Saliu Mustapha Foundation: Restoring hope against gloomy future. By MAHMOOD OLAYINKA ALAYA

Date: 2018-08-20

In this piece, MAHMOOD OLAYINKA ALAYA writes on the quest of an Ilorin based Non Governmental Organisation, Saliu Mustapha Foundation, to redirect the vision of the youth, curb pervasive poverty and raise the bar of education in Kwara State.

Nigeria is currently in a fix. The situation the often touted giant of Africa finds itself has become precarious and now a source of worry to citizens on one hand and observers on another hand. The prevailing situation, which is laced with uncertainty seems to have defied every practical solution deployed to tackle it.

From economy to education and the likes, there is little or no hope in sight as to when things would take a new shape for the overall good of the citizens, who have had to contend with the teething problems.

This is amid claim that the nation's economy, which slipped into recession a few years ago had recovered. The Federal Government had indicated that Nigeria has technically survived the recession, which apparently called to question its policy framework aimed at rejuvenating the economy.

Although the government might have succeeded in its claim if available economic indices are anything to go by, that the country has wriggled out of the quagmire has not manifested in the life of the trodden, who unfortunately are at the receiving end.

Even with the position of the economic management team of the government, it is a gospel truth that Nigerians are daily scrambling to make ends meet, and thus confronted with cash crunch. The situation has made it a survival of the fittest kind of, especially for those at the rung of the ladder.

The ailing economy has compelled business owners to effect shake up in their staff strength while many businesses also closed shops, and the adverse effect is the twin problem of retrenchment and mass unemployment.

While startling figures on the recovery of the economy continue to roll in, the stark reality staring everyone in the face is rising cases of hunger and poverty. Reports from the National Bureau of Statistics also lend credence to the fact that millions of Nigerians are experiencing hard times with no respite in sight for them.

And the question that has often agitated the minds of the citizens, observers and analysts is whether the government is sufficiently equipped to change the narratives beyond the touted words of encouragement and assurances.

Like the economy, the education sector is also not insulated. The standard of the sector has nosedived significantly. At both basic and post basic level, palpable anxiety has continued to heighten on the quality of education unlike in the heydays when the system was envious for other countries.

More disturbing is the challenge with the two core subjects in educational curriculum- English and Mathematics, where students often record mass failure in internal and external examinations.The failing alone has given rise to the agitation across the country for a deft move to be taken to address the challenges thereby making the education system at par with developed nations in the world.

In this rescue effort, government seems overstretched with a lot of responsibilities and others to be catered for. This therefore makes it imperative for non governmental organisations and other stakeholders to come in.

A non governmental organisation, Saliu Mustapha Foundation has taken the bull by the horn in ensuring that poverty is reduced to barest minimum on one hand and standard of education is improved on another. In its insatiable quest to improve on the condition of the less privileged in the society, the NGO founded by a soft spoken and Ilorin born philanthropist, Mallam Saliu Mustapha, has assisted hundreds of people.

The beneficiaries, who are often selected without preferential treatment, cut across the aged, widows, youth and students in the 16 Local Government Areas of the State. The belief of the organisation is that through the assistance, many people, particularly those in need would not only be empowered financially but those interested in businesses can also use such fund to start petty trade through which they can become self reliant and financially independent.

As part of its own contribution to the revival and development of educational sector, the foundation recently offered financial assistance to final year students of tertiary institutions in the state to enable them start and finish their projects.

What followed was the maiden Kwara State Inter-Secondary School English and Mathematics Competition at the instance of the foundation, which featured no fewer than 60 Secondary Schools, 20 each from the three Senatorial Districts of the including Kwara Central, Kwara North and Kwara South in the preliminary stage. The foundation co-opted the state Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development in the event.

The grand finale of the competition, which produced three winners, drew the attention of global community to the State of Harmony, and indirectly developed mental health and capacity of the participants as well as primed them for future challenges.

Speaking at the event, the spokesman of Saliu Mustapha Foundation, Mr Mahmood Olayinka Alaya, said the competition was conceived and organised to enhance teaching and learning of English and Mathematics in secondary schools in the state.

The foundation deplored poor funding of education sector, saying that it requires the support of government, wealthy individuals and organisations to put the sector on the right track.

