• ‘My wife and I will ensure you get the best,’ VP tells the children
• Says ‘you will always be remembered, first to respond to plight of the children’
• VP ambushed at airport by joyous aides, Abuja Choir, others
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN spent time with the students of the Learning Centre in Borno State to mark his 66th birthday, on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, a moment after he began the day with a quiet morning devotion service at the Aguda House residence in the Presidential Villa.
But unknown to him aides and others such as the Abuja International Choir had something else in mind. After the morning devotion service, the VP with his wife, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo proceeded to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport where he was ambushed by aides and associates and members of the choir who serenaded him with singing and joyous celebrations as he came out of the car.
“I am hardly ever taken by surprise, but now really I’m surprised, thank you all so much,” he said as he was led to cut the cake already set up in the lobby of the Presidential Wing of the airport.
From there he then proceeded to Borno State where the Learning Centre, an educational charity he envisioned in 2016, is based. He had led the efforts that produced the North East Children’s Trust and the Learning Centre then.
The North East Children’s Trust is a private sector-led charity and social engineering initiative incorporated in 2017 with a mission to create innovative, transformational sustainable learning ecosystems that will nurture, renew and empower vulnerable children between ages 5 and 18 years who have become orphans as a result of the insurgency in North-East Nigeria.
It has provided comprehensive support to 686 orphaned and vulnerable children through accommodation, feeding, quality education and rehabilitative psychosocial support.
On arrival at the Nigeria Air Force Base, Maiduguri, the VP was received by Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum, who was accompanied by his wife, Hajiya Falmata, and other top government officials. He then proceeded to the NECT Learning Centre where children of the institution had a lineup of activities to mark the day for the man they now call ‘Daddy’.
The Children treated the VP, his wife, members of the NECT Board and other State government officials, to entertaining and humorous sporting games (novelty football matches, sack and egg races) and a rendition of a special birthday song for the celebrant. The VP flanked by other guests at the event also cut a special cake presented to him by the school.
Speaking afterwards, Prof. Osinbajo reassured the staff and children of the institution of his commitment to keep providing world-class facilities that would make them the best among their peers, regardless of the prevailing socioeconomic conditions.
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“All of you children who are here, one very certain thing is that God giving me good health and preserving my life, I will ensure that you get the very best. However it is, we will do everything possible to make sure that you get the very best, because that is the promise and pledge that we made when we started,” the Vice President noted.
Speaking further about the school and the children, Prof. Osinbajo said, “My wife and I consider the children of this school our own children; we want to give them the kind of education that our own children have had, which is why everything that is being done here is done to the best standards available anywhere in the world.
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“If you look at the quality of staff here, quality of equipment and facilities, they are among the best in the world and we keep trying to ensure that our teachers have the best exposure that is possible anywhere in the world. And as we go along, you will see that it can only get better.
“So, for me, this school is a very personal thing indeed. I pray and I hope that we will be able to do more and more for these children and many others as they pass through this school.”
Continuing, he said, “what we intend to do in this school as the years go by is to ensure that this school is a model for the world. I was so excited to hear that a number of our children have gone to secondary school and a couple into university, and I believe one or two will be graduates this year or next. We are going to make sure that our kids get the best education that you can find anywhere in the world. I am looking forward to when children from here will compete and beat children from Harvard and other places around the world.”
In his remarks, Governor Zulum, who was represented at the school by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Usman Jidda, thanked the Vice President for his unwavering commitment to the education and plight of the vulnerable, noting that the establishment of the school is further testament to his kindheartedness and concern for the downtrodden in the society.
In the same vein, the Commissioner of Education, Engr Abba Wakilbe, thanked the VP for the establishment of the school and constant monitoring of its progress, noting that “the good people of Borno State will always remember Prof. Osinbajo as the first person who responded to the plight of the over 56,000 children orphaned by the Boko Haram insurgency by catering for their educational needs.”
“I once told you that children from this institution enrolled in various Government Secondary Schools are called “Osinbajo”. That on its own is a clear testimony to your impact on their lives.
“Your Excellency, you will be remembered as a true nationalist who crossed from the Atlantic to the Sahel to respond to the cries and suffering of children. I pray that the almighty God will make your end as successful as he has made your life,” the Commissioner added.
Others present at the event were the Wife of the Governor, Hajiya Falmata Zulum; the Vice Chairperson of the NECT board, Prof. Hauwa Biu, among others.
Earlier in the morning, family members and personal staff had joined Prof. Osinbajo and his wife at Aguda House to give thanks to God, singing and reading bible passages. There was also a special ministration from popular gospel artist, Dunsin Oyekan.