A former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai (Rtd) has commended a non-governmental organisation committed to the enhancement of education, health and environment, HalimaFactor Community Initiative on efforts being put in place towards the discovery of talents among young people in the Nigerian society.
According to Buratai, such moves go a long way in reducing youth restiveness, enhancing national development and positioning the country on a global map.
Buratai made this commendation while speaking as a Special Guest of Honour at the just concluded 3rd edition of the North East Festival For Literature, Culture and Creativity at Gombe State University.
The annual event started ten years ago as Gombe Day of Literature but in 2020, it changed to North East Festival For Literature, Culture and Creativity because of its widespread in the six states of the North East geopolitical zone.
The former army chief while decrying the dwindling fortunes of education across the country said the dilapidation in the sector has led to the growing number of out-of-school children in the country.
According to him, things were different in his days, insisting that high rate of banditry in the country cannot be extricated from bad shape of the education sector.
“From my form 1—5 in the teachers’ college, I was given scholarship, I was paid transport fare from my home to the school.
“Our schools were well maintained, uniforms were provided, books were provided, all free of charge but today that is not the case. Schools are hardly maintained. We have so many dilapidated school structure, parents have to pay through their nose for tuition fees”, he stated.
While describing primary and secondary education as fundamental, Buratai called on government at all levels to implement various policies being put in place to enhance the accessibility of basic education for every Nigerian child.
He commended HalimaFactor Community Initiative for the annual event which he said has assisted in giving young Nigerians mentorship to give them a brighter future.
“Ten years of this programme has come of age. It is time to expand it beyond the North East and make it a nationwide programme”, he stated.
While pledging the support of Tukur Buratai Research Centre and friends on annual basis for the development of the initiative, he appealed to philanthropic organisations, industrialists, federal and state government agencies to support the initiative and ensure it is replicated across the country in order to get the best out of the youths.
He hailed the performances of various schools in the North East who participated in the 2023 edition, describing it as the manifestation of excellence being unravelled, even as he called on the Nigerian Army to include Command Secondary Schools as participants in subsequent editions, emphasizing that it will further expose them to realities of time and develop their capacities.
Earlier in her remarks, the founder HalimaFactor Community Initiative, Halima Usman applauded individuals and organisations who have supported the event in the past one decade.
She said it was designed to catch children young and given them opportunity to excel and make the best of their talents.
“Many children have lost hopes because they are not properly guided. They just go to school and read any course offered to them and when they come out with third class, they said ‘well that was the course I was given’. That is because they were not well guided.
“Gombe Day Of Literature started as a platform for these children to discover their talents and use it to sustain themselves. It gives them opportunity to know that their innate ability is enough to sustain them in life without waiting for government jobs”, she stated.
The event designed to promote creativity generally, including painting, art work, spoken words, dance, acrobat and more took place from Nov. 12—16.
The competition for the winner started at secondary schools at state level while the grand finale took place during the tenth edition of the North East Festival For Literature, Culture and Creativity.
Top dignitaries who graced the event include, deputy governor of Gombe state, Dr. Manassah Daniel Jatau, the representative of the chief of Air Staff, Air Commodore Apeh Joseph, the Mai Kaltungo, Engr. Sale Mohammad UMAR, the representative of the Director General of NOA among others.