Wednesday, April 1, 2026
The story of Ibrahim Gaskia is a perfect example of the efficacy and viability of the “Nigerian Dream.” Born into a family of farmers in the Debiro village of Borno state, young Ibrahim grew up in abject poverty, self-sustenance and economic responsibility to his family - even as a child.
In those days, a child a five years was already involved in rigorous farming tasks in the north or hawking on the streets of Onitcha and Lagos to contribute his/her quota to the family’s upkeep. For majority, profits made from sales made by every member of the family could barely cater for feeding, housing and clothing, let alone the education of the children.
Up until the age of 23, the Borno state Commissioner for Information only had a 5% probability of crossing the poverty line – based on a generic assessment that used his family background and environment as the major yardsticks. On closer examination, however, bringing Gaskia’s education and self-esteem as at age 23 into the equation, he had only 0.5% probability of becoming a middle income earner.
His story, like that of many others in his category, began to change in 2016 when at a Young Leadership Summit organized for the victims of insurgency by Victim Support Foundation (VSF), a speaker made him realize he was born to lead.
According to Gaskia, “Before then, I never believed we all could become whatever we wanted to be in life. I thought some were born leaders while others were born to serve them. In the training, we were told that leadership is simply being able to influence others through service. After the training, I started developing my leadership skills. I would deliberately listen to children of the big farmers and traditional rulers in my village to know what was bothering them. Then, I would boldly suggest solutions to them because I already believed I was a leader. Before long, they started respecting and looking up to me.
“That felt great. I didn’t want to lose that achievement; so, I told myself I must take my academics seriously – as we had been taught. I started reading. The more I read, the more intelligent and important I felt. Fortunately, this happened at a time when our education sector was being revamped. So I went back to school and was properly groomed.
“And not only me; many of the people I grew up with saw something to live for. The future was bright. A lot was spent on reorientation, and it paid off. I could have ended up being a terrorist, because I was already developing hatred for the government then.”
Like Gaskia, many Nigerians of his generation benefited from the different forward-looking programmes and policies initiated or encouraged by the government.
In the “Social Psychology” section of the demographic report published last month by the National Population Commission, the “hope of a bright future” contributed 83% to the achievement of 50% drop in poverty level within 6 years.
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