Though there appears to be no end in sight to the attacks and devastation left behind by Boko Haram on homes in Borno State, but there is someone who cares and gives succour to the bereaved, writes Michael Olugbode
The grief showed on their faces. All Afternoon they gathered to be consoled. One woman had chosen the less trodden path. It is to care for the bereaved.
With guns booming and bombs blasting across the city another woman has just lost her husband and a child had become an orphan. But Hajiya Nana Shettima, the wife of Borno State Governor knows this is not the best of time for many a resident of Borno State, especially those in the vulnerable category, the women and children.
So, for every child orphaned and every woman turned widow by the bullet or bomb of the islamic Boko Haram sect or any accident, she says there is a Support for Widows, Orphans and Tsangaya(SWOT), a foundation she created to care for the needy.
This is the lot of Hajiya Nana Shettima, the first lady of Borno state, a state which was once peaceful but where the islamic Boko Haram sect now make people cry. While residents continued to cry over their lost ones to the insurgent of this fundamentalist group, Nana continued to wear her smile of courage, while devising ways to make everyone especially the widows and orphans smile in spite of their losses.
Nana is replacing tears of sorrow with the tears of joy, as her pet project, SWOT takes the centre stage of providing support to the widows, orphans and the less-privileged.
It will be difficult for any of the widows, orphans and less privileged, who met Nana recently to forget too quick her kind gesture and support. It was a day that widows, orphans and other disadvantaged people in Borno would always live to cherish, a day set aside for the official establishment of Hajiya Nana Shettima’s Support for Widows, Orphans and Tsangaya (SWOT) Foundation.
The launching of SWOT sharpens the teeth of what otherwise was minimal but effective intervention of Nana in the lives of the less privileged and the story has since changed as each life feels a touch.
To encourage Tsangaya teachers, SWOT gave out to these special schools one hundred bags of rice, one hundred bags of beans, one hundred gerrycans of cooking oil and a generator set to boost power supply. Similarly, one hundred Keke Napep, one hundred noodle making machines, one hundred sewing machines, one hundred knitting machines and a hundred grinding machines were distributed to beneficiaries in what appears to be the first of several activities upon the establishment of SWOT Foundation.
Children who cut across various background and schools were made to smile when the First Lady early in the year hosted them to a memorable Children’s Day Celebration that is quite unprecedented.
In a like manner, street urchins and ‘Almajiris’ were not left out as Nana ensured that they feel included in a society they live.
One hundred Tsangaya school were given fully stocked First Aid Boxes, double plastic mats (five each) were also given fact as to one hundred Tsangaya schools with treated mosquito nets. Islamiya schools were not left out as five large sized mats were given to each of the forty schools including books and writing materials within Maiduguri and Jere Local Government Areas.
On the 3rd of July, 2012, the First Lady, established Orchards for the growing of fruits and other agricultural produce thereby creating the needed employment for restive youths. The launching of the orchards took place at Dalori Village of Konduga Local Government Area of Borno State. Similar orchards have since then been established in Bama, Magumeri, Damboa and Kaga Local Government Areas.
The orchards grow mango, orange, guava, dates and gum arabic. Nana gave 500 seedlings of each fruits which were distributed to the orchards in each of the five LGAs. She also gave out 50 water pumps and 50 generator sets including one million naira cash donation to the orchards. It is worth mentioning that the kind hearted First Lady made indigent widows the target beneficiaries of the project.
The Molai Leprosarium received 20 bags of rice, 20 bags of sugar, two large tripod cooking pots with other cooking utensils, two dehasking machines and three grinding machines were given to serve as sources of income, the income generation ability of the machines which were given and installed were attested to by beneficiaries.
Back to the 17th of July 2012, when SWOT was officially launched, poverty alleviation materials were distributed to beneficiaries from each of the 27 LGAs of Borno State. The beneficiaries who were mainly widows, orphans and other vulnerable members of the society were given motor cycles, 100 sewing machines to Maiduguri and Jere LGAs, grinding and dehasking machines, knitting machines, generator sets, water pumps and noodle making machines. Also, 50 residents of Wulari and Shuwari wards of Maiduguri Metropolis were given twenty five thousand naira each to enhance their petty businesses.
The first lady with the heart of gold gave the desired assistance to displaced persons affected by the insecurity challenges bedeviling Borno State. Those who benefitted include residents of Lawan Bukar Wards and Kawar Maila Ward, both of Maiduguri Metropolis. One hundred victims were selected from these wards and presented with 100 (25 litres) Gerrycans of cooking oil, 50 kilograms of beans and 50 kilograms rice.
During the pristine observance of fast in the holy month of Ramadan, Nana made people to perform the religious obligation of fasting in pleasure by giving out to the Tsangaya teachers a bag of rice and sugar 100 widows and orphans.
During the celebration of Eid-el-Fitri festival this year, about 200 pieces of wrapper and 150 ‘shada’ materials were given to widows and Tsangaya teachers respectively. The effect of Nana’s magnanimity was felt and attested to by thousands of beneficiaries who received her gifts.
The first lady, during the last Eid-El-Kabir festival made sure smiles were on the faces of widows and Tsangaya teachers in the state as she did not only gave out 100 rams to be slaughtered but donated other foodstuffs and gave out money.
The First Lady also made one Zainab Adamu who was abandoned by her family feel that there could always be a family outside the biological relationship. She brought smile to her face by presenting her with three million naira.
In order to kick polio out of the state, Nana personally challenged spouses of Local Government Chairmen and District Heads to step up efforts in eliminating the crippling disease and other child killer diseases. This she did by an exemplary gesture of personally and physically pushing the National Immunization plus Days Campaign to every nook and cranny of Borno State.
In prioritising health care for the girl-child and women, Nana has endeared herself to the people’s heart because of her frequent visits to the VVF wards and other patients in hospitals. Even medical staffs of the ward were not left out of her generosity as cash donation was made to the management in appreciation of their efforts.
The International Women Day, 2012, did not go unnoticed in Borno State as Nana identified 100 poor and vulnerable women whom she presented with food items, wrappers and two thousand naira each. Also during the day, she selected 50 women achievers to serve as mentors and role models to at least two school girls. On this note, she took the lead by accepting two girls to be under her care and support.
Her love for the poor knows no bound and this informed her action in picking up the medical bill of about 70 patients amounting to nearly 10 million naira both within and outside Borno State. At the national level, she secured motorize wheelchairs, walking sticks and solar powered lightening facilities for the physically challenged persons in the state from Nigeria’s First Lady Dame (Dr.) Patience Jonathan during the special programme on people with disabilities in Abuja.
To many observers, the very first year of Hajiya Nana Shettima’s stewardship in spearheading the cause of maternal and child health, widows, orphans, Tsangaya pupils as well as the poor and vulnerable members of society is a prospective start to a successful ending.