Childhood experiences have a way of enduring for ages and even have a bearing on some of the projects or careers people undertake later in life. In the case of Hajiya Nana Shettima, the First Lady of Borno state, some of such experiences stretch back to her days at the Tsangaya school, Maiduguri, when she was barely six years old. By the time she was enrolled in Lamisila Primary School in 1982, little Nana had garnered a rich vein of first-hand knowledge pertaining to the experience of young scholars she encountered at both schools.
Although barely a teenager when she obtained her first school leaving certificate in 1988, the young lady’s mind already contained the seed of what would eventually become her pet project: the desire, nay need, to make a difference in the lives of the less privileged, particularly the Tsangaya. Rather than fade with time, the idea germinated over the years to the extent that the question wasn’t where she would actualize the long-life dream, but when it would come to fruition.
That question was boldly answered on July 17, 2012 when she officially unveiled the SWOT Foundation, an acronym for Support for Widows, Orphans and Tsangaya. Committed to enhancing the welfare and quality of life of widows, orphans and the Almajiri, SWOT Foundation has been appropriately described as an non-governmental Organization in a class of its own, principally on account of its innovative, impactful programmes and projects.
How, you wonder, did the Borno state First Lady begin what has become an action-packed life in the truest sense of the words? It all started on July 22, 1975 when baby nana was born in Kano state to the family of Alhaji Usman Alkali, a retired customs officer, and Hajiya Abubakar Albishir. The third child of her father and second child of her mother, young Nana demonstrated her brilliance early in life such that her parents had no choice than to move her from the informal Tsangaya school to one where she combined both western and Islamic education. Given that pretty little emphasis was placed on education for the female child in those days, particularly in Northern Nigeria, this was rare feat of some kind.
On finishing from Lamisila Primary School in 1988, she proceeded to Government Girls College, Maiduguri, that same year. Characteristically, Nana distinguished herself academically and in other areas such as extracurricular activities, thereby earning the admiration and respect of both her mates and teachers alike. This trend continued till 1999 when she got admitted to the University of Maiduguri graduating in flying colours in 2006 with a B.A (Hons) in English Language.
As everyone is well aware, two of the subjects most feared by many Nigerian secondary school students are English language and mathematics, but not so with enterprising scholar called Nana. Not only did she distinguish her academic and intellectual prowess in that field; she followed it up by enrolling for and obtaining a Post-Graduate Diploma (PGD) in Education in 2006. That of course, was after undertaking her mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme.
It is a measure of how truly golden her heart of gold is (so to say) when even as an undergraduate and later as wife a commissioner (the position her husband held before contesting the governorship poll), Nana went the extra mile to touch lives in her own little way. It was not uncommon to see Nana sharing things with the needy.
With the emergence of Kashim Shettima as the governor of Borno state in May 2011, Nana’s philanthropic endeavours got a fillip as evident in the activities of her pet project, the SWOT Foundation. Duly registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), SWOT has among its board members distinguished personalities such as Alhaji Mohammed Gwoza (Chairman); Hajiya Zainab Abdullahi (Treasurer) and Hajiya Yagana Alkali (Coordinator, Widows Affairs); and so forth
As part of its goals of enhancing the quality of life, SWOT has been actively supporting initiative that improves access to healthcare, credit facility and educational opportunities. All this is driven by the vision of a world with equal opportunity for all and to help “alleviate the suffering of the most vulnerable in our society” as well as “providing aid and creating the opportunity to mobilize the necessary resources in combating poverty.”
Put in another way, Hajiya Nana Shettima is not only a lady with heart of gold but one who is living her dream of rendering selfless service to humanity in general and widows, orphans and almajirai in particular.