In a bid to meet up with the target of the federal government for Education For All come 2015, NGOs have been springing up to contribute their quota in the attainment of Universal Basic Education. One of such is the Ilimun Wal Hikma Islamic Foundation by Amb (Haj) Gimbiya Hannatu Nga. In this exclusive interview with Kuni Tyessi, she speaks about the need for basic education in the Nigerian society.
What is your driving force as far as this foundation is concerned?
The driving force behind the foundation stems from my love for women, children and the less privilege as well as the down trodden and the desire I have for girl-child education and adult literacy in women which will in turn empower them in future. I fell touched when I see women on the streets, especially the ones who are not happy with what they are doing and want a change. I feel touched when they are divorced and left to fend for themselves. I see it as woman abuse.
One of the objectives of your foundation is to educate the vulnerable especially women in pudah. How do you hope to achieve it?
That was then. Women are now coming out. However, today the story has changed, because women have realized that they cannot just sit idle and expect the men to provide all that they need. The little children who are around them and crying for various needs are enough to challenge them to go out and start something for optimal results. So women are coming out and challenging the status quo and as an individual, I have put it upon myself to be of immense support, hence the foundation which is to educate and enlighten.
You hope to create awareness to street hawkers and the debased within the FCT. How possible can that be when an embargo has been placed on street hawking and the like?
That is why the foundation was established. Having seen the children, we bring them together to re-orientate them that hawking is not the best way of life, and that with education they can attain milestones.
They can’t be hawking when their mates are in school. So we have decided to reach out to them in order to discover the challenges that have prevented them from going to school so that we can enroll them into our school where we teach them. We have instructors that educate them, and from there we go to their parents because some of them claim that their parents and guardians serve as stumbling blocks due to financial challenges and some cultural beliefs. The ones we have enrolled have been given scholarships to help their educational pursuit. For some, after school hours, they come to the palace where we lecture them because we have teachers that teach them basic mathematics, English and general knowledge.
The name of your foundation is laced with Islamic words. Does that mean it is purely Islamic and attends to only members of the faith?
The foundation is open for all, irrespective of religious beliefs and creeds. There is no restriction of any kind.
What are some of your challenges and how can the government come in?
Starting an NGO is not something easy especially when personal funds are involved. It has not been easy. We have over 360 children that we teach and we have teachers that we pay. We also have women numbering about 50.We don’t just teach them English and Mathematics, but skills acquisition as well. We have sewing and knitting machines. All these are given to them from personal pockets.
Having done this, we believe that government can be of assistance so that the dream and zeal can keep running. With government’s assistance in terms of providing mobility, machines after graduation, materials for learning, structure, a conducive environment for learning, a structure where we can have different rooms for different skills acquisition, provision of land and computers, we will appreciate.
It’s believed that many people set up foundations because they want to extort money from the government and individuals. Is yours such a foundation, and what is the proof?
Setting up a foundation is driven out of passion to help the less privilege and people who have challenges of achieving certain goals in life. Only people without integrity will set up NGOs just to get money from the government. We preach integrity in NGOs. If you have passion with the fear of God, you will not use the fund given to you to assist the less privilege as if it were yours. People who do so have the wrath of God to face and I crave the indulgence of such people to desist from such acts.
If you were a lawmaker, what penalty would you subscribe to perpetrators?
It’s a criminal act and immediately such is discovered, the perpetrators should be made to face the law as enshrined in the constitution. There should be no sacred cows. Such acts must be stopped immediately.
The FG is planning to achieve education for all by 2015.So far in your campaign. do you see it as possible?
Yes it is. If everyone can have the kind of drive that we have, and put up something like this, which is to give basic education to women and children, I am sure before 2015, we must have gone a long way. Once we are determined and the people to implement it, it would help the government. If the government will also provide the means of achieving it, nothing will be difficult.
How qualified are the teachers who are employed by your foundation?
They are well read. Most of them are graduates. The least has an OND certificate.
Are they paid the subscribed 18,000 minimum wage?
For now, the teachers are taking it upon themselves to sacrifice to this noble cause. Most of them are graduates without jobs. When they came to me and I told them about my call and financial plight, they were happy to join me. The little I have, I give to them and they bear with me. I appreciate them because what they are doing is borne out of sacrifice.
Besides, we are not limited to only Garki but the whole of FCT.I have registered with NMEC and they have picked interest in what I’m doing. They always give me a facilitator to take care of the women I have brought together for mass literacy.
We have bought sewing machines and have given to the women because they graduate with certificates, and machines will be needed for them to practise what they have been taught.
Many have asked me for where I get funding and I keep telling them that it is God and the support I get from my husband. With the little that we have, if the government can give a helping hand, I believe we will do much more. So far, many have come to inspect us in order to see what we are doing. Already, UBE has provided us with four classes so that we can start managing before the big one comes.
No foundation will want to start and remain the same. I will want to see this foundation in all the 36 states of the federation, including the local government areas of those states in order to teach women and children and change their lives for the better. We believe that, with God , all things are possible.