Alhaji Murtala Dantoro is the DG Minna Airport City Project and Babanna Free Trade Zone, Niger State. The social entrepreneur, youth development advocate speaks about his life and passion for humanity and other sundry issues. He speaks with ANTHONY ADA ABRAHAM in Abuja.
We understand that you have created a lot of impact in your community. What motivated you?
I will like to thank almighty Allah who used my late father to make me the man I am today. When I completed my primary school in New-Bussa, then it was Kwara state, he took me to Ghana to continue my education. One of my friends had a small NGO in Kumasi, so I got involved in it and since then I loved it. Giving back to the community was it for me. After my senior secondary education I had the opportunity to go to Dublin, Republic of Ireland to further my education. When I got there settled I got myself into an organization called New Communities Partnership. It was all about community development. I was involved in so many activities that brought development to various communities. That motivated me to take a course in community development in university. My first Bsc Hons in University College Dublin was Housing and Community Studies. I told myself that immediately im done with school I am coming back home to render services to my people in Borgu where I come from. Honestly I was skeptical not to involve the media because i didn’t want to distract the intention, I guess I was naïve but my friends kept telling me to let the world know about this at least it will help the NGO to expand its services and create opportunities to partner with other NGOs in the country and outside.
Was your late dad an inspiration to what you doing today?
A hundred percent YES. He made me to realize my purpose in life, it’s all about giving, and development, and growth etc. The Ghana opportunity was the breakthrough for me. Though I must say I was angry with him then but later I realized that he loved me more than I could imagine. You know anytime I do something for the community I will be expecting him to give me all the credit but it was the opposite. The late Emir of Borgu was an Extraordinary Gentleman. He was always looking out for people. He never saved money, he was always giving, he told me that the best feeling in life for him was to give hope to the hopeless. He was always peaceful with his people, he made me believe that as a leader you must let your followers have access to you, you must listen to your people. He encouraged me in so many ways. He was so peaceful with himself, if you see my dad bothered about something, trust me its about his people, the situation of the country. I made the decision that I will give my all to my community, to my country, Nigeria no matter how small.
What was the relationship between the president Muhammadu Buhari and your late dad?
I can only use one sentence to describe their relationship. They were like the flesh and the bone. They were so close. No one could separate them. Their friendship was unconditional. His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari was everything to him. I will use the common Nigerian saying “A brother from another mother”
Since the demise of your dad, has the president contacted you, the offsprings?
Yes. You know the president is very busy. Nigeria is a complicated country. He is like a father to us. I wish we could get to see him. But of course he is very busy, that I understand.
We found out that the people of your community in Borgu Emirate have been calling you to go into politics because of the grass root development you are into. Do you have intention of contesting for a political elected office anytime soon?
Hmmmm… to be honest I love politics. Its very interesting to me. I see politics as an avenue to develop the people. In fact my Masters Degree was International Relations and you know that’s politics. It’s a good thing to participate in politics. The world is political. Im not craving to contest for an elected office. But if im destined to occupy an elected office, I believe it will come by design and I will definitely give it my all. People kept telling me to go into politics because they believe I will represent them perfectly. I told them if they want me and the time is right, God’s willing I will represent them.
Tell us about your NGO
The NGO was registered in 2009 though we have been rendering charitable services to the community before its registration. My friend Mohammed Bashir named the NGO as Youth Initiative for Entrepreneurial, Leadership and Development (YIELD). We concentrate on community building with youths involved. Its all about the youth and the entire communities in Borgu Emirate. We do human capacity building, entrepreneurship programs, where we train people on skill acquisition. From the little we have we contributed some sewing machines to the participants. We partner with co-operatives to help enhance their businesses, in health we buy pharmaceutical drugs and distribute them across the 20 wards in both Agwara and Borgu local government, in education we train students especially senior secondary school students on Transformational Leadership, we distributed work books in various schools, donated school uniforms for those kids that their parents cannot afford the uniforms, we are currently sponsoring some few students in the universities. The NGOs office in New Bussa has 24hrs internet connection and desktop computers, we use them to apply jobs online for those that are looking for jobs and can’t afford or have access to the internet. We help students that cant afford to register NECO/GCE online; we do that for them for free. Sensitization is another thing we do time to time especially on girl child education. So much more and more.
What are your challenges? Your NGO seems to be doing alot.
Well the challenges are numerous but that’s NGO activities for you. Its always about funding. I want to advise that those who have the opportunities to help humanity, they should invest in people, in the marginalized, the less privileged. Its service to God and to humanity. I know there are a lot of people, companies, and organizations in Nigeria and outside that want to invest in people through reputable NGOs. I want to encourage them to do it. There is so much joy in giving. I’m doing it. I don’t have much but trust me I’m giving and I’m so fulfilled. I always have this in mind “why do we keep so much while people are starving, dying, craving for support”. There are people in this country that have so much and don’t even know where to put them, some have so much and in excess, I want to say think about it, there are a lot of people in need of a small percentage of the blessings they have all across the country.
What is your message to Mr. President?
That’s a big question. Well i want to wish His Excellency a speedy recovery. Our prayers are with him. i know the country is very complicated, the country needs him a hundred percent but he should always remember that his health is key. We need him healthy and strong. I hope one day I will get the opportunity to see him. Just to have a chat.
Tell us about your dad…
The late Emir of Borgu, Alhaji (sen) Haliru Dantoro was a disciplinarian. He had this thing in him, this go getter spirit. When he believes in a course nothing can change his mind. That’s why he stood by Mr President. My dad was a legend. He was a true leader. A role model for all. He was special. He was a direction towards development, success and growth. He was always talking about Nigeria. How he wishes to see Nigeria get better. Honestly he was God sent. I’m so proud to be his son. He lives in me. I miss him a lot but that’s a feeling I don’t share with anyone.