‘‘Wow! It’s a pleasure, you could take out time to be here tonight’’ Michael the white American CNN host smiled at his guest.
‘‘ Thank you’’ his guest smiled back at him and continued in an enlightened Hausa accent ‘‘it is an honour to be here and indeed to be chosen as the outstanding person of the year for The Humans With The Heart Of Gold Show. I’m humbled, thank you’’.
‘‘Hmm Sir, I like your humility. A man of your pedigree who has become an international figure and influencer, yet still very down to earth. I think everyone needs to learn a thing or two from you’’
His guest erupted in gentle laughter ‘‘Sir, you are too kind, but the truth is that, everyone has something to teach and everyone has something to learn. That’s a lesson life taught me, quite early’’
Immediately he said that, there was a volcanic eruption of applause from the live audience.
Michael, the CNN anchor host smiled broadly at his audience, as he joined them in clapping. Then he spoke directly into the camera ‘‘Hello viewers, this is to formally welcome you to the Humans With The Heart Of Gold Show. My name still remains Michael Spatt, with a double ‘T’, your favourite anchor man. You know the drill, we clap when necessary. No interruptions, if you have any questions, you’ll have to wait until our guest is done with his story. Are we good?’’ He asked his audience
‘‘Yes’’ chorused the audience
‘‘Thank you’’ Michael Spatt smiled ‘‘without further ado’’ he looked at his guest ‘‘Sir could you please formally introduce yourself to our viewers’’
‘‘My name is Dr. Hassan Abdulrasheed’’
‘‘Do you mean Ph.D , sir?’’ Interrupted, the host.
‘‘Oh! No , I’m a medical doctor’’
‘‘Thanks for the clarification, where exactly are you from?’’
‘‘I’m from West Africa, North of Nigeria, Borno state’’
‘‘Whoa! Is that not where the Boko Haram heat is hottest? What is really their problem?’’
‘‘Yes sir, that’s actually the boiling point of the terrorist activities, and that’s the starting point of my story. The problem, as long as I’m concerned is poor education and that’s why I’m angry with the Nigerian politicians, especially the Northern elite’’.
‘‘Yes, your story. That’s the reason we are here, please sir go ahead’’
‘‘Thank you’’ Dr. Hassan’s voice became a little hoarse but distinct ‘‘actually, I have told my story on various platforms and I’m not tired of telling it’’ He paused, looked directly into in the camera ‘‘I’m Hassan Abdulrasheed. I was born into a polygamous home, which is permitted by my religion. My mother was the last wife. I was her last and only son, I had two elder sisters from my mother and almost a dozen elder sisters and brothers from my step mothers. My father used to be a very wealthy man but things went bad for him immediately after my mother got pregnant with me. This was actually due to the Boko Haram activities going on in the area. My father being a stubborn man refused to re-locate because of his investments. My father managed to train me to secondary school and it was there I met my friend; Mohammed. We were like two peas in a pod and most times from school I followed him to his house. He had this elder brother that terrified me. He always had money to spend on us, which surprised me because they were poor and I never saw him going to work. He kept telling us that we were wasting our time with education especially western education.
“Meanwhile at home, things had gone from bad to worse. The last bomb attack, practically raised down the last of my father’s investment. This sent my father into a cataclysmic shock, which led to his death. As a result of this, my oldest brother flew in from the U.S and without delay, we buried dad. Yusuf, my eldest brother took special interest in me and told me to be in touch.
“I resumed school some months later and found out that Mohammed was no longer coming to school. I paid him a visit to ascertain why, it was then he told me he no longer believed in education, that it was all a waste of time and entrapment by white people. That he had chosen a new path for himself and would advise that I join him.
“Truth be told, at that point in time, things were so difficult at home. We could barely eat and there I was watching Mohammed spending money carelessly. My mum was sick, my elder sisters were frustrated. I was alone and the man of my mother’s gate. It was left to me to take care of my family, so after some hours of deep meditation, I went to see Mohammed and asked him to show me the way. He took me to his elder brother and that was how I joined one of the most notorious gangs in my state. We caused mayhem and committed a lot of atrocities’’ he paused, looking very sad. ‘‘I became a source of concern to my family so they reported me to my elder brother. Everyone spoke to me, but I was already far too gone in my new lifestyle to change.
“However, along the line three events happened that made me change. One, that Malala girl, who was shot by the Taliban and refused to give up in her fight for female education. Two, Leah Shuaibu who is still currently in the strongholds of Boko Haram because she refused to denounce her faith. I mean these are young people who believe in something and are willing to die for it, whilst I was just being a menace to society.’’ He paused took a deep breath and continued. ‘‘The third, was the death of Mohammed’s elder brother. Shehu fell ill with a sickness which was strange to us, but not strange to one of his old school mate who went ahead to become a doctor, and diagnosed him with H.I.V, at a glance, gave him some free medications which actually improved his health, but alas the Boko Haram menace chased the good doctor from Borno state. As a result of lack of proper medication, Shehu died, but not before begging us to change from the lifestyle he had introduced us to. He compared himself to his former classmate, the doctor, and told us that he knows if he had gotten a good education, he wouldn’t have ended the way he was about to end.
“Shehu died and this really threw me off balance. I called my elder brother in America, begged him to forgive me. He was so happy. He made arrangements for me to come over and begin a new life in U.S’’ He paused again briefly. ‘‘I called my friend Mohammed and told him about my decision, and also encouraged him to change, but he scoffed at me. Telling me, that it was easy for me, because I had a rich elder brother. Well, in no time I went to the U.S, became a doctor. Eventually, built my own hospital and created a foundation to take as many kids off the streets, to school. And it is in line with this vision that I visit Borno state regularly. In one of my visits, I saw on the news that they had finally shot down the leader of a notorious gang. When I found out it was Mohammed, I rushed to the hospital to see him, he was barely conscious but he recognized me and whispered the words that I would never forget, he even quoted the famous words of Victor Hugo . He said, and I quote him ‘You made the right decision Hassan, truly he who opens a school door, closes a prison. And stops untimely, and unnecessary death. Get the kids off the street as you are already doing. You are depopulating the prison house’. Immediately he said that, he gave up the ghost.
“And that’s why if you come to any of our offices you see the words of Victor Hugo boldly written on our wall. ‘He who opens a school door, closes a prison’. He looked into the camera ‘‘I would like to end my story by thanking my family, especially my elder brother for not giving up on me. My beautiful wife for being part of this vision and my foreign partners for partnering with me to get as many kids off the streets to school. My life would have ended like Mohammed’s or I would have been lavishing in jail, but life gave me a second chance and I’m eternally grateful’’
The interview came to an end and there was a standing ovation amidst a thunderous applause.