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Reward for patriotism

Published by The Nation on Tue, 23 Feb 2021


EditorialIsa Akinbode, a retired medical doctor graduate of the University of Maiduguri, just got honoured by the Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum, for his sense of duty and patriotism.Dr. Akinbode, who for 22 years had served diligently with the General Hospital inMugonobefore his retirement, had remained faithful to his Hippocratic Oathby continuing to treat his patients, even amidst a serious insurgency, that posed acute danger to both his life, and his ability to do his job.But the governor, on a tour of the hospital, had got wind of his odyssey; and approved, for the doctor, N13.9 millionarrears for unpaid services, for the Borno public. That was the value of the state governments contractual obligation to the doctor, resulting from bureaucratic delays on a contract appointment, ordered by the governors predecessor, now Senator Kashim Shettima. To further show the Borno peoples appreciation, Governor Zulum added a car gift (for the doctor) and a civil service employment offer, for the doctors daughter, who equally graduated from the University of Maiduguri.We commend Dr.Akinbode, a native ofOgunstate who ordinarily, in self-preservation, could have abandoned the North East, where he had been for years, beforeBokoHaram, to return to his safer home state; or even totally flee the country, as many of his colleagues in the medical profession. But he chose to stay back and serve the people, even at the risk of deathand state indebtedness. He was evenallegedlyabducted once by the insurgents and released.The choice to stay and continue saving lives in a state far from his ancestral state, given the renewed ethnic sentiments and bureaucratic bottlenecks that delayed the payment of his contractual entitlements, marks him out as a rare patriot in a very charged socio-political environment.We commend former Governor, Senator KashimShettima. Hehad a history of investing in those who come to serve in the state, either as youth corps members, or as non-indigene staff in the state civil service. He in fact started the contractual offer, tothe medical doctor in question.We also commend Governor Zulum, who has continued wherehis predecessor stopped. Beyondfacilitating the payment of the doctors entitlement, the car gift, and offering the daughter employment, he is very active in the education and health sectors, with physical and constant visits to schools and hospitals.Earlier in his tenurein February 2020, he had given one school teacher, Obiageli Mazi, a cash gift; and a promotion, from class teacher to assistant headmistress,in a school she haddared all odds to remain teaching, despite the insurrection. She was, during the governors visit on that day, the only teacher on duty, which spoke to how punctual and dutiful she had always been, as her colleagues and former pupils later referenced. For a rare display of dedication and sacrifice, the governor gave her national exposure and appreciation.We see these (and other reported and unreported acts of the human family) as evidence that the best humans are still with us. Even though divisive political rhetoric often come from politicians, ShettimaandZulumhaveshown that any leader,desirous of progress, can actively lead by example. The Borno examplestandsin complete contradiction to some governors in the South East that sacked civil servants from neighbouring states.We equally know that these stories of diligence and patriotism are not unique to the teacher and the doctor under reference here. There are millions of their ilk all over the country, just serving humanity in ways they can, irrespective of their ancestral linkages. These incidents must force introspection in all Nigerians. These two, for instance, did not go with the usual non-charlance of civil servants across the country. Their sense of duty stood them out.These Borno governors have shown true understanding of leadership, by being houghtfully proactive. We equally hope that other Nigerians, especially politicians and civil servantsoften known for nepotism and for deliberatelycreating bureaucratic bottle necks like the one that affected the medical doctor, would change their attitude to work.In all, humanity is the same; and the best of us must be put forward always for our general development. We wish for a Nigeriawhere only excellenceand merit matter.
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