It is pathetic to see injustice perpetrated by people who are privileged to be in public service to fellow citizens they are meant to serve. Mr Abbas Tahir Haladu is a physically-challenged young Nigerian who was awarded scholarship by the Bauchi State government. For almost two years, he is yet to be given what is due to him, to continue his studies. GABRIEL EWEPU met with him and he narrated his ordeal.
The world we live has deteriorated to a level where the little crumbs that fall from the master’s table are being cruelly snatched away by those who want the progress of others to rot away. It is unfortunate that, able bodied persons are not considerate about the precarious situation of people with disability as they continue to mete out inhuman treatment to this group of vulnerable people.
Mr Abbas Tahir Haladu is among the population of the physically-challenged, who has a high level of brilliance despite his misfortune. The 20-year-old Haladu was years old when a fire outbreak occurred in his home at Misau, Bauchi State. He was together with his siblings when the unfortunate incident occurred. He was rescued alive but had 80 per cent burn, which affected his face and deformed his fingers. He lost his elder brother in the inferno, while he was rushed to a nearby hospital.
After Haladu was discharged from the hospital, life became a challenge to him as he grappled with the new side of life’s vicissitudes; people were discriminating him, and he was abandoned by his friends because he was no more looking the handsome boy he used to be.
In 1996, despite his predicament he was courageous to rather to school, and continued his primary school education at Sabon-gari Primary School, Misau, and completed it in 2002. It was not easy for him and his family as his father was a poor traffic warden with the Nigeria Police Force, Bauchi State Command. His father, late Mr Tahir Haladu was an Inspector at the Misau Division of the Nigeria Police Force, Bauchi Command, struggled to sponsor eight of his other children.
Haladu got admission in 2002, at Government Comprehensive Day Secondary, Misau, and his father managed to sponsor his secondary with his meagre salary. Haladu completed his secondary education in 2008 and was able to scale through West African Examination Council’s (WAEC) hurdle to obtain the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE). The studious habit he has imbibed made him to pass his Mathematics and English Language with credit, including four other subjects at one sitting.
With a dream of becoming another Bill Gates of his generation, Haladu aspired to become a software engineer. To make his lofty dream come through became a challenge for him and his family as his father’s meagre salary could not fetch him admission into the university. He languished at home for a long time with no helper in sight.
God who watches over such less privileged persons took over his situation and a helper was raised to help Haladu realised his dreams. It was a former Commissioner of Education and Information, Bauchi State, Capt. Muhammad Bala Jibrin, who came to Haladu’s rescue. He was moved with compassion to shape the future and destiny of Haladu as he included his name among other indigent youths in the Bauchi State scholarship scheme. In 2009, Haladu was among those who got admission into some universities at Malaysia to study. The university Haladu got admission was Linton College of East Anglia University Mantin, Malaysia. In 2010, he left the shores of Nigeria to study the course of his dream, Software Engineering for three years.
As time went on, Haladu’s financial challenge became an embarrassment at school as he was no more getting remittance from the Bauchi State Scholarship Board despite his repeated calls. It was difficult for him to eat, neither could he do some job to provide for him, and became indebted with the hope of receiving what was due him from his kinsmen at the Bauchi State Scholarship Board.
He could not feed himself and began to slide into self-pity and depression. Haladu became fed up with the neglect and abandonment as he seems no more to be relevant to the people in charge of the scheme. Haladu thought of the former Commissioner for Education, Capt. Muhammadu Bala Jibrin who had always ensured that they were well taken care of by the government when he was at the helm of affairs at the Bauchi State Ministry of Education.
Haladu said: “As life continued to get tougher for me to survive in the academic environment, despite my continuous calls to the scholarship management board who failed to attend to my problem, I decided to travel back to Nigeria from Malaysia to sort out things physically since they were not responding, and to know what went wrong, because I do not know what actually happened along the line that my remittance for the school expenses was no longer coming.
“Since I came back, I have been going to see them concerning the issue, and until now nothing has come out. In fact, I am very frustrated and depressed. Imagine my physical condition; my stay here in Nigeria is not helping me academically. What pains me most is that my documents are with them, and they know how difficult for somebody like me to cope in a far away country such as Malaysia. I need over $28,000 (Twenty Eight Thousand Dollars) to enable me complete my study. My family is not buoyant to provide this amount of money I need. I am the first born of my father after my elder brother died in the fire outbreak which engulfed our home when I was about three years old, and consequently I became a physically challenged person. I did not allow it to weigh me down, rather I was determined to actualise my dream of becoming a software engineer someday.
“God used a former Bauchi State Hon Commissioner for Education, Capt. Muhammad Bala Jibrin to include my name in the scholarship scheme, and I was jumping and celebrating the lifetime gesture that was to turn around my fortune, and gave me a sense of belonging in a society, as ours is where the physically challenged is relegated to the back burner without human feeling. I am very grateful to him, because it was his compassion on me and my family that made me to know the four walls of a university. He has been at the fore-front about my issue for justice to prevail.”
