Old Soldier: From Boys Scout Leader to an Advocate for the People

This is the story of a young man who has dedicated his life to the service of Nigerians and humanity. A perfect embodiment of the statement “with great power, comes great responsibility”.

This is not just some superhero origin story. This is the origin story of Mr Hamzat Lawal, or Hamzy, as he prefers to be addressed.

Hamzy, in his early life, attended the Model Primary School Asokoro in Abuja and served as a Boy Scout Leader. He also attended Government Secondary School Karu in Nasarawa State, where he was the coordinator of the Boys Scout. He completed his secondary education at Seta International College, Nasarawa State. Hamzy is also a graduate of the University of Abuja.

As a young graduate, he worked with various firms, including International Centre for Energy Environment and Development (ICEED). He was advocating for Nigeria’s energy needs and climate actions.

On a hot sunny day, it so happened that Hamzy had to make a journey from Abuja to Gusau and then to Bagega. By bus, the trip to Gusau is about 7hours, and temperatures could get up as high as 42degrees. From Gusau, at the time, you’d have to make an additional 8hours journey to get to Bagega. You’d have to make a three and a half hour trip to Anka from Gusau with bad roads, and from Anka to Bagega, another four and a half hour trip on a camel, a horse or a donkey.

On getting to Bagega community, what Hamzy noticed was too much; once an activist, always an activist, Hamzy, with permission from locals in the community, took photos of what he witnessed. First, there was no good water supply, lead poisoning was killing children by their numbers, and there was no internet within the community. Armed with the photographs he had taken, he took to social media (Twitter and Facebook) and started a movement with the hashtag #SaveBagega. The campaign led to the president of Nigeria at the time, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan approving a budget of 5.3million dollars to solve lead poisoning problems in Bagega and Zamfara State.

His superpowers again kicked in. Not satisfied with just a budget approval. To ensure the problems at Zamfara State are solved, Hamzy formed a non-profit organisation called “Follow the Money.” The sole goal of this organisation is to track Government and International aid spending. He ensures that the lives of community members in Bagega community and Zamfara State is improved. Today, there is a good road network from Gusau to Bagega. A journey that took 8hours now takes one and a half hours. There’s internet access in the community, healthcare facilities, and a renovated primary school.

Aside from Follow the Money, Hamzy founded a non-profit organisation tagged CODE (Connected Development) in 2012, dedicated to helping the continent achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The African Youth Charter has an age limit of 35 years. Hamzy, now 35 years old, has decided to step down from some of his current positions to give younger youths a chance to serve in those positions. Hamzy will now no longer be effecting changes from the sidelines. But he will position himself within leadership positions in Nigeria to better impact the government of Nigeria.

The saying goes, “once a soldier, always a soldier”. This is the story of Mr Hamzat Lawal.

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