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A Patriot’s mesmerizing ripples

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

President Muhammadu Buhari


By Idowu Omisore

I have been privileged to travel to a couple of countries, some in real life and others in my dreams. Out of the 195 countries in the world today,  I seriously doubt if there is another country, aside from Nigeria, whose government and citizens urgently need to arise to do things differently. This piece is not about the sad appraisal we received about the country as having the highest number of the poorest people in the world, displacing India, as recently reported by Brookings Institution. Who doesn’t know the enormity of this disturbingly ridiculous statistics? How can a very rich country have very poor citizens? I’ve always felt that Nigeria is more of a conundrum than a country. No thanks to the enormous scale of corruption! Corruption and its egregious effects are ubiquitous. Being the world’s most populous black nation, we have our peculiar share of problems just like every other country. Patriotism is at its lowest ebb, frighteningly among the youths who should be the ones fervently seeking to change the narrative. The highly skilled amongst them are seeking to travel overseas for opportunities they believe are nonexistent here. Who then will build this nation? For the most part, those at the helm of affairs are too focused on how they will elongate their stay in office than on how the quality of life of the electorate will be markedly improved.

When it comes to nation building, this writer does not believe the ‘government’ alone should be blamed. Citizens, individually, have a role to play to resolve our teeming problems. True patriots are scarce, as such; it is always refreshing when one comes across one especially amongst the young. Patriots hardly give up on their country and constantly look for ways to make a difference and solve problems instead of just complaining. Such a one is Kehinde Khadijat Kadiri (KKK), the Executive Director of The Grassroots Aid Initiative (TGAI), a nongovernmental organization that has been touching lives, reducing poverty and putting smiles on the faces of people at the grassroots since its establishment. I’ve known KKK for about 16 years now. We met at the Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos and got on very well. What I didn’t know about her is her deep resolve to ferociously tackle poverty at the grassroots and increase their living standards. After her postgraduate education in Ghana and Malaysia, she came back to the country and making contributions in the academia. Aside from teaching, KKK began to instill patriotism in her students who presently form the bulk of her team. She carefully blended her photography skills with her humanitarian pursuits, taking shots and posting on social media platforms pictures of scenes and situations begging for attention in rural areas. Her team’s posts and advocacy messages have been attracting funds locally and internationally for its interventions. TGAI Team has been engaged in projects that touch the lives of people in rural areas. It is noteworthy that women have benefited greatly from the NGO’s outreaches. It started off with a malaria sensitization programme and the complete renovation of an elderly woman’s dilapidated house in Ago-Oja village, Kwara State. I picked interest in the transformation she and her team brought to bear. ‘Mama Ikirun’ was over the moon when her refurbished house was handed over to her.

In October 2017, TGAI Team successfully executed #buildingdreams project. Scholarships were presented to indigent pupils in Moro Local Government. The scholarship covered school fees, school uniforms, school bags, socks, exercise books, pencils, erasers, rulers, mathematical sets, sharpeners, crayons, textbooks, e.t.c. The peak of the scholarship drive was the lifetime scholarship given to a set of twins (Habeebah and Habeeb). Last year December, the life-changing team made the yuletide memorable for the widows and children in Ara Village, Kwara State, Nigeria. Items and edibles shared to about 500 people under the #100widowsandkids project include yam tubers, bags of rice, packs of sugar, cartons of tomato puree, packs of sphagetti, cartions of groundnut oil, bathing soaps, bags of semovita, washing soaps, bags of garri, bags of salt, cartons of noodles, packs of kiddies’ drinks, bags of clothes, exercise books and other donated items.

Upon discovering that Asileke Village, Oyo State in the southwestern part of the country, had no clean and safe source of water, TGAI started posting pictures of the plight of the people. Funds poured in, although it took a while, and today, a water borehole system has been provided for the community. TGAI Team was recently at the Jalala Junior Secondary School, within the precincts of the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), with a parade of seasoned speakers on drug abuse. During the course of the event, scholarships were given to 12 students. Aside from the laudable projects, the high level of accountability demonstrated by KKK is worth emulating.

I know all these efforts might look less phenomenal to someone out there particularly because KKK and her team have not yet made an impact nationally or won award(s) from an international body. What matters more for this writer is that we have still have young Nigerians who have not given up on their country and who are striving to make a difference wherever they find themselves, causing mesmerizing ripples. Equally important is the need to encourage these young patriots to do more and that is what this piece is all about.

KKK may not yet be in the transcendent class of Mother Theresa, Mary Slessor and many other men and women that have transformed the world through humanitarian activities, but she undeniably possesses the same traits with them. Like Martin Luther King, she has a dream…that one day the young and old at the grassroots will rise above poverty, having access to necessities: food, water, housing, education, health facilities and opportunities to reach their full potential. The Grassroots Aid Initiative (TGAI), formerly known as The Healthbuilders Initiative, is ever committed to the holistic development of people in the rural areas.

Bottom-line: each of us can make a difference. We can bring down the level of poverty. We can help the needy within our space. Even with the little resources you have, you can still take out something for charity. Poverty has deadly offspring notably, hunger, avoidable deaths, crime, terrorism and colossal waste of human potential. The government needs to rethink its poverty alleviation strategies and maximize the huge resources it has been entrusted with. The elections are around the corner, another time for all Nigerians within the voting age to either reinforce the status quo or bring in new leaders they can trust. With all the human and mineral resources we have been endowed with as a nation, Nigeria and poverty ought to be like two parallel lines that can never meet.

Idowu Omisore writes from Lagos.

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