Engineer Isuwa Galla is a philanthropist and the current President Zaar Development Association (ZDA) nation wide in this interview with YAHAYA AUDU in Bauchi he speak on Galla Mathematics comparation, his 2020 vision for his people and the ongoing peace process in Tafawa Balewa.
What motivated you to sponsored a mathematics competition for secondary school students in Tafawa Balewa?
That mathematics is in my own sector, as an engineer and a very good mathematician, mathematics was my hobby during my school days and I believe that the mathematics competition is going to give us a good assessment of the education standard in our area. This is the fourth edition am conducting mathematics competition to encourage the students, motivate them to atleast squash that fear of mathematics in them because I believe that once you can do well in mathematics you can equally do well in other subjects and pleasing enough is that from the assesment I got from this year’s mathematics competition, the private schools are doing far better than public schools, so you begin to wonder those that can not afford private schools, they will suffer in the public schools. So, it is an avenue for me to also recommend that government should step up measures and the teachers should do their job diligently to justify their pay.
Do you intend to give the best students in the competition a kind of scholarship or what do you have for them?
Yes, within my capacity I have some prizes, ranging from hundred thousand, fifty thousand, thirty thousand and ten ten thousand. I was able to survey twenty secondary schools in Bogoro local government and twenty secondary schools in Tafawa Balewa local government and each school gave us two best mathematics students which we gathered them and screened them at different stages, we got to the first stage, second stage, third stage and now the fourth stage is the one I took them myself, set the questions for them, markd it and gave them the prizes. I have friends with me that say oh you are doing a good job, some volunteered to buy WAEC and JAMB forms for them. So, on my own part the best students, apart from the cash gifts, the medal and the award plagues they also go with one hundred thousand and then we gave them the WAEC and the JAMB forms.
Sir, how many students have so far benefited from this gesture?
Since inception I think is about 45 youths have benefited from this programme.
How many boys, and how many girls?
Like this year, surprisingly, a lady came first in the competition, her name is Elizabeth Simon, she came first and I was surprised that we have ladies that can actually perform well. So, we are encouraging them but I can’t give you the perfect figure for now, of number of boys and girls but I know there are many girls that have benefited from it and the top twelve of this year were given consolation prizes.
On the issue of education system where you said that private schools are much better than public schools. Do you buy the idea of sponsoring students for WAEC by the government?
To encourage them, yes. Looking at the poverty level of our communitiesis also something that I think subsidizing it or paying for them will definately encourage them but I would like that there should be a yardstick for those people that are putting in their best to pass their exams I think that have justified government’s investment in them unlike the normal tradition where everybody come and go wether you are serious or not you access it and that’s all, no, I felt that the public institutions should do better than what they are doing now.
Recent renovation of some schools by the state Government is seen also as a motivational factor. What is your take on that?
Yes, renovation of school is just a structure but what you get from the school is the knowledge impacted on individuals, so that is why I am still calling on the teachers, they should do justice to their task, they should be able to teach willingly and not been compelled to or because you have no option than to teach, and also the students, they should take education as a hobby, they should enjoy going to school not going to school as if they are forced to.
Some people say that the poor performance in our educational system today is not unconnected with poor remuneration for teachers. What do you have to say on that?
That is laughable because, I could remember we went to chemist to get an injection and the chemist man was telling us that we should pay two hundred naira and when we told him that we have only one hundred naira, he said no, except if you want us to do one hundred naira own injection for us, that means it’s going to be more painful than that of the two hundred naira own, but at the end of the day injection is injection. So, what I am trying to say in essence is that wether you are been paid well or not, the knowledge is there, you should be able to impact it hundred percent but by holding some parts of the knowledge you are not helping yourself and you are not helping the government or the society in general while the National Union of Teachers pursue review of salaries you should be happy to give in your best to the students and the society.
Sir, Coming back to the mathematics competition you sponsored. How long do you intend to sustain the programme?
As long as I have the enabling capacity to do that. What I mean by enabling capacity is that from my income I decided to save some percentage on a monthly bases dedicated to Galla Mathematics Competition and thank God, looking at the bigger picture now, I have started Galla Foundation where our motto is ‘Supporting Talent’. So we are now looking at talent everywhere to sponsor or support them in achieving their desired dreams. So, as long as I am alive and well to do I will continue to sponsor this mathematics competition and pass it on from generation to generation.
Sir, what do you think about the people who might view this your gesture as plans to nurture political ambition in future?
No. I started doing this mathematics competition since 2004, even some of my students as I am talking to you, include married women, we groom through extra mural lessons. Some of them are now working in CBN and many other places, from this gesture, they picked up the challenge and they did well in Polytechnics, Universities and colleges and now they are in a better place. Whenever they see me they say mallam and I say to them don’t call me mallam but call me Engineer. So their joy is my concern and I believe in the phrase that say die empty. Anything we get in this world we give it out willingly with no reservations and God will continue to bless you on it.
What message do you have for your people as we step into 2020?.
Yes, 2019 has come and gone with its own challenges and as we stepped into the new year 2020, I want my people to put their fingers crossed and be hopeful and determine as we walk through it and believe that the year is going to be good for all of us.
The message I have for my people is clear. As it stands, everybody is aware of what we have passed through and what we represent and what we have put on ground. The peace process can never be negotiated with anything and as far as we remain law abiding, peaceful citizens we hope that our patience will speak for us when they will consider some of our problems and give us justice. So, my call to my people is for them to continue to be more hardworking as we pass through the year for them to benefit from the blessings that come along with the 2020, it is not going to be easy but if we are determined, we will all make it by God’s grace.
Sir, what do you have in stock for your people?
This year, we are looking for so many things. We have commemoration of Baba Peter Gonto, the freedom fighter of Zaar land, we are planning it this year, we are going to finish it by God’s grace, the building started in memory of him and we also hope that this year our ZDA secretariat will be ready for commissioning and as such, the Lemp zaar festival this year we are going to make it to be more colorful than that of the previous years. So, all these can not be achieved without us uniting to pursue all these. So, I want to call on my people to bury our differences, interests, we should come together, once we come together in Zaar land we will achieve a lot in terms of development and I know my people will never figth each other for any reason and we will not.
How will you describe the current peace existing in your area
it’s applaudable, we respect freedom of movement, freedom of speech and right to life and all the rights that is enshrined in the Nigerian constitution, we respect that and is been played out in my community. As we speak, every body is free to practice his religion, to go about his normal business, to stay anywhere without any harassment.
Lastly Sir. What is your experience of leadership?
Leadership to me I felt, right from our school days we always volunteer to share things to our people. You know when there is a task, before they ask who will do it we just jump up and say I will do it. If you are willing to serve people I think in a long run that’s leadership, taking responsibility, taking caharge of some things. So, basically to me, that is leadership. If you are willing to serve your subjects very well, even when your people are on the same platform you can take charge and begin to serve them, that is leadership to me though it comes with many challenges, people may criticize you for the right thing they may not know but by the time they get the awareness they begin to know why this is like this.