By Isiyaku Muhammed
Over the years, water scarcity posed a great challenge to the residents of Kwaga village in Toro local government area of Bauch state, until Umar Abubakar took it upon himself to provide a solution for his people. In this interview with Daily Trust Saturday, Umar discusses his life journey and the steps he took to bring water to his community.
While growing up in the sleepy community of Kwagga village in Toro Local Government Area of Bauchi State, Umar Abukakar Danfulani was always afraid of a permanent morning routine: fetching water for house chores.
For decades, scarcity or lack of water had been a constant problem in the village, as the young Umar learned from his parents. There’s no pipe borne water, no borehole, and the only source of water in the village was a murky pond. They resorted to prayers for succour, years after years, hoping for an end to the problem one day.
“I have always had this feeling that whenever any opportunity comes my way, I’d solve the problem of lack of water in my village. I grew up and saw this problem. I have been wondering why it could not be solved all these years. I then set my mind on finding a lasting solution,” he told our reporter.
Umar had been longing to solve this problem for his people and also thinking of how, when and where would he get the needed funds to execute the project as well.
A graduate of Environmental Biology from the University of Maiduguri with second class upper division, he is presently on the mandatory youth service in Abuja.
“I started my primary education at Mai Allo Primary School, in Toro LGA. I then proceeded to Government Day Secondary School Tilden Fulani, where I did my secondary education.
Hardworking Umar continued his menial job – car wash business in Gwarinpa Estate.
“I personally sponsored my education in the university. I have been working as a car wash man for more than 10 years now. It was from the proceeds that I sponsored my education and achieved my lifelong ambition of acquiring a degree.”
After the degree, the norm in Nigeria is for a graduate to start looking for a white-collar job, or to get capital as a startup.
For Umar, it is the right time to get back to his car washing business and continue from where he stopped.
While doing his youth service, and at the same time engaged in the car washing business, Danfulani came in contact with a digital firm Shibnobi on Twitter. Unknown to him, it’s going to be a life changing opportunity.
“I saw their advert on Twitter looking for a volunteer in Nigeria who has basic computer knowledge, so I decided to give it a try. After series of interviews, they found me fit and qualified for the job and they offered me the opportunity to be their lead moderator in Nigeria. That was how I started working with them.”
The N6m gift
“During our work and discussion, I told them my life story and how I struggled to acquire my degree certificate. Perhaps, they looked at how committed I was to my duty, and the company’s CEO, Cliff Fettner, called me for more details. Later, they they told me that they would offer me a gift of N6m as a support grant.
“It was a huge amount of money that can change my life, but I have something bigger in my mind. I saw it as an opportunity to wipe away the tears of residents of my community. So, I contacted them and asked if they could help me to divert the money to provide clean water in my village, and I narrated to them how we have been suffering to get drinking water.”
“Mr Fettner then asked me to provide him with the estimate of the project, and I contacted a local borehole drilling company, which provided an estimate of N8m. The company donated the amount it pledged, and the community raised N2m, and a 100-meter borehole with a steel overhead tank of 30,000 litres and a solar panel was constructed. Now, my village has clean water. I am very much fulfilled.”
Danfulani’s clarion call
Speaking after getting the project done, Umar Danfulani said he is now committed to finding ways to deliver the same project to more villages around his.
“I visit the village regularly from Abuja. My biggest achievement in life so far is the happiness I see in the faces of my people whenever I visit them. Lack of clean water is now a thing of the past. I am happy that our younger ones will not have to suffer the same way we did. During my interactions with some parents, I urged them to allow their children to concentrate on school. Another thing is that I saw hope in our youths and the parents. After this project, our youths are now falling in love with school, and parents are now citing me as an example to their children.”
On what he desires next, Danfulani said he wants to get more opportunities from the government, individuals and NGOs to provide clean water to more villages.
“Many villages are suffering in silence. Lack of clean water is a big problem that is becoming normal in many villages, which perhaps is the reason why water borne diseases are ravaging our people in the hinterlands. They don’t have the water, and they don’t have the means of reaching out for assistance.
“I also want to help my brothers from the village by changing their mindset towards life. I want them to have bigger dreams and focus on achieving them. I believe with resilience; we will get it done.”
Testimonies from villagers
Confirming the project, Sarkin Kwagga Malam Idris Abdullahi Kwagga, said, “I don’t even know how to describe this boy and how to describe our happiness and appreciation. He is now a good example to all our youth. I’m still very surprised over what he did. It was a big opportunity for him to get rich, like young boys of his age but he rather decided to help us. Instead of him using the money for his personal use or for his family alone, he decided to help the whole village. We now have a solar borehole. The project has brought our village to the limelight.
“Another thing is that his father is late, so you see he would not know the good legacy laid by his son. But instead of him using the money to change his life, he said it is better for him to help us wipe our tears. We thank him, and we pray that God Almighty will help him in all his endeavours.”
Sarkin Kwagga further called on the government to acknowledge Umar’s sacrifice in order to encourage others.
“Many youths now want to get rich and abandon their villages, but for Umar it is different. He got the money but sacrificed it for our collective good. His selflessness is unimaginable. In all my life, I’ve never heard something like this. So, I am calling on the government to do something for this boy. I want the Bauchi State governor, federal government and NGOs to kindly help him. It’d go a long way in encouraging youths to tow such noble footsteps.”
This interview was first published in DailyTrust