Yobe governor, Ibrahim Gaidam and several members of his cabinet are away in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as his state erupted in joy over the release of 101 out of 110 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram on 19 February.
Gaidam was in Malaysia to receive a Gold Merit Award conferred on him by the Lincoln University College of Malaysia, based in Petaling Jaya near Kuala Lumpur.
The award was conferred on him today, coinciding with the release of the schoolgirls abducted from Dapchi Government Girls Science and Technical College.
The governor’s absence may explain why the three ministers sent to Dapchi by President Muhammadu Buhari, are calling in Maiduguri first, instead of going straight to Damaturu, the Yobe capital.
Buhari had visited Damaturu and Dapchi on 14 March and vowed to do everything possible to rescue the Dapchi schoolgirls.
According to the university, Gaidam was recognised for working hard to improve education and security in Yobe State despite the ongoing, nine-year old Boko Haram insurgency.
The award was conferred on him at the University’s 2018 Convocation Ceremony which took place at the Putra World Trade Centre in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.
Lincoln University’s Vice Chancellor Dr. Amiya Bhaumik said the university was impressed that despite the insurgency in Yobe State, Governor Gaidam had forged ahead to rebuild, expand, and equip schools, including some of those earlier destroyed by the Boko Haram insurgents.
“Governor Gaidam has lived the philosophy of Abraham Lincoln of working for the good of humanity. He is not only working hard to nip the Boko Haram insurgency in the bud by partnering with the security forces in Nigeria, he is also working to provide education to boys and girls and, in conjunction with the federal authorities, to make sure that those girls that have been kidnapped are returned safely to their parents.
“For all the contributions toward the development of mankind in the field of education and the promotion of peace and harmony, Lincoln University College today honours Gov. Gaidam”, the Vice Chancellor said.
The Pro-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Datuk Bibi Florina Abdullah also lauded the governor, saying as an institution that is ‘going global’, Lincoln University was pleased to honour the governor.
Gaidam said he was humbled to be so recognised with the gold merit award.
“I am humbled by the fact that this award is a recognition of my contributions, which you have assessed, to the promotion of security, peace, well-being and educational development of my State, Yobe State of Nigeria… I wish to say that this event has no doubt helped to further bring to light what we in Yobe State of Nigeria have been doing for the development of education and security”, he said.
The governor, who spoke about specific actions that he took to re-position the education sector, said his administration is willing to establish partnership with Lincoln University, especially given their renowned excellence in the field of medicine.
“There is the need for collaboration between this University and the Yobe State University fully established and funded by our administration…The Lincoln University College can also assist us with expertise in the running of our State University Teaching Hospital, Damaturu and the full take-off of the College of Medical Sciences in the Yobe State University”, he said.
Gaidam said following the sad abduction of schoolgirls at GGSTC Dapchi, he was initially disinclined to receive the award.
“The sad incident in Dapchi is very devastating. And although the offer letter from Lincoln University came well before the Dapchi incident, I was disinclined to receive the award with what has happened with our girls in Dapchi. But since serious efforts are underway to get the girls back – and we are confident they will be released Insha Allah – I decided not to be discourteous to the University after having initially accepted the honour”, he said.
Providing context to the award conferred on the governor, the Provost of the Atiku Abubakar College of Legal and Islamic Studies, Nguru Dr. Abba Idriss, who was present at the ceremony, said Lincoln University picked Yobe State as an area of research interest following a conference paper he delivered under the title “Boko Haram Insurgency and its Effects on Education in Nigeria: The Case of Yobe State” in Pahang, Malaysia in April, 2017.
“The occasion was the 2nd International Conference on Humanities, Language, Culture and Business. Many Malaysian Universities were represented at the conference, Lincoln University among them. After I delivered my paper, Lincoln University decided to show interest by checking some of the issues I raised.”