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A tale from the street

Source: huhuonline.com
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The story of Saeed is not uncommon in our society.   He plunged into this wild world at a tender age; he started exchanging jobs when many of his age-mates were busy playing games and stealing their parents' wealth. Not deterred by the apparent

 disadvantages, he worked hard to finance his own education to the university level. He graduated at the top of his class with two university prizes. He never got a scholarship award throughout his stay in the ivory tower but he endured as a tailor. With a gross domestic product (purchasing power parity) of $369.8 billion (2010 est.) and 70 % of Nigerians living below poverty line, the wealthiest 10% accounts for 32.4% of the total household income while the poorest 10% accounts for just 2%. This illustrates the great disparity that exists in the country; the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.

There are many brains rotting in the dungeon of nonentity since they cannot attend a citadel of learning. While equal distribution of wealth is not expected, suitable arrangement must be made by all stakeholders to cater for the economic disadvantaged segment of our society to benefit from the basic services like education, health, security etc.

Organizations should see it as part of their corporate social responsibilities to provide for the need of these people. Indigent relief fund can be instituted and the present scholarship system reviewed. A reality check has shown that the children of the rich have strategic advantages over the underprivileged kids who are in dire need of these financial supports. Most of them attended private schools where distinction grades are guaranteed by all means possible. They have private tutors, textbooks, access to online materials and they don't need to work while in school. By and large, you don't expect the needy student who survives on menial job to contend with kids given everything to make good grades even if they are not the finest brains.

Despite these facts, the rich kids may not be deprived of benefiting from scholarship awards but an indigent relief fund will cater specifically for the indigent students and the nuts and bolts will differ from a scholarship's requisites.

The endowment should be planned to pay for the benefiting students' fees and assure a monthly stipend. I believe this will encourage them to stay more in class and work harder for better grades. This is better than giving them the total sum at once which may be squandered on frivolities thereby defeating the purpose of the award. A better grade may be a prerequisite for renewal of the award.

Our wealthy individuals can pledge a part of their wealth to establish foundations. We don't need to wait for a hurricane to know that hard-up living conditions in any Nigerian city make us all poorer. We don't need to wait for the next abduction of another mother in Niger Delta to make us realize that generation without proper education and empowerment put all of our families in danger. The current state of insecurity will not improve until the youth are encouraged and supported irrespective of family income or social standing.

I quote the statement of Andrew Carnegie, one of the richest men in modern history, 'Money can only be the useful drudge of things immeasurably higher than itself. Exalted beyond this, as it sometimes is, it remains Caliban still and still plays the beast. My aspirations take a higher flight. Mine be it to have contributed to the enlightenment and the joys of the mind, to the things of the spirit, to all that tends to bring into the lives of the toilers of Pittsburgh sweetness and light. I hold this the noblest possible use of wealth.' Carnegie died on 11 August 1919 in Lenox, Massachusetts http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenox,_Massachusetts . He had already given away $350,695,653 (approximately $4.3 billion, adjusted to 2005 figures) of his wealth and at his death, his last $30,000,000 was given to foundations, charities, and to pensioners.

John D. Rockefeller provided major funding for a college in Atlanta for African-American women, which became Spelman College . He also gave $80 million to the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Chicago University of Chicago turning a small Baptist college into a world-class institution by 1900. He established the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Education_Board General Education Board http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spelman_College in 1903 to promote education at all levels everywhere in the country and provided financial support to such established institutions as Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Brown, Bryn Mawr, Wellesley and Vassar.

Warren Buffett , the sage of Omaha, donated $31 billion to the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_and_Melinda_Gates_Foundation Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_Buffett . Our rich men can emulate such generosities and we are sure they won't need the stacked up wealth in the hereafter. While they may not be hauled over the coals for spending millions on a child annually, it is pertinent they don't forget the millions who live in this country but do not have access to basic necessities of life, not because they are not making every effort other than that the resources were never meant to be distributed evenly.

Organizations should work with school authorities to check a student collecting more than one scholarship thereby preventing other equally qualified students from benefitting plus delinquent students must be punished.

We must work with a conviction that we are allied as one people. If there's a child in the creeks of Bayelsa who can't read, it should worry all of us. If there's a senior citizen on the streets of Kano who has to choose between paying rent and his kids' school fees, that makes our existence poorer, even if he's not my tribesman. It's this fundamental belief that can make this country progress. The potency of our synergy is mightier than our individualities as this allows us to pursue our personal dreams, yet still come together as one.

Muhammad Balogun sent this piece from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria through