The responsibility of being an assistant or deputy to a leader or head of an organization, state or country is, on the face of it, as easy as a picnic. All one needs to do, it is assumed by many, is to sit pretty, perform whatever chore is assigned to you once in a while by your principal and generally make yourself useful one way or the other – or just pretend to do so – and that would be that. Or so it is generally believed.
In reality, however, the typical Deputy, Vice or Assistant must be a bit more than that, especially if he or she happens to be the second-in-command to man like Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno state who, by nature and orientation, values competence and performance far above eye–service and court–jesting. With such a chief executive at the helm of affairs, whoever is his deputy had better lived up to expectation, or else…
No one knows that more than Alhaji Usman Mamman Durkwa. Right from the moment he was anointed as the deputy of Shettima in 2015, Durkwa was keenly aware of the demands of his job: he must be above boar; he must be capable and, when tested, prove his mettle sufficiently enough to be trusted.
Accordingly, just as his principal hit the ground running right from the unset of his first term in 2011 – a trend he has maintained after his re-election in 2015 – Durkwa has been acting in the same vein from the moment he was sworn-in as Deputy Governor of Borno state in October 2015. So much so that even at the height of the destructive indulgence of Boko Haram, an exemplary working relationship reigned between Durkwa and the Shettima. So much so that whenever the need arises, the governor wouldn’t hesitate to let his deputy preside as the Acting Chief Executive of Borno state.
Two recent examples would underscore the foregoing. While on an inspection tour of ongoing construction work at Phase II of the Zanna Umar Mustapha Legacy Garden, Maiduguri, he was received at the site by none other than his deputy, Durkwa, who also doubles as Chairman of the Committee on the Construction of the Estate. Durkwa and the site engineer, Yarima Sale conducted Shettima round the project.
Shortly before then, Durkwa had reigned for quite a while as Acting Governor, during which period he, among other acts, visited the 7th Division of the Nigerian Army headquarters in Maiduguri. He was received by Major-General Lucy Itabo who thanked him for the visit and assured him that all was well.
Call him on all-action, loyal, tested and trusted second-in-command and you would be dead on target. A veritable team-worker, Durkwa is widely respected for his tireless effort to help keep the machinery of government ticking even under the most challenging circumstances. Level-headed, cool, proactive and hardworking, he is also humble as he is decisive.
Consider the scene that was witnessed by a number of people on June 11, 2017. None other than Durkwa, found it expedient to clear the refuse and drainage around his private residence in Santimari, Maiduguri that day. Assisted by a group of youths, the Deputy Governor ”worked energetically as if he had been engaging in such chore for a long time,” to paraphrase one of the youths aiding him do that labour.
Indeed, right from his childhood through his elementary school, college and higher institution, Durkwa has been an embodiment of humility. To him, it doesn’t matter what position or rank one must have attained in life; what is of essence is, in his view, the need to be as godly and humble.
With such endearing attitudes and attributes, it has come as little or no surprise that Durkwa has been progressing in leaps and bounds over the years to the extent of rising to the second highest political post in his home state against many odds. Only the sky, needless to say, is his limit.
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