“Every day, I trekked for seven kilometers to reach my father’s farm from our home,”
Babagana Umara Zulum recalled. He combined farming with his primary school education in Mafa and Secondary School in Monguno from 1975 to 1980 and 1980 to 85, respectively. After his secondary education, he recalled, he gained admission into Ramat Polytechnic in Maiduguri, owned by the state government, to study for National Diploma in Irrigation Engineering. During this time, he lived with relatives’ off-campus in Kofa Biyu, a densely-populated area and trekked for eight kilometers from Kofa Biyu to Ramat Polytechnic and back whenever he had lectures.
From there, he proceeded to the University of Maiduguri to Study Agricultural Engineering between 1990 and 1994. Afterwards, he proceeded to the University of Ibadan from 1997 to 1998 where he obtained a Masters’ Degree in Soil and Water Engineering. He came back to University of Maiduguri where he started from to undertake a doctoral degree which was successfully completed in 2009 in Agric and Environmental Engineering.
Between 1984 to around 1999 a period of 16 years which he spent in school, he became a commercial driver of taxis, particularly Peugeot 404. At some point, he also drove buses carrying passengers to different villages, and neighboring states. At a later time, he drove commercial pickup trucks carrying firewood from forests. It is during this period working as commercial driver he learned how to fix any vehicle he drove,
It was still as a commercial driver that in 1990, he secured admission into University of Maiduguri for a degree in Agricultural Engineering, and graduated in 1994. After three years, (1997) he again got admission into the University of Ibadan for an MSc in Agricultural Engineering.
He recalled his experience after gaining admission in Ibadan which will always remain memorable, his registration was delayed for three weeks because he could not pay his registration fees. H did not have the money when he departed Maiduguri, but believed he could get some work to do in Lagos. For three weeks, he lived in Alaba Rago working with commercial vehicles and there he raised the money for his tuition. He graduated in 1998 and returned to the civil service as a Senior Agricultural Engineer and later Principal Water Engineer. After obtaining a Master’s Degree, he joined the University of Maiduguri in 1998 as an assistant lecturer. From 2005 to 2009, he obtained PhD in Soil and Water Engineering from University of Maiduguri, rising through the ranks, at some point Deputy Dean and Acting Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural Engineering.
Though he was appointed the Rector of Ramat Polytechnic in 2011 by Governor Shettima, he preferred to retain his job as a lecturer with the University as a result he continue teaching students in UNIMAID during his lecture hours.
As the Rector of Ramat Polytechnic, he is credited with expansions and erection of many capital infrastructure using internally-generated revenue and attracting interventions from federal agencies.
In 2015, Prof was appointed pioneer Commissioner for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement by Governor Shettima, who was quoted as saying “one of my attractions to Zulum was the fact that: despite being in control of billions of naira for reconstruction of thousands of homes, schools and hospitals, “[He] neither bought a personal house nor a personal car for himself. He also came under attack from Boko Haram twice, but that didn’t stop him in his efforts to rebuild substantial parts of Borno.”
Zulum himself confirmed that his appointment as Commissioner for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement was one of his biggest challenges in life.