He has been called the ‘King of JAMB’ and Borno State success story in spite of the negative reports on years of human destruction and loss of property due to the insurgency war that has weighed down the state. 17-year-old Galadima Israel Zakari, of Biu local government area of Borno State, who conquered all odds to emerge candidate with the highest score in the 2018 Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examinations, has indeed made his state proud. FRANCIS OKOYE (Maiduguri) reports
With a total score of 364 to beat over 1.3 million candidates, 17-year-old Galadima Israel Zakari has given hope to the youths of Borno State wherever they are that the narratives on Borno can be changed.
Borno has become popular in the past nine years for the ugly tales of horror inflicted on its people by the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists who at will killed, maimed the people, destroy and burnt down their property.
The circles of destruction in the state, no doubt, brought upon the people poverty, despair and uncertainty in the communities ravaged by continuous attacks and counter measures by the authorities to save lives and property.
With these incidences, Borno State rings in the ears of people outside the state as a land of destruction, killings, displacement and starvation among others.
But that narrative is changing for a more positive story much to the delight of the people and friends of Borno, thanks to Galadima Israel Zakari, a son of Biu local government area of Borno State, who against all odds emerged candidate with the highest score in the 2018 Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examinations, with a total score of 364 out of 400 maximum mark to beat over 1.3 million candidates that wrote the examination nationwide.
This feat has not only demonstrated the resilience nature of Borno citizens in time of adversity, but goes to show how adversity strengthens individuals to excel where others fail.
Before the examination, the young Israel who lost his father, a Major in the Nigerian Army in 2004 was not weighed down by the challenges of being raised by a single mother and trauma of the deceased father, but faced his studies with a great deal of dedication that has paid off today.
Israel again, distinguished himself amongst his peers and classmates at the Faith Academy Canaan land, in Otta, Ogun State to depict to the world that apart from the terrorism the state has been associated with, besides the psychological trauma every citizen of the state has faced for the negative story of his homeland, better story could be told about his people.
Thus, when JAMB through its head of media, Dr Fabian Benjamin, in a statement announced that the top scorer in the examination that involved more than 1.3 million candidates is Galadima Israel Zakari from Biu, in Borno State, who sat for the examination in Ogun, as the candidate with the highest score, both government and people of Borno State received the news with wild jubilation.
The jubilation was followed by an action from the Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima who immediately ordered his aides to search for the 2018 JAMB hero and the parents and invite them for a ceremony at the government house in Maiduguri.
With this order, the aides were able to locate Galadima Israel Zakari and his mother, Jumai Galadima with an invitation to the Borno State Government House, Maiduguri.
One remarkable feature of the Galadima family that portrayed them simple was their dress code to the Government House ceremony. Why it was expected for them to come with very gorgeous attire, the family came with simple casual dresses indicating that as a single mother, she was more interested in the education of her children than flashy life style even though she works with a bank.
Another event that stole the heart of Governor Kashim Shettima by the Galadima family is honesty. Honesty in the sense that unlike many Nigerians, after Shettima was informed that Israel has been granted admission by Covenant University Otta, and sought about the fees, the mother, Jumai never inflated the amount, but told the governor the right amount, unknown to her that the governor has already made an enquiry to that effect.
Even though Israel sat for the examination in faraway Ogun State outside his home State of Borno, celebrating his success will go a long way to encourage Borno youths to embrace education as way to better life, rather than indulging in acts that ruin their future.
Celebrating him will equally encourage others who are in various schools home or abroad to understand that despite the negative narrative the Boko Haram insurgency has put the state in the view of the world, with their efforts and successes, they can positively change the narrative that Borno is not all about terrorism, but intelligent people.
For these reasons in hosting Israel and the mother at Government House in Maiduguri, Governor Shettima who could not hide his joy over the success story even opted for the young Israel to sit beside him at the Council Chamber describing him as “Borno success story and King of JAMB”.
While hailing the mother, Jumai Galadima as “the mother of the 2018 King of JAMB”, Shettima congratulated the family for making it against all odds, as well as making Borno proud in the public domain.
The governor went ahead to announce the offer of scholarship to Israel to study Electrical/Electronic Engineering at the Covenant University with the sum of N5 million covering tuition fees, accommodation, feeding and other sundry expenses during the duration of his studies in the university.
Shettima regretted that the event is taking place when his administration is ending, saying that if not the want of time, he would have sponsored the boy to study either in America or Britain, adding that he is of the belief that whoever that is taking over from him will not abandon Israel the pride of Borno, in his further studies after the first degree.
He said, “I feel highly honoured to play host to our potential Isaac Newton of Borno and Nigeria and of the black race. We are proud of this young man, raised by a single mother. A son of Borno and a son of Boko Haram ravaged Borno State who made it against all odds.
“As rightly said by the mother, where there is a will, there is always a way. Adversity should not knock us down, rather adversity should bring out the best in us.
“We have to identify with this young man. We have to identify with this family fundamentally for two reasons. We should avoid the tyranny of the majority. I am a Kanuri and a Muslim, this young man is a Bura and a Christian, but he is a son of Borno.
“We should have the generosity of spirit, the courage and magnanimity. I am an advocate of tolerance and accommodation. This is why we invited this young man. Let us come and celebrate this young man, a symbol of excellence, a symbol of resilience. Incidentally, the young man has secured admission into Covenant University. I want to pay five years scholarship for him to study there. I am absolutely certain that whoever takes over mantle of leadership from me will take over the education of this young man. I am giving out N5 million for cost of tuition fees, books and others so that the mind of the mother will be at rest,” Shettima added.
Continuing the governor said: “Borno is not all about destruction, Borno is about producing best JAMB scorer. I wish you all the best. We are one people with common destiny, irrespective of tribal or religious differences.”
Responding to the honour done to her family by Governor Shettima, the mother of the 2018 King of JAMB, Jumai Galadima, said when she got the invitation, she never expected so much, but the governor exceeded her expectations.
“I was a product of free education in Borno State several years ago because my parents could not afford to send me to federal school, but Borno government did it for me then,” she said. “And today I am receiving the same gesture from Borno government. I want to say thank you! Thank you! Borno state.
“We have many other Israels scattered everywhere in Borno state. With this, I know a lot of children will be encouraged to embrace education and repeat what Israel has achieved.”
She narrated before the gathering how she graduated from the University of Maiduguri in 1999 with Second Class Upper in Agric Economics before moving to Lagos where she joined her husband, a military man who unfortunately passed on in 2004 as a Major leaving her with three children.
“Israel is my second child, I have Joshua and Ezra. Since 2004, up to this date, I have been the one taking care of them all alone. I am so grateful for this burden that has been lifted off my shoulder.
“I want to encourage every child in Borno State that the sky is our limit, and every average northerner is intelligent in every endeavor.” Mrs Galadima noted.
Also speaking, the hero, Galadima Israel Zakari said smartness and hard work with extensive reading made him what he is today.
“I read a lot, I knew I was going to do well, but not up to this feat,” he said. “My family and I are very excited and grateful for the honour done to us by the Borno State government.
“I was dumbfounded when I got here and the governor announced the scholarship. I didn’t expect this much, but his Excellency the Governor of Borno State beat my expectation. I thank him very much. As for my youth of Borno and students, they should read very well. I thank the teachers and students of Faith Academy Canaan land in Otta, Ogun State for being there for me.”
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