The foundation said, "This historic event organized by Saliu Mustapha Foundation was designed by the founder of the foundation, Mallam Saliu Mustapha to promote teaching and learning of English and Mathematics as core subjects in our Secondary Schools in the state. This competition among Secondary School students across the three senatorial districts of Kwara State was organized by this foundation to challenge, encourage and reward excellence among the participants.

"This competition was also aimed to encourage and inspire the students on this core subjects. Saliu Mustapha Foundation is totally committed to the development of educational sector in the state through knowledge driven programmes like this one.

"The theme of this competition is "Investment in Education, the Solution to all Problems ". The choice of this theme is apt and timely as the country is currently faced with myriad of problems, especially in the educational sector. Investment in the sector has been abysmally low and require the collective contributions of both the Federal and respective state governments, Non Governmental Organizations and Wealthy individuals. There is need to restore the lost glory of our educational sector. "However, Saliu Mustapha Foundation is determined to empower the future leaders of tomorrow and prepare them ahead of the future challenges. "This competition is supported by the Kwara State Government through the Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development. It started on the 21st of July, 2018 where twenty schools from Kwara Central, twenty from Kwara North and twenty from Kwara South participated in the preliminary stage which was held across the three Senatorial districts simultaneously. At the end of the preliminary stage, ten schools with good performance from each Senatorial district qualified for the grand finale of this competition.

"Today, thirty students that qualified for the grand finale sat for this competition and three out of them emerged victorious. These three best students would be awarded with different prizes. I want to seize this opportunity to congratulate the students, their teachers and schools for their good performances since the beginning of this competition.

"The Foundation had earlier awarded scholarships to one hundred and fifty final year students across tertiary institutions in Kwara State to help them finance their final year projects. This Foundation had also procured JAMB forms for many students across the sixteen local government areas of Kwara State. Apart from its educational drive, Saliu Mustapha Foundation also assisted and empowered fifty widows across the state in terms of monetary benefit to JumpStart businesses of the choice and lessen poverty among them.

"At Saliu Mustapha Foundation, we're highly committed to the upliftment of education in Kwara state, empowerment of our people irrespective of their religion affiliations and community development. The foundation will continue to make positive impact in the society and contribute meaningfully to the living standard of the people of the state".

While speaking with journalists recently, the Founder and financier of the Foundation, Mallam Saliu Mustapha, said the foundation was established to touch the lives of downtrodden people in the society, the students and those with different health challenges.

Mallam Mustapha noted that the foundation aimed to impact on the lives of the people in the immediate environment, saying that government alone should not be saddled with the responsibility of providing the needs of the people, hence the need for Non Governmental Organizations, wealthy individuals to support government at all levels in this directive.

He said " for me is a way of giving back to the environment, and when you look from a strategic position where I stand, if you don't educate people then you're bound to be in an insecure environment. When people are educated, they will know their left from their right, then you can rule out ignorance from what they are doing, but when you ignore them, then for those of us that believed that we are successful, we are only living in the mist of dangers. This is one of the factors driven this foundation to ensure that people within the immediate environment are well educated and catered for"

Recently, Mallam Saliu Mustapha donated two beautiful horses to the Ilorin Emirate Grand Durbar committee as part of his contributions to the event where about five hundred riders would ride five hundred horses in a colourful way alongside with the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu Gambari.

Mallam Saliu Mustapha through his foundation has also penciled down series of programmes that would have direct impact on the lives of the people especially the needy in the society.

In a telephone chat with newsmen, the coordinator of the Foundation, Mr. Lanre Sulyman said the foundation would also focus attention on the health of the people especially in offsetting hospital bills of those that were unable to pay for health services they received, sinking of boreholes at places and communities facing water challenges, organizing a Peace Summit where all key stakeholders would be brought together to discuss challenges and prospect of the forthcoming general polls.

Despite his determination to be touching lives of the people, Mallam Saliu Mustapha has never hold any political appointment neither declare his intension to contest for any political office. It is however pertinent to note that if such philanthropist indicates interest to vye for any political office, the masses particularly the poor would stand firm behind him and give their support to the man who has been putting smiles on the faces of the people.

Mallam Saliu Mustapha has already set the target for other wealthy individuals in the society to follow. It is not until they are in position of authority before they can assist the people. Giving alms has been one of the greatest attributes of the Holy Prophet Mohammed and Prophet Issa



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