Different things push one to lead an impactful life. Sometimes, it is the circumstance of one’s birth, or the jarring reality that life is not as good to others as it is to one. It could also the pain of having one’s loved one kidnapped or blown to pieces by the destructive weapon of terrorists. Such is the story of Imrana Alhaji Buba, the founder/Coordinator of the Youth Coalition Against Terrorist (YOCAT).
23 year old Buba lost two of his family members to bomb blast in Potiskum, a city in Yobe state, when he was only 15 years old. As though that was not enough trauma for a 15 year old, his best friend was kidnapped by terrorists and held in captive until the family paid a ransom of N10 million.
It was all these experiences that moved Buba to start YOCAT as a freshman at the University of Maiduguri. According to Buba, YOCAT is a volunteer-based organization in northern Nigeria, working to unite youth against violent extremism through peace education programs in schools and villages.
Since 2010 when YOCAT was establishment, it has recruited over 600 volunteers across the country. It has partnered with many local organizations in organizing peace education and skills acquisition training for young Nigerians in the north-eastern part of the country.
YOCAT, through it volunteers, has been able to preach peace, mutual respect and peaceful communal living to many young adults and teenagers in the northern region.
This great initiative has placed him before Queen. In 2016, Buba was among the recipients of Queens Young Leaders Award. A commonwealth award presented by Queen Elizabeth, at the Buckingham palace. The award recognizes exceptional millennials who are taking the lead in their communities and using their skills to transform lives.
Recalling his experience at the Buckingham palace and meeting with the Queen, Babu said; “Never in a million years would I expect to get the opportunity to enter the Buckingham palace and meet Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II personally. The most exciting moment for me was when I was receiving the award from her. A new found feeling of pride and safety flooded my body”.
Also, Buba has won the Royal Commonwealth Society’s Youth Vision Awards 2010, the Nigeria Centenary Youth Award 2014. He is a Generation Change Fellow of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), LEAP Africa SIP Fellow, and YALI West Africa Fellow.
In the next ten years, he sees YOCAT as one of the top peace building organizations in Africa. Buba is giving to promoting culture of peace and tolerance among young people.
“My advice to young people that are engage in social work is to continue to touch lives. We should always think that we were created to give out of ourselves, of our talent, of our resources. We were created to pour out to the community. And in pouring out we find ourselves being refilled.
This means we should focus more on addressing challenges within our communities no matter how minute it may appear to be, in doing so we will get respect from our community members and sometimes even global recognition” he advised.