Senior officials, including some secretaries who currently oversee affairs, were absent with secretariats mostly empty when Governor Babagana Umara Zulum undertook surprise tour of six local government areas in southern and central Borno State.
The governor had gone to monitor the quality of governance at the grassroots and to assess ongoing projects, but found local government secretariats deserted.
The governor had departed Maiduguri on Wednesday and drove to Chibok, Bama, Gwoza, Damboa, Konduga and Askira-Uba Local Governments where he passed the night before heading back on Thursday evening.
The state government had two weeks ago, directed top government officials and senior civil servants to report to work after easing its lockdown to prevent spread of coronavirus.
Senior officials at local government areas in Borno are notorious for abandoning their local government to operate in Maiduguri only to return there for few days when FAAC allocations are received, or when they know the governor would be visiting.
A statement posted on Friday on the facebook page of the governor said, Zulum took the “clever officials by surprise this time because not even his security details thought he was travelling far from the state capital during the Ramadan and with Sallah just few days away.”
The governor, who was apparently angry at the development, said in strong terms “None of the heads of department is around, neither the Secretary nor the other principal officers are reporting to duty. Look at the Secretariat, termites all over, an indication that nobody is operating in the Secretariat. Government cannot allow this situation to continue. We came from Maiduguri to determine the presence of senior public servants at their places of work.
“We have been pleading with them for quite sometime, to be operating from these local government areas so that citizens will feel the impact of governance at the grassroots but from all indication, many are not listening. We will take punitive measures because we cannot allow this system to continue.”
Governor takes roll call
The Governor also took roll call of absentee officials including secretaries, heads of department, directors and other ranking official in each of the six local government areas visited.
While doing roll call on Wednesday, Zulum inspected projects being carried out by the state government in Konduga, Bama and Gwoza. In the three places, ranking officials were mostly not on ground. Gwoza’s new secretariat, which the governor commissioned few months ago, was locked.
Zulum’s next destination was Askira town which is the headquarters of Askira-Uba LGA. He passed the night there. Following day, the governor moved to Chibok and Damboa towns. About 16 projects at various levels of completion were inspected by the governor during his two day across the six LGAs.
Meanwhile, Emirs of Bama, Gwoza, Uba, and Askira Emirate councils were all on ground during the governor’s impromptu visits to their palaces. Zulum paid them homage to encourage them.
During a brief remark at Bama Emir’s palace, Zulum announced that any house in Bama not occupied in two weeks would be temporarily allocated to IDPs pending when the owners are ready to occupy them.