22nd March, 2022
By Chijioke Okoronkwo
The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Abubakar and Gov. Babagana Zulum of Borno, have commended Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for his commitment to education of the vulnerable children in the North-East.
The duo spoke at the fifth anniversary of the North-East Children’s Trust (NECT) School, known as North-East Learning Centre, on Monday in Abuja.
The centre, located in Maiduguri, Borno, is an initiative of the vice president with a view to providing educational and extensive-care support to 10,000 children orphaned or displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East.
Abubakar, who described NECT as an excellent initiative, lauded the vice president and every other person involved in the scheme.
“I will like to thank you, the vice president for your commitment and concern; pursuing such projects not only to start, but being maintained and even marking the fifth anniversary having taken off in April, 2018.
“I will like to thank the Governor of Borno for your total commitment and selfless service to humanity.
“In the last three years, we have been seeing what you are doing; definitely, with your support, this project, NECT is gaining strength and strength; because it is very important for us as religious leaders, you know the importance of taking care of the orphans and the less privileged.
“We want to thank the initiators of this project; and all those who have had a hand one way or the other to see this fifth anniversary of NECT becomes a success.
“It is an excellent initiative,’’ he said.
On his part, Zulum commended the vision of the vice president in establishing NECT in Borno.
According to him, Borno has about 39, 311 orphans; and a total of about 50, 000 widows.
“These are official figures; the unofficial figures are more than this; and therefore, establishing this learning centre, particularly in Maiduguri, will go a long way in reducing the number of out-of-school children in Borno State.
“One very important aspect of this learning centre is that it is critical to development.
“In addition to providing intensive literacy and numeracy to the children, this school also offers strong technical and vocational education to the pupils; it offers strong digital literacy to the students.
“And I think, this is the type of education that we are looking for; because it will make the students to become self-reliant,’’ he said.
In his remarks, Osinbajo, just before cutting the anniversary cake, went down the memory lane and paid tributes to former Governor of Borno, Kashim Shettima, for the role he played in setting up NECT.
He said: “I want to start by saying that when in 2016, I visited Borno, it was in 2016 not 2018; 2018 was when the school was opened.
“It took about a year to build, but our first encounter was in 2016; and we started raising the funds in 2016 and March 2017 and spent almost a year getting the school built. 2018 was when the first children were taken into the school.
“But, I want to say that the then Governor of Borno, Shettima and I visited a number of IDP camps when I visited Borno, and, both of us came to a conclusion that something has to be done.
“Of course, the Borno Government was already doing a lot of work; trying to accommodate the students; trying to build schools and all that.’’
The vice president said the choice land where the school was built was allocated by Shettima.
According to him, Borno has been possibly one of the luckiest states in this country; just going by the leadership that the state has been having.
“Immediately after Shettima, comes Zulum; no state can hope for a better person than Zulum taking over from a dynamic predecessor, Shettima.
“I have been told that about 173 of the children are now in secondary school; even the schools, the buildings of the school, I was in Borno about three weeks ago or so and we went round and saw the school; we met these young men and women who are now in secondary school.
“I think ultimately, service to the people is what our being in government is about; if we are not able to serve the people with everything we have; with all our hearts, then, our role is really quite irrelevant; perhaps, unjustified.
“So, I want to really commend Zulum and of course, his predecessor for the great work they have done,’’ he said.
Osinbajo hailed the board and teachers of the centre for the excellent work they were doing in running the institution; directing policy; directing the plans and purposeful teaching.
Earlier, Jim Ovia, the NECT Board Chairman, also commended the vice president for the initiative, saying that he felt honoured to join in ensuring that the project was successful.
Also, Dr Mariam Masha, the Executive Secretary of NECT, said that the commitment to deliver on the mandate remained very strong.
However, the event attracted the presence of governors, members of the Federal Executive Council, traditional rulers, members of the National Assembly, members of the diplomatic corps, among others.
It also featured cultural dance and showcase of talents in robotics, computer programming, word puzzle, among others by students of the centre.