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How Shettima ‘herded’ nomadic Fulani children to school

For the Nomadic Fulani, modern education acquired in the formal school setting, has no bearing at all on how and where his life should start…

For the Nomadic Fulani, modern education acquired in the formal school setting, has no bearing at all on how and where his life should start and end. He seems content with this situation; he loathes to, by whatever means, enlist in the acquisition of such features of modern-day civilization as western education in the formal school setting. And most societal leaders and governors seemed to have condemned him to his frozen life.

Monday, 2nd October, 2017, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State encountered some of such Nomadic Fulani, who have by whatever means, lost their cattle, and have settled to their second choice of living: occupying constructions sites and uncompleted public buildings as ‘security guards’, their families undertaking inconsequential trades to eke out a living.

Resolving to suffer the pains of ‘changing’ their lives by encouraging them to cooperate with him to liberate them and transit them into modern civilization by first enrolling their children in formal education schools. 

The governor was on inspection of one of the mega schools under construction for the over 70,000 children orphaned by the Boko Haram insurgency. It was at Baga Road, Maiduguri metropolis.

Between last Monday and reporting time, Borno State government was already fashioning out a programme of proper education for the children of these nomadic Fulani, whether in the wilderness rearing their cattle or domiciling in communities as ‘security guards’ in construction sites and uncompleted buildings. They are, in due course, to be absorbed in the orphaned-children mega schools, and other public and private schools across the state, however and wherever they domicile.

Daily Trust visited the first set of eleven Nomadic Fulani children ‘caught’ by Governor Shettima, and now learning in a separate class specially opened for them at the primary school section of the privately owned El-Kanemi College, Maiduguri.

“I was rearing cattle before; but since the time I was brought to school on Tuesday, I like it; I want to continue coming to schools,” Adamu Nura, one of them, who hails from Benisheik, Kaga Local Government Area, confessed. He said he preferred attending school to cattle rearing because “I will be educated at school; when I get educated, I want to be a police man.” He did not give any reason for his choice.

Musa abdullahi, 10, hailed from Mainok, also in Kaga Local Government Area. “I was attending an Islamiyya school before; I was not rearing cattle; my parents have stopped cattle rearing; so we relocated to Maiduguri; I prefer attending school to the nomadic life; when I am educated, I want to become the governor of Borno State,” he said. 

The parents of Ciroma Maina, 11, crossed the border with him from Diffa, neighbouring Niger Republic. They settled at Kukawa, before foraying to Maiduguri. He was enrolled into El-Kanemi, Thursday, 5th October. “I cannot say whether I like school or not; let me first try the school life and assess; if I don’t like it, I will discontinue; but if I get educated, I want to become the President of the Nigeria,” ‘President Ciroma Maina’ then stopped talking to his citizen.

Aisha Mohammed Hassan is 13. She was also enrolled on Thursday. “I was attending Islamiyya at Shuwari before; attending school is very interesting because of the education I will acquire; when I am educated I want to become the Minister of Education of Nigeria,” she said.

Maina Bukar is one of the parents of the enrolled nomadic children. These parents accompanied their children to the school and remained there outside the classroom, ‘keeping vigil’ over the children, up to the closing hours to ensure that Governor Shettima and the school teachers were not up to any pranks over their children. “I allowed my child (Muhammadu, 10) to be enrolled because the world has gone awry; the world has spoilt; no more cattle; rustlers have deprived of rearing cattle; this is why I say the world has spoilt.

“So, since there are no more cattle, he (his son) has to attend school to be properly educated; then we will leave the bush and settle in town; we had cattle before, but they have all finished,” Maina, who hailed from the vicinities of Kukawa, said.

“Governo Shettima is used to undertaking weekly inspection of the mega schools under construction,” Yusuf Shettima, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Social Media, the Protem Coordinator of the Nomadic Children Education Programme, explained, continuing, “So, last Monday we were at the one along Baga Road; on sighting him, these nomadic Fulani who have been occupying the uncompleted buildings there, jubilantly converged to welcome him, and he, therefore, seized that opportunity to draw their attention to the need to enroll their children in school.

“The Governor wants to rescue them from their age-old impoverishment cause by their refusal to enroll their children in school; he wants to rescue them from their entrapment in the life of guarding uncompleted buildings, which is their only main occupation; he wants to integrate them into the civilized life of their fellow Nigerians.

“That formed the significant start of this nascent Nomadic Children Education Programme.

“So, satisfied with the required impact of his persuasion, the Governor, on the first day, which is Tuesday, directed me to take the first set of the children and enroll them in school; Im first enrolled them in Government Primary and Junior Secondary School, Jajere here in the metropolis, with the enticement of a bicycle to be bought for any child who agreed to be enrolled; we, therefore bought them the bicycles, and even gave money for their uniforms and other immediately required items.

“When I reported to him in the evening, he directed me to transfer them to El-Kanemi here, because additional classroom blocks for the about 5,000 pupils of the Jajere school are still under construction; but at El-Kanemi they will be gathered in one class for special education, and they will also learn Arabic and Islamic Religion as added advantage; this is why I transferred them here; and as you can see, they are in their own special class.

“As time goes on, their number will increase from the initial 11, because we have encountered more of them in other places, but their fathers would not allow us to take them along with us for enrollment until they consult with their mothers; but many of such parents have given us their word; so we expect to gather between 20 and 30 more of such children between now and next Tuesday (10th October).

“In all the schools he goes on inspection, the guards there are nomadic Fulani called Bororo; and he has promised to get their children enrolled in schools; they have these children, but they loath enrolling them in schools.

“This is just the pilot scheme of the programme; when we assess the progress of the scheme at a stage, we will then come to a drawing table for a broader and proper fine-tuning and planning of the programme with regard to how it will prosper for the achievement of the set goal where the nomadic Fulani domicile all over the state.

“We will pay their school fees as promised by the governor; for these initial 11, the fees we will pay for two years is in the region of N800, 000; but whatever is the amount, the governor has promised to pay; whatever number we enroll in future, the governor has promised to pay two years fees for a start; whatever their number, the state government will sponsor their primary and secondary education,” the programme coordinator said. 


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