No doubt, our leaders represent some of the worst set of humans on earth—heartless, cruel, and visionless. No amount of whitewashing can absolve them from being responsible for the sorry situation we are in. Nonetheless, I still believe our situation is not irredeemable and we can do a lot in lessening the pangs of poverty, ignorance and despondency that have overwhelmed us. We are not helpless. We can, within our own small world, turn on the small light in a dark room; this has been demonstrated in my small world. Below I will narrate how it was done and why you, too, can do it.
In 1998, when Dr. Tilde moved back to his ancestral land (Tilden Fulani), a group of young folks visited him and asked for a helping hand to secure employment for them. He thought they were graduates until they brought their credentials. He was incredulous when he discovered that they were just finishing secondary school, even at that, with poor results. He first advised that they should continue with their studies instead of looking for jobs. It later dawned on him that they had no business going to the university with such poor results. He recruited teachers and organized night classes for them. Fast forward to 2019, there is no group as successful as beneficiaries of those night classes in Tilden Fulani. They are scattered all over the Nigerian landscape.
Overwhelmed by the enormous challenges present in the then only public primary school in Tilden Fulani, instead of doing nothing, he (Dr. Tilde) liaised with the authority to select the best pupils from different classes and assembled them in one class tagged “Special Class”. Pupils from that class were given special treatment through the provision of books, teaching aids and extra lessons. As far as my memory can go, none from that class (male or female) is not successful today.
Not yet satisfied with such interventions, in the year 2000, he established a private (more of a charity) primary school, Millennium Academy. He recruited its first headmaster, Mr. Trevor Herfeld, all the way from England! Not only that, he also built standard quarters for his staff and supported the activities of the school. And, glory to Almighty Allah, the school was (and still) a huge success. It has transformed our village into a small hub of skilled manpower and human capital in almost every field of endeavour.
From the ashes of that school that Dr. Tilde helped create, today, Tilden Fulani, a village of about 20,000 people, has over 15 public and private secondary schools. Let’s not delve into the number of primary schools. We equally have community-based College of Education where most of its teachers were beneficiaries of his intervention.
Again, in his (Dr. Tilde’s) database, there are over 1500 university students dispersed all over the country from Tilden Fulani, as of June 2018. Most of these students are directly or indirectly beneficiaries of his educational interventions. An interesting fact about Dr. Tilde is that he worked in the public sector for only a period of ten years (1982 – 1992) before he resigned to private practice. This fact should disabuse the mind of any person who might suspect that he made his money from government coffers or patronage.
I am saying this because many might say, “well, he is sourcing the money from the government’s coffers and so no wonder”. No! While he might have gotten some money from the so-called government, but what he did (and is doing) is too much for someone who worked with the government for barely ten years. Besides, how many people are earning much more? How many of them go the Dr. Tilde’s way? This may suggest that serving and making an impact don’t require money alone; one must be determined and willing to change things.
I believe every one of us sees the challenges his community is facing, from poor educational background for kids and even adults to utter joblessness that strangle many to despair. We are the people and we see what goes on and the challenges facing us. It’s not enough to come online and start lamenting that the government is not doing anything [Does the government even care?]. We can all start what we think should be done, no matter how little. The little effort we downplay is all that matters to lay the foundation of greater things to come.
I am not trying to absolve the government from the responsibility of providing quality education, job creation, security and what have you. Unfortunately, and most disappointedly, the government is virtually doing nothing. It does not even care. In such a situation, should we just fold our hands and leave everything to face and historical accident? Is there nothing we can do with the little nature bequeathed us? No doubt, meaningful societal change requires not just the patchwork of few individuals on the ground but stronger policies and governmental actions as well. But is this a valid excuse to be passive, inactive and nonchalant?
We are not helpless, and our situation is certainly not hopeless. We can do better, nay, we MUST do better. We can all be like Dr. Tilde and even surpass him in our different ways. Remember, change begins with me and you. The North is in trouble, and only we can rectify our issues. Let’s all be Tildes.