The Day Senator Mustapha Empowered Youths

The Day Senator Mustapha Empowered Youths

In the words of renowned inspirational author, Shannon L. Alder, “Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” Perhaps, the above words of wisdom were behind the unprecedented showers of love experienced by the people of the Niger South Senatorial District of Niger State, when Senator Mustapha Sanni Muhammed visited them recently.

The atmosphere was filled with much laughter and rejoicing, as youths in their hundreds were handed items with which to re-write their life stories. Oblivious of what was about to happen, they gathered at Katcha, Lapai and Mokwa local government areas of the state – the various locations of the empowerment programme –  and waited patiently for the commencement of the event. The various items neatly arranged before them may have given the curious crowd a hint though.

And then came the hour for the beneficiaries to be presented with items ranging from cars, automated tricycles and motorcycles, to refrigerators and more.  The grand gesture was indeed testament to the fact that here was a man who has the welfare of his people at heart. Men, women – both young and old – and children came out in their numbers to witness the historic event. Among the beneficiaries of Volkswagen Golf cars at Mokwa local government area was Mohammed Danladi Mohammed, whose joy was so intense that all he could mutter was, “I’m overwhelmed.”

It was the breath of a new beginning for the youths in these communities. Present at the venues, among other highly esteemed dignitaries, were Nda Lelle Mokwa, Bimma Enagi, Ezonuwan Kutigi, Sheshi of Katcha and HRH the Emir of Lapai, Alh. Umar Bago Tafida.

Day In the Life Of A Street Hawker

Day In the Life Of A Street Hawker

“Sometimes, there’s not a better way. Sometimes, there’s only the hard way.”

No child dreams of becoming a traffic hawker. It is the uttermost horror of every parent who knows what education is, but, today, here they are, boys and girls, trying to eke out a living by hawking in traffic.

Traffic hawkers are everywhere; New Delhi, New York, Accra, Lagos, Abuja, virtually, all over the world. We see them daily and we patronise them almost unconsciously.

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), as at 2012, the number of working children under the age of 14 in Nigeria was estimated at 17 million (still of children engaging in menial jobs). Of this figure, more than half have never been to school. The other percentage drop out of school to chase a living.

Where do they come from? Where do they live? How did they get here? How did we end up with such huge numbers of children and teens hawking on our streets?

This is the story of 15-year-old *Kolo Nasiru, who earns his living trying to sell tins of milk to commuters along the Kubwa-Zuba Expressway and *Obinna Njoku, 18, who sells throat lozenges to commuters who have sore throat along the Nyanya-Keffi Expressway.

Obinna left his village two years ago, to come stay with his uncle, who promised to find get him something doing in the city. Like many before him, he found out that it was far more difficult to get a job than to promise someone one.

“After sometime, I saw that he was not interested in helping me. I decided to start selling these sweets, because I need to do something for myself. I cannot depend on him for everything; I have to get myself something too,” Obinna said.

Many drop out of school to chase a living on the streets, because of a lack of fees. In Njoku’s case, he dropped out of school, because he didn’t believe all the answers laid there.

Nasiru still lives with his parents and still goes to school, but the family’s economic conditions thrust him into the streets. Of all things, why did he opt for traffic hawking?

“I see my parents every day and my younger ones. I know that we need the money. I save some from what I make every day. From the one I save, we can eat, travel and pay the fees,” disclosed Nasiru.

For Nasiru, selling tins of milk in traffic gives him an edge.

“I use the money to buy books and other things I need for school. I don’t enjoy it, but, I have to go to school. School is good for me, so I need to go to school,” he said.

“Not everyone who goes to school comes out and get a job,” Njoku countered. “Some people also do good in business. I am better than someone who has gone to school and has nothing to do to make money, no matter how small.”

Though he makes as much as N2000 on a great day [and N500 on far worse days], he does not think that is enough for him to get ahead in life.

So, when does he take a break if he is so busy chasing commuters to but his goods?

“The traffic does not last from morning till night. Sometime, it is much and other times it is not. When it reduces, I eat some chin-chin or sausage roll with water and I am okay. I don’t have money to go to ‘mama-put’”

Sometimes, the men of the task force of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) come at them with everything they have, chasing them down and impounding their goods.

“There’s just one thing we do; we run. But they do not come all the time.”

Sadly, this hasn’t made Njoku’s life easier.

