Fatimah Ganduje-Ajimobi, daughter of Abdullahi Ganduje, governor of Kano State, is a kind-hearted young woman. FGA as fondly called by friends and admirers has been actively involved in child advocacy and women empowerment through her non-governmental initiative called Let’s Talk Humanity (LTH). For the uninitiated, LTH was born out of a desire to create a stable and fair society for every person regardless of race, gender or ability. Few years ago, the beautiful child advocate who is currently the Special Assistant on NGOs and Civil Society to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila told Abuja Standard Publisher, SEYI ONIFADE, the story behind her charitable work. Enjoy!
Can you share with our readers what your NGO, Let’s Talk Humanity, (LTH) is all about?
Let’s Talk Humanity is a non-governmental organization that has its focus on the idea of the Nigerian child, the idea that the Nigerian child is our most valuable asset as a nation, that if we are going to make a sustainable and progressive generations yet to come, then we need to value our Nigerian child. Not just to value that Nigerian child but to educate the child, teach the child basic realities and most importantly, basic education. So in my NGO we try as much as we can to involve ourselves in projects that help the children that are disabled. Now when I say disabled, I do not only mean physically disabled because here at LTH the disabled child is that child that cannot see, that child that cannot hear, that child that’s hawking on the street, to us that’s a Nigerian disabled child. And that’s the child that we need to preserve his loyalty, efficiency and capacity most of all so that generations to come we can have a preventive and stable Nigeria.
So what really inspired your passion for charity?
Well, what inspired this passion goes back about two years, I attended the American University of Nigeria in Yola, Adamawa State and I majored in International and Comparative Politics which exposed me to a lot of humanitarian causes, conflict management, then an unfortunate circumstance brought about fortunate result for me because during my third and fourth year in University that was when insurgency was at its peak in the north eastern part of the country. Now my University was located in Adamawa which is part of the three States that were affected – Borno, Adamawa and Yobe. And sometimes we would be in school and for four or five months, and we wouldn’t have any cellular services, no Wi-Fi, no network because they had cut it off so that they would be effectively determined where the Boko Haram insurgents are located. So I was able to first hand witnessed Nigerians suffer, witnessed Nigerian children especially suffer and then studying this course and been able to see that this is what I read about, analyze and argue about in the classroom. I mean this is what’s happening right outside the gate of my University so I was able to properly understand the situation. On one of my trips because we often make trips into Internally Displaced Persons, (IDPs) centers or villages on the outskirts of Adamawa just to further understand insurgency because I am a human right activist. And then we travel to a village on the border of Adamawa and Cameroon. And there I met a little girl called Amouna just a little over 5 years old she could speak a little of Hausa and I had someone with me who could speak her own indigenous language which is Kanuri. And we were able to ask her questions and found out that they had come all the way from Buni Yadi, a village on the outskirts of Yobe State. And we were able to understand that the insurgents attacked Buni Yadi and all the villagers had to flee. Her mother was pregnant and delivered in the bush but died with the baby and the villagers took up her. It was at that point that you would realize the communal relationship, and the hospitality in Nigerians that even if a mother dies that the child still belongs to the community. They took Amouna all the way till they settle at their IDP camp at a Catholic church in Adamawa. So I would go and meet her and ask her question and record her. Then on one of my visits to her I asked her questions about what happened to her, that these bad people that came to your village, these insurgents if they are caught what should happen to them. And this barely 5-year-old little Nigerian girl told me that these people should be killed. And I said to myself how can I and this girl who share the same nationality and at 5 years old she understands what it’s to kill and support the idea of killing we rounded up session for that day and I went back to campus. And a week later on, I went back to see her and you know what, Seyi, she told me something that up to today nothing has struck me as much as that. Amouna told me that she did not mean that they should kill them. She actually meant that they should capture them and bring them for us to kill them. Now you can see that a 5-year-old Nigerian child does not trust Nigerian military, does not trust the Nigerian police. She does not trust Nigeria as a whole and believe that the only person that can give her revenge that’s based on justice can only be herself, that nobody can preserve her value and stand up for her but herself. And that was the day LTH began.
Tell us what has been your greatest challenge thus far running LTH?
Ermm… my biggest challenge so far running LTH has been the idea that I am a young, Muslim northern Fulani woman more than anytime it’s very apparent today in Nigeria that the young people are not given the importance that we deserved and women especially are not given the importance they deserved so my biggest hurdle has been basically what I am made of.
So how do you get funds to run LTH?
At this point I get funds from a lot of just random people that believe in my ideas and ideologies. On my website I have an account up there and people just go there and send in money. And then a lot of the projects that I do, I do them in partnership with government and ministries that are able to help us with logistics and what not. And then my family has been a very huge supporter of the dream and anytime I got short of funds, I do have someone like my father I could fall back on, he would tell me I am not going to give you hundred percent of what you need but I’ll meet you halfway so that you could learn that nothing good comes easy. And of course, funds have been our greatest challenge but in the Nigerian culture today, as I am not coming from a poor home. I am coming from a comfortable home; most people would just say oh her parents would give her what she needs, why should we give her what she needs? But that’s not the point you know but the point is seeing yourself at different organization of people been able to contribute to something that you could see the outcome, you could see the output tangible in physical form so most of my funds comes from different people but we’ve not been able to get funds from the bigger organizations. I don’t see that as a disadvantage. I feel we are young NGO and I feel for you to get to the point that you could get large funding from big organizations such as Department for International Development, (DFID), I believe you have to deserve it. I believe you have to be able to show that you are truly for the Nigerian child across the whole of Nigeria, you have to be able to show that you have the track record because in this business of NGO there are a lot of scams so I believe I have to go the extra mile before I can now go to any big organization and request for funds you have to deserve it before you get it.
A lot of your NGO’s projects are located in Kano and up north, Is LTH a northern thing? Are you extending your hand of humanity to other parts of the country?
I’m very glad that you ask me that question, LTH originates from my State but it’s not for my State or just for the north. The reason why you would see that we have many projects down in my State rather than others is because charity begins at home but then I have projects in other places. I have a project in Nasarawa State that I do, I have an ongoing project in Imo State. I have an ongoing project in Maiduguri, Borno State. And I am about to start a project in Akwa Ibom so I’m not a northern NGO. I am trying to have projects in at least more States in the six geopolitical zones.
You served as Vice President of Student Government Association (SGA) of the American University of Nigeria during your University days; are you following in the footsteps of your father by going into mainstream politics?
Ermm… No in some few years I would be busy with my NGO and taking it to greater heights.
How was life like growing up for you, any fond memories you would like to share with our readers briefly?
No, I would pass on that.
How would you describe your father?
My father is a very patient man, a good listener and an excellent public servant.
Lastly, how would you like to be remembered?
Ermm I would like to be remembered as someone that was able to provide others with opportunities that I had. That’s all.