Zulum: Building Borno of the future through BOSVEI  

The first in the series of reports by ABDULRAHMAN A.ABDULRAUF who was recently in Maiduguri, Borno state capital, captures Governor Umara Babagana Zulum’s effort at giving hope to the internally displaced persons (IDPs) and some unemployed youth through training and vocation.  

A dignifying and attractive edifice with very simple but magnificent structure prettily sits atop a large expanse of land. The environment never shows any inkling of a busy zone. However, upon stepping into the premises, one is confronted with a sizable number of men and women struggling to rebuild their lives following the insurgency that nearly eclipsed Borno and the other Northeast states of Yobe and Adamawa.

Upon walking into the centre of action, one sees a typical engineer at work, guiding and dishing out instructions to the trainees. A trained mechanical engineer, Ahmed Zakariya, the visibly restless coordinator of the Borno State Vocational and Enterprise Institute (BOSVEI), displays passion as he conducts this reporter round all the trading workshops at the institute in Muna, an outskirt of Maiduguri, the capital city of Borno.

The volume of equipment and the crowd of trainees are strong evidence of the future ahead the beleaguered state. They are mainly drawn from the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)- 20 each from all the 27 local government areas of the state- coming together and once again ready to pick up the bits and pieces of their lives. The training net also captures some unemployed youth.  

The trainees spread across various vocations such as tailoring and fashion design, hairdressing and cosmetology, welding, plumbing and pipe-fitting, carpentry and joinery, building technology, electrical works, solar panel and installation, automobile and mechatronics, agricultural technology, knitting and crocheting, aluminum fabrication, and ICT training facilities.

…Take-off

The centre, which came into being June 2021 and inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari, is also  replicated in  Monguno, Magumeri, Mafa and Dikwa, all across the senatorial districts.  

At take-off, Ahmed said the centre admitted 1,217 trainees with 832 of them graduating in 2022 after a one-year stint. According to him, each of the 27 local government areas provided 20, with others coming from some major stakeholders like the traditional rulers.   

He further disclosed that the initiative is a collaborative effort among the Borno State Government, the UNDP, UNICEF and the federal government, through the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure(NASENI).

The coordinator also spoke on the components making the sprawling centre and who and is available for what.

“State Government takes charge of providing infrastructure, funding, equipping and management of manpower. While UNDP, UNICEF, NASENI used available infrastructure for training IDPs. Also, the state government admitted over 4,000 IDPs between 2021 June to 2024 June, just in BOSVEI Muna alone,” he said.

The institute boasts of equipment like solar tracker, numerous computers, sewing machines among several others.

According to the  coordinator further said there is a significant level of response from the trainees. “The response from the trainees has been encouraging.  They show enthusiasm and commitment during the training.  One will be shocked to see the kind of talents that abound in this institute.

“You see, with about 70 per cent of them coming from the IDP camps, one can just imagine the level of peace that is achieved through this programme. They are committed and properly taken care of.  Like you saw it yourself when you came in, this is a beehive of activities,” he said.

…Post-graduation life

On life after graduation, Ahmed said “they are provided  with starter packs and before you know it, they are into doing great things.  The  feedback we get after graduation is quite encouraging.  For instance, one of them, Isa by name, is a tailor and has his base between the Nigerian and Nigerien border. He is doing big things there.

“Also, there is a lady who is into shoemaking and bag-making, she exports her products to Ndjamena in Chad. She is doing quite well. It may also interest you to know that some of our products are been sold in Abuja and Kano and a couple of other places. Also, some of these graduates operate from home, especially those of them into tailoring and shoe, and bag-making.

…What future?

For the institute and its trainees, the future is great, said the coordinator. “For those who have graduated, we still provide them the opportunity to return and further hone their skills.  This is because, what we are looking at here is a future where Borno will be a hub of industrialization. We will continue to have a kind of collaboration between the informal sector and the mini-industries. By doing this, we will obviously have new ideas and the skill acquisition is ad infinitum. 

“So, when they upgrade their skills as envisaged, then this will certainly enhance their works. So, when you look at all of this, one come to the realization that Borno is upping its game, by not only putting behind the security challenge, but also journeying into the future, using BOSVEI,” Ahmed further explained.   

Speaking in similar vein, head of the ICT unit, Jibrin Ibrahim,  said  the unit takes its students through the gamut of  typing, computer processing, networking and related  areas, stressing that “the talent exhibited by these trainees are just unimaginable. We  also tutor our graduates to ensure positive use of their ICT knowledge, and that is the only  way we can be proud of them as their own.”

–Charge to government

And for one of the beneficiaries of the scheme, Mohammed Lawan Kur, from Gubio local government area of the state, the government needs to look in their direction and engage the institute by way of collaboration in getting some of the government’s jobs done.

Kur, who has spent 8 months undergoing tutelage in building construction, said “so far, I have lent production processes, making of blocks, bricks and interlocking, construction of beams and slabs. I wish to have my own mini-computer and also operate a block industry.”         

 “But I also want to use this opportunity to call on our father, Governor Zulum, to support this institute  by directing government offices to patronize our centre. We have the capacity in all field. When we have the contracts from government, we can do them at reduced cost and by doing that the government will be growing BOSVEI. This is what I want government to do for our centre,” added the 25-year-old trainee.

…Government’s intervention

Speaking in an interview with Blueprint, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on New Media, Abdurrahman Ahmed Bundi, underscored the attention the Zulum administration gives to the institute.

“To show the level of interest our amiable governor, His Excellency, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, has in this project, the government is in the process of upgrading the centre to a monotechnic where it will be awarding national diploma.

“You went round and saw some of the equipment in the many workshops. Beyond this, the government has never abandoned the institute. As an academic himself, he is conscious of all layers of education, and that’s why the Zulum administration has, in collaboration with other stakeholders, facilitated the take-off of the centre. For us in Borno state, this gives us hope that a greater future lies ahead of our dear state,” Bundi further said.

But like Kur said, the government will be doing the institute, and by extension the people of the state a lot of good if it ensures the manpower at the centre is rightly put to use in the handling of state’s capital projects. By this, the Zulum administration will be teaching the people of the state to consume what it produces.