“Sometimes, it rains so hard and I do not make enough, so I sleep under the bridge. I do not fear, because I am not the only one and, even if I am attacked, I have no money.” He has done this a few times.

While the rest of the world thinks Njoku, Nasiru and their kind are a menace and try to force them to regret their choice of livelihood, they rarely care. They have greater worries…after all, the natural man, according to the good book, “is of a few days, but full of trouble.”

The need to survive, for them, is greater than their care of public’s perception.

*These are not their real names.

Author: K. Jubal

Photo Credit:  Nnaemeka Onwumere

The Day Senator Mustapha Empowered Youths

In the words of renowned inspirational author, Shannon L. Alder, “Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”
Perhaps, the above words of wisdom was behind the unprecedented showers of love witnessed by the people of Niger South Senatorial District of Niger State, when Senator Mustapha Sanni Muhammed visited them recently.
It was an atmosphere filled with so much laughter and rejoicing as youths in their hundreds were handed with items to re-write their stories.
Read full story on our next issue coming out soon…

Tipto: A land where brotherliness is all that matters

Tipto: A land where brotherliness is all that matters


In the words of Norwegian playwright, Henri Ibsen, ‘A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm.’ And just like Ibsen’s description, Tipto represents brotherliness, unity, cohabitation and community in the true sense of it.

Located in Lamurde local government of Adamawa State, Tipto, predominantly dominated by Fulani, Chibo and Hausa tribes is exquisitely beautified with mountains, vegetation, and a river. A tour round the community brings to mind how favoured and wonderfully blessed Nigeria is.

It is however a thing of pain to note that the people of Tipto community despite the abundance of the gift of nature they are endowed with had continued to live in total neglect of the basic amenities other communities around them enjoy.

A trip to this community by SI magazine crew from Abuja – prompted by a report from a member of a civil society corporation, (Beyond Mentors Inc), Erinle Abayomi, whose experiences in the community in 2011 as a corps member – ceased to be accessible with the use of a vehicle at a community called Lamurde because of the terrible state of the road. This is about 100 kilometres from Tipto. The only accessible road from Lamurde is a rugged footpath. However, due to its long distance, a motor bike was used for a drive through a very rugged terrain. At some point, the road was sandy, and the other very stony, muddy, and even grassy. Roads which have been overtaken by streams where passed through, but all these challenges did not surpass the beauty of the mountains seen at close range which makes Tipto a possible tourist attractive site if its natural resources would be well harnessed.

Riding into the community which residents are predominantly farmers, and had just two ‘good’ structures – a church and a health centre, one cannot help but wondered how in this age and time, the residents of Tipto despite their challenges went about their normal businesses happily and unperturbed, as if they belong to another planet. It was much more amazing to note that there were no presence of public power supply (which does not seem possible in the next 10 years), no potable water, no school, no accessible road, no hospital (except for a health centre).

The health centre is run by one Mr Monday Israel, who has been there since 2001 and may remain there for many years to come because a possible replacement remains a doubt. “No one posted to this community has responded to a request to replace me,” said Israel, who obviously had succumbed to his fate.

“I have been the only one who takes delivery, clean up, and do every work needed to be done here. I trek to Tino (over six hours to and fro) to buy drugs for patients.”

Israel has shown great courage to remain as the community only hope of service in matters relating to health issues.

A two self-constructed rooms without windows and desks is used for school. The students who are majorly males attend classes in the morning (for those in primary school), while those in the junior secondary school attend classes in the afternoon, sitting on rough floors.

It was observed that the closest market to Tipto is in Tinto. The residents had to carry their farm produce on their heads and walk for three hours to sell them, according to Israel. Owing to their soil fertility, beans is their major farm produce. This beans can be produced in larger quantity if the required tools and equipment are in place. But for the farmers, it is a fairy tale to see that happen if they can be abandoned by government over these years.

In the face of all these challenges, the people of Tipto draw strength from one another. They have this strong belief that one day things would change for good. While remaining fully expectant of a brighter day, they engage in communal activities to help improve the state of their living condition. One of such services is the building of a bridge, the SI magazine crew were privileged to meet them constructing. The bridge would serve to ameliorate the hardship the community had further been plunged into as a result of a ditch created by an erosion. The ditch had disconnected the community from their farmlands for long time, thereby forcing them to walk a longer distance to bypass the ditch.

The joy on the faces of these men as they join force to tackle the challenges before them, even when they know it is the responsibility of the government they voted into power is an indicator that in no time, the needed help would suffice.