investing in the human capital development and infrastructural reconstruction of the State ravaged by insurgency.

The governor has similarly and routinely challenged the military authorities about the true state of security in Borno. On many occasions, he had questioned the veracity of their claims and their commitment to ending the insurgency, in spite of the avowed commitment of the Buhari administration and the military high command.

Earlier in June, Governor Zulum had publicly and categorically stated, contrary to claims by the military, that reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement could not be carried out in five – Guzamala, Kukawa, Abadam, Marte and Kaka – out of the twenty seven local government areas of the State, due to the presence of and continuing terrorist activities of Boko Haram insurgents.

Governor Zulum had also visited President Buhari a few months ago, and fearlessly expressed his concerns about the management of the insurgency in the State, especially following the offensive against the insurgents by Chadian armed forces, over the killing of about ninety-one members of their military, a few months earlier, and the massive influx of the retreating terrorists into Nigeria, around the Lake Chad region.

In a way, Governor Zulum has emerged as an activist of sorts over the last one year of his governorship, and he has elicited my personal admiration. Maiduguri holds a special place in my heart because of the time I spent there in Shehu Garbai Primary School; Federal Government College, Maiduguri; and the University of Maiduguri, cumulatively, between 1976 and 1999.

It is for this reason that I believe that all people of goodwill should pay attention to what Governor Zulum says in the video clip under reference.

Governor Zulum repeatedly and forcefully appears to suggest that the attack on his convoy was not carried out by the insurgents, even as a military officer strenuously and blithely tried to convince him otherwise.

Again, he questions the commitment of Nigeria’s security forces in the fight against the insurgents, given their superior numbers, in comparison to those of the insurgents.

The force of conviction with which he has interrogated past claims of the security forces and his vehement challenge of the claims by the military officer in the video clip, should worry us all because it raises the question of whether some people want Governor Zulum dead.


A common narrative that has filtered out from the front lines of the battle against the insurgents is that they appear to have superior weaponry, for which reason they had often intimidated our soldiers and sacked military bases, with apparent ease.

This, of course, raises additional concerns about the resourcing of the war against terror, given the staggering financial costs to the nation and the mounting human casualties.

As the chief security officer of Borno State, Governor Zulum ought to have statutory access to intelligence and security briefings from the service arms in the State, including the Joint Task Force, which should provide him information available to a select few.

For a man who has demonstrated such great respect for his people through the seriousness with which he has pursued his duties, it is difficult not to give him the benefit of the doubt.

The force of conviction with which he has interrogated past claims of the security forces and his vehement challenge of the claims by the military officer in the video clip, should worry us all because it raises the question of whether some people want Governor Zulum dead.

The entire episode raises fundamental questions, which I have carefully attempted to interrogate and navigate, given that they border on the sensitive matter of ‘national security.

Is Governor Zulum telling the country something we would rather not hear? Is it possible that he has stepped on forbidden grounds? Is he attempting to forcibly wean some people off their addiction to the national honey pot, which is diverted, albeit to sustain this unending war on terror? Has the war against terrorism and insurgency created a cash cow for some unscrupulous and unpatriotic politicians and military officers?

This is certainly another of the many urgent matters of national security, which ought to elicit a swift response, thorough investigation and subsequent action from the relevant authorities. It would be interesting to observe what would happen in the days and weeks ahead.

Frank Nweke II, a public policy expert, was and member of Nigeria’s federal cabinet between 2003 and 2007.