The situation of Haladu has become a big concern for Capt Jibrin, because he did not want Haladu to be regarded as a public nuisance. Who engages in street begging and social vices to make ends meet. Capt. Jibrin said the boy (Haladu) is a brilliant sharp whose potential cannot be wasted on the streets of Bauchi while begging to fend for himself and his eight siblings.
Jibrin said:” The Ministry of Higher Education, Bauchi State, had special concessions for the physically-challenged persons who are brilliant enough to make university entry requirement with high grades at one sitting. Abbas made six credits including English and Maths at one go.
“Sensing the difficulty Abbas may go through in obtaining admission in a Nigerian university; taking into consideration his father’s limited resources as an Inspector and believing that even if he gets admitted the challenges in today’s campuses in Nigeria are so enormous for Abbas in his condition to handle, recommended Haladu for a foreign scholarship, tenable in Malaysia. He was accepted at Linton College of East Anglia University Mantin, Malaysia. His papers were perfected and his first instalment of allowances and fees were paid. Tickets were purchased and off he left for Malaysia. Three students have so far benefitted while I was in office as Commissioner for, Higher Education and Chairman, Scholarship Board. I have no idea what obtains now.
“To cut the long story short, shortage of funds made it impossible for Haladu to go to school after the first one year. He was heavily indebted to the university and friends. He was losing his sense of self dignity. He chose to return and find ways of getting the scholarship board pay the backlog and possibly enough to see him for the next six months. It was while in Nigeria waiting to get funds to return to school that the bomb blast at the Police Station in Misau killed his father.”
Capt. Jibrin has used his influence to ensure that Haladu gets what was due to him, but to no avail. “I made several attempts to talk to persons I know and I believe can influence the payment of his fees and allowances. I spoke to people in government and to others outside of government to influence some of the operators of the system.
“First I spoke to the Chief of Staff to the governor. He is a friend and even addresses me as ‘yaya’. I took Haladu to the Government House and to the Office of the Chief of Staff. He was very much touched with the sight of Abbas and his hands, as well as the loss of his father. He made attempts at getting to the root of the matter.
I also took him to the Hon. Speaker Bauchi State Assembly, another senior operator in the system. He was so touched that he nearly wept. He gave Abbas N10, 000 (Ten Thousand Naira) and promised helping him out of the quagmire.
I equally took Abbas to the Commissioner of Police, Mr Ikechukwu Ayo Aduba. He gave us audience and invited ACP Admin, simply called Jerome to join the meeting; finally on the advice of Assistant Commissioner of Police (Admin), Mr Aduba declined to have anything to do with it. I told him, this young man is your child. His father was your staff who died on active duty. Yet the two officers told me that it was a civilian matter, and not a police issue. All I wanted him to do was to speak with the governor on compassionate ground to pay this boy’s fees at once so he can return to school. After all the boy has been awarded scholarship and was earlier on paid some money. I was upset and I left his office.
“Moreso, I was annoyed with the ACP, Mr Jerome for the non-chalant attitude he exhibited without an iota of human feeling. Abbas father’s gratuity is yet to be paid despite his service to the country and the unfortunate incident at the police station.”
“A month later, Haladu was paid by the scholarship board the sum of $3,000 (Three Thousand Dollars). This is barely the cost of his air ticket. This is the position of things for Haladu, the eldest of nine siblings of orphans. He is still in Misau and out of school for a whole year now.
It is very difficult to understand why things should be so. In the area where Haladu hails from, a person in his condition was destined to be a beggar. But here is Haladu, against all odds made his papers, got accepted for computer science at a foreign university and awarded scholarship by his state government only for the system to disown him at a very wrong hour. It is very sad. Haladu needs more than ever before to continue his education, so that he can take care of his eight brothers and sisters, and of course his mother.
“I only wish the IGP M D Abubakar, a person I very well know will get to read this. I would have taken a hard copy to him at the Force Headquarters but for the security overzealousness at the gate.
“Capt Jibrin has gone ahead to open an account to raise the sum of $28, 000 (Twenty Eight Thousand Dollars) Haladu needs to become the software engineer. Some good Nigerians suggested that an account should be opened to support Haladu. “I am pleased to inform concerned individuals and corporate organisations that an account with GTB bank has been opened with the following details - Account Name Haladu Abbas Tahir, and Acct No:0114787081, while the bank is bank Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB).”
Abbas Tahir Haladu is really in need for him to continue his study. It will be of great help when this young and vibrant future scientist is pulled out from this quagmire he finds himself. There is nothing too small to help him actualise his lofty dream, and also contribute his quota to national development.