Shettima & Aisha’s Future Assured: The Antecedents of a Bookworm

 

Kashim Shettima had, from day one of his ascension to power as Borno state Governor in 2011, left nobody in any doubt that education was his number one priority

By Yakubu Ahmed-BK

The appointment of former Borno state Governor Senator Kashim Shettima as Board Chairman of the Maiduguri based Future Assured Academy, a school built by First Lady Aisha Buhari has elicited observers’ interest in the enigma that is Kashim Shettima.

It makes it the more intriguing if the development is viewed from the reality that the First Lady who does not have any prior close affinity with the Senator cannot thus be said to be looking into the antecedents of a Board Chairman for her school based on any yardstick other than pure qualification and capacity.

We therefore take it that the appointment was hinged on Kashim Shettima’s suitability and capacity to add value and help the school achieve its core objectives.

Kashim Shettima had, from day one of his ascension to power as Borno state Governor in 2011, left nobody in any doubt that education was his number one priority. He proved this with the passion and commitment he put into changing the face of education in Borno state and by the time he handed over in 2019, the stellar records of what he did in providing world class infrastructure had proved his bias for the development of education in Borno state.

The boarding mega primary schools he built and the uncompromising manner he pursued the provision of world class teaching materials and well equipped laboratories and libraries attested to his clear cut policy to provide the environment needed to make teaching and learning conducive, reachable and affordable to all sons and daughters of Borno irrespective of class and status.

I wish to, in this write up, draw our attention to one unique and
daring policy which he personally worked on and introduced – a policy which still subsists and which has earned him a classification as a fully detribalised and nationalistic Nigerian whose worldview is to integrate all people irrespective of their position on the societal ladder in Borno state.

Apart from the mega schools which he built across the state, Kashim Shettima also built a special school for the children of Fulanis who are resident in Borno state.
The Aisha Buhari Integrated Fulani School, situated in the high brow new GRA in the state capital was built in 2017 and was dedicated exclusively to the forgotten children of the Fulani who are mostly engaged as watchmen (Maigadi) in houses, building sites and schools.

The Bororo stock of the Fulani whose number kept increasing in the state and who kept on reproducing children stood the risk of becoming serious security risk for the state if the usually ‘’hot tempered’’ boys are left to grow up in illiteracy, hunger and societal ostracization. The objective was therefore to provide them a special school with special care in order for them to grow up as responsible citizens and to ward off the tendency for them to want to visit their anger on the people.

The school has a total of 525 pupils – all of them Bororo and Fulani boys and girls who, hitherto, have not dreamt of ever seeing the four walls of a classroom, not to talk of ever hoping for a better future. The objective and plan was to provide both Islamic and western education to them and the state government hired consultants under special arrangements to ensure strict compliance with the special methodology to achieve targeted results.

The idea again, was to break the intergenerational and jinxed history of the Bororo to have no work other than security guards where ever they find themselves. In addition, the Fulanis have become the bout of victimization and stereotyping in such a way that they are seen as dregs of the society and therefore very low class.
This tendency also produces a group of people that have been angered to see their host communities as overbearing, contemptuous and unwelcoming such that they see themselves as continually uncared for and unwanted.

Thirdly, the work they do which is keeping watch over properties and buildings are gradually going out of passion as close circuit TV cameras begin to make aggressive inroads thereby threatening the preferred job of the Bororo/Fulani.

It is vital to state here that although the Bororo and their nomadic Fulani cousins are known for their cattle rearing, the shortage of pasture, desert encroachment, urbanization and rustling have combined to render many Fulanis cattleless and thus jobless. They therefore move into cities and towns in West Africa looking for how to survive. Their notoriety and stickler for fearlessness, bravery and sincerity made them good for security jobs and they are preferred to secure our houses and properties.

We must accept the fact that their nomadic lifestyle has been altered and their coming into cities to eke out living is near permanent. Any development plan must therefore take them into account if we truly desire to build secure and economically vibrant societies.

It is in this context that we should locate Kashim Shettima’s vision and why he expended such huge amount to give the Fulanis a sense of belonging. He did not just build a school for them but ensured that three buses were provided to take the pupils to and from school and provided both breakfast and lunch for them. He also, made provision for their parents to, during holidays, be given a bag of rice, a carton of spaghetti and cooking oil each to ensure that they stay fed and to continue to allow their children to remain in school.
Any wonder, that the current Governor Professor Babagana Umara Zulum – a teacher himself has not only sustained the policy but has come up with additional commitment and ideas to raise the bar and ensure that education is for all children in Borno?

Any wonder, again, that the First Lady Aisha Buhari found no one, other than Kashim Shettima eminently suitable to, not just add value going by his historical antecedents and connection with educational development, but to provide the desired leadership to achieve set objectives?