Abubakar Widi-Jalo is a philanthropist many people in Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi and even Lagos have come to love. The University of Maiduguri graduate warmed his way into the hearts of many by sinking a number of boreholes in some communities in Kano. Abubakar, through social media, raised more than N8m in twelve days for 32 boreholes, as well as over N16m for food distribution. He speaks to Daily Trust Saturday on his activities so far.

Daily Trust: You have been described by many as a hero. What drives your passion as a humanitarian?

Abubakar Widi-Jalo: Well, I don’t see myself as a hero; I see myself as a human being trying to do the little bit I can. As citizens of this great nation, we all owe it a duty to give back to the society the little we can.

DT: Water, they say, is the essence of life. How did you feel about being able to provide this basic necessity for people?

Widi-Jalo: Water is a basic necessity for people, we started with the distribution of bags of water and then bottled water. We continued with outreach to areas that lack water totally. We started taking water tankers to areas like Brigade, Sabon Gari, Kofar Kudu in Kano State. In the course of doing this, we came across a community called Yar’Gaya Ward under Dawakin Kudu local government. There, we found five villages namely; Naira, Kanwa, Madaran Manyan Mata, Launawar Yar’Gaya and Audunawa. They do not have water at all, they depend on a pond, which is shared with animals. I wrote a story about the area on my Facebook page and the response was very good. That was how the borehole project started.

DT: You raised N8m for 32 boreholes in 12 days and N16.9m for food distribution. How did you see the response of Nigerians towards this cause?

Widi-Jalo: Nigerians are very resilient, very patient and very kind people, their response to the fund raising is amazing. Nigerians are their brother’s keeper and I am proud to be a Nigerian.

Generally, we are doing two drives at the same time – the food and water project. For the food drive, we have raised up to N16, 900, 000. How we know this is that each time we raise funds and get foods, we count the food in parcels. So far, we have done 3390 food parcels and each food parcel cost N5000.

A completed borehole at Rigasa Kaduna State.
A completed borehole at Rigasa Kaduna State.

For the water project, we benchmarked each borehole at N250 000 plus or minus and we have raised funds for 27 boreholes so far. We raised N8, 000, 000 in 12 days for boreholes. Altogether, we have raised N23 650 000 in one month. So far, we have executed eleven borehole projects; three in Jigawa, five in Kano, two in Kaduna, one in Lagos, one in Katsina and one in Bauchi. We have eleven other ongoing borehole projects.

Digging a borehole varies, it depends on the surface and the area. Some places in Kano like Nassarawa and Sokoto road, have rocky surfaces so it is very difficult and expensive to drill in those areas because you have to use heavy machinery.

DT: How do you source for funds; what are your secrets to fund raising?

Widi-Jalo: Basically, I source for funds through my Facebook page, we ask for donations, and people donate from N500 to N1000, N10 000, N100 000 and even as much as N1 000 000 000.

My secret to fund raising is transparency. Once people are confident that you are transparent and very accountable, people will trust and donate money for whatever course you ask for. In my case, I ask for donations and as soon as donations come, I do a daily update on the donations received. I also do an update of the expenditure of how the funds are being spent and also a daily update of the balance of the funds we have. I think being accountable is largely responsible for the way people respond to your request for donations.

DT: Many of the activities you are involved in are activities that the Kano State government should be doing. How does the government react to your work, have they reached out to you in any way?

An ongoing project at Dangouro village, Kumbotso Local Government, Kano
An ongoing project at Dangouro village, Kumbotso Local Government, Kano

Widi-Jalo: I believe basic amenities like water should be adequately provided by the government because it is a basic need of every citizen. I am not the spokesperson for the Kano State government so I cannot speak on their behalf concerning that issue. But other NGOs and well-meaning Nigerians have reached out to me. In fact, we are in a partnership with a Foundation called Gatan Marayu. We raise funds together, buy the foodstuff together, but do the distribution separately. All the members of Gatan Marayu are foreigners, Germans, Indians and Lebanese. We found common grounds because we have a common passion.

DT: What does it take to convince people to key into your ideas and how difficult is it?

Widi-Jalo: Transparency and honesty get people to key into your idea. People want to be part of an honest project. The difficult part is that we know what this lockdown has caused financially. Some people are willing to key in but are restrained financially. People are not able to contribute their quota due to some circumstances beyond their control.

DT: How do you feel being able to touch souls with simple fund-raising?

Widi-Jalo: Well, it’s fulfilling to see that you are making people’s lives a little bit better and you’re putting smiles on people’s faces.

DT: What has been your most cherished moment in the whole experience, so far?

Widi-Jalo: My most cherished moment so far was when we went to distribute food in Gakata. We encountered a widow catering for fourteen children all by herself. I shared that story on my Facebook wall and people responded. We were able to raise N200 000 within twenty-four hours; so that really touched her life and also touched us.

DT: Why do you choose a public patterned strategy in your foundation?

Widi-Jalo: We do it publicly because we receive money from the public. If you receive money from the public, you are to account for the money; it’s all about accountability so that’s why we do it publicly.

 Abubakar Widi-Jalo
Abubakar Widi-Jalo

DT: What was the passion behind starting the palliative drive for the people of Kano?

Widi-Jalo: The passion for this project was born out of the need to help people because of the lockdown. This means that 80 per cent of people who rely on daily income will be locked down alongside their businesses. People will run out of food and money, hence an intervention like this becomes necessary. I and some other people came together and started.

DT: What is the mainstay of your foundation’s activities?

Widi-Jalo: Widi-Jalo foundation is a Non-profit and a Non-political organization, our drive is to help the needy and the vulnerable in society.

DT: Of all your programmes, which do you find most fulfilling?

Widi-Jalo: It is the water project because it is everlasting. When you give somebody food today, it could finish tomorrow. But when you drill a borehole for a community, it could be used for a lifetime.

DT: Your operation is broad-based. What does it cost to run on a daily basis?

Widi-Jalo: The cost of running my daily operation is my dedication and sacrifice because it cannot be quantified in monetary terms.

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