By Gambo Dori
MY piece on the budding mega schools in Borno, in mid-December, attracted plenty of reactions. My colleague, Buhari Hassan, a keen follower and contributor to this page, was one of the first to respond.
Though living in Kaduna, Buhari keeps his nose close to happenings in Borno and did not spare this page for being rather mild and timid in treating the subject matter. He wrote: “Your account of the mega schools built by Governor Kashim Shettima is rather tame and without much conviction.
“As a proud indigene of Borno and product of Hausari Primary school (opposite your family compound) and Yerwa boarding Senior Primary School, I expected you to show more enthusiasm, go into memory lane (as you did in some of your previous write-ups) and juxtapose the current status perhaps with an interactive session with some of the orphaned children and those of Hanagamba, Mbororoji Fulani would have made a great reading. I recall the governor’s pledge to the Fulani Maigadis to build befitting schools and enrol their children. The vision of those parents and their children will be marvellous. Such a stellar performance by Governor Kashim Shettima deserves more than a neutral narrative.”
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I agree with Buhari that the said column was a bit subdued but I would say it’s a matter of style rather than the reporter putting blinkers to such huge achievement. I have gone round to see many of the schools and gathered more briefs on the mega schools – something quite unique in this part of the country.
I am sure many more will view them in the next few days, before inauguration, to confirm assessments that nothing was spared to make these schools truly mega. I am already witnessing the plans for the take-off of the schools, the funding, enrolment of pupils, recruitment of teachers, feeding and transportation arrangements, the whole hog!
The story is ongoing, an unfolding saga which we shall continue to comment upon, even if it just means poking a finger in the bleary eyes of those demented terrorists, the Boko Haram. The story behind the conception of the mega school for the Mbororoji Fulani is truly an ennobling one. Governor Kashim Shettima was said to be moved by an encounter he had with them last year when he was inspecting the mega schools under construction along Baga road.
He found that the security men were all Fulani nomads that had probably lost their cattle to cattle rustlers and Boko Haram bandits. They were living in the uncompleted buildings, ekeing out a precarious living, with a number of children of school age who were not attending any school.
The governor was worried that the children were not only out of school but were on the route to inherit their parents’ livelihood to end up as gate boys and girls.
He resolved to cut this vicious cycle of poverty and decided to lead the campaign to have the Mbororojis send their children to school. After weeks of patient persuasion, the parents finally allowed their children to be enrolled.
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The first set of eleven kids were sent to Elkanemi College, an elite private institution in Maiduguri, under sponsorship of the state government. This noble act of the governor spread fast among the community of the Mbororojis and as he made more inspection tours he met more of them and realised that they were a sizeable community that needed to be catered for. One of the mega schools was, therefore, dedicated to their children. This was the school that was commissioned recently by the wife of the President, A’isha Buhari.
Another reader and also a valued contributor to this page, Dr. Saidu Samaila, took up the gauntlet with some perceived cabal in northern and central Borno for the concentration of educational institutions in Maiduguri. He started by paying glowing tributes to the governor for the mega schools and added: “But the devil lies in the details.