Miss Ikheloa Ekpen Salamatu, a final year Banking & Finance student of the University of Lagos, is the Charter President of Inner-Wheel Club of Alausa, one of the two new generation clubs recently set up in Lagos by Inner-Wheel District 911 Nigeria. She spoke to Vista Woman on her plans for her tenure and highlighted some major issues bedeviling young people in Nigeria.  Her words:

About Inner-Wheel
Inner-Wheel is a not-for-profit service-oriented organization aimed at making life easier for disadvantaged people . The organization is made up of wives and relatives of Rotarians because it is actually a sister body to Rotary.

International Inner Wheel is most probably the largest women’s voluntary service organisation in the world. Since its inception in 1924, Inner Wheel has continued to grow as new clubs spring up  in many countries across the world.

Ekpen Salamatu

Currently we have more than 100,000 members in over 101 countries and geographical locations. Inner Wheel is out to serve those less fortunate than ourselves – the vulnerable, young people and the elderly – both at home and in other developing countries. This is given in many ways from general long term support to providing goods, funds and practical ‘hands on’ help in emergencies and disaster.

I’ve always been in Inner Wheel since I was small; my mother is an Inner-Wheel member and my father is a Rotarian. So, they’ve always instilled in us the passion for service. Thus, when the opportunity came for me to serve, I didn’t want to miss it because it’s what I’ve always wanted to do- serve humanity.  Service to humanity is simply helping the less privileged to do things that they may not be able to do for themselves on a normal day; help them, carry them along and make them feel among.

Mapped out activities
One of the projects set aside for my tenure is the gift of sight.  My executives and I have decided to conduct a free eye screening exercise and then provide free glasses to those who will need them. We will also do a campaign on breast and cervical cancer awareness because it has been discovered that early diagnosis is the sole remedy to breast cancer.

To enable us actualize these projects, we will solicit for sponsorship from organizations and individuals.
The spirit of service

I think we need to grow in us the spirit of service to humanity if Nigeria must move forward. Too many people are suffering in this country. Go to Oshodi and you’ll see boys ‘Agberos’ collecting money from people.

If the economy was good, I don’t think they will be on the street looking for twenty naira to extort from people; they would be having good jobs and be able to survive without engaging in demeaning activities. But because of the bad economy and then corruption which has eaten deep into the system, thereby depriving of us good leadership, poverty crisis has continued to bedevil our country to the extent that poorer nations like Ghana, Kenya, Angola, etc. are growing faster than we are. China also which used to be very poor has grown enviably well.
One major problem facing young people is unemployment; you find young people roaming the streets three, four, five years after leaving school, and having to live  from hand to mouth. I think the government should try to make jobs available for young graduates. They should create more job opportunities and stop allowing companies to subtly reject us with their demand for work experience.

In terms of education, our government is trying but I feel they should put in more effort. I mean, the situation is repulsive; the school system is bad, hostels are bad, classrooms are bad, facilities and teaching aids are lacking! Even libraries are bad!

Keys to salvaging Nigeria
To make Nigeria a better place in future, I implore that young people grow in themselves the desire to serve, especially service to humanity. You can do that by looking around yourself and your community; that’s a good step to gingering your desire to succeed in life because it could get you provoked to doing meaningful things.

Simply try to pinpoint what is wrong with your community and what is posing a major challenge to those within your environment.  I believe young people are a major instrument of change. People accuse young people of  not being serious but I don’t accept that. I am young, and I can categorically say that a lot of young people are determined but have no helper. Some gain admission but cannot pay their school fees or buy textbooks.

Some lecturers even escalate the situation by sexually harassing them! They have nobody to support or encourage them.

Looking at the caliber of young people we have in this country,if only government would take advantage of our determination for success, I will say there is hope for Nigeria. If government can work on the school system and create more job opportunities, people will be more determined to go to school and also to remain in Nigeria rather than go abroad in search of greener pastures.

I hail from Edo State. I attended the Federal Airport Authority Staff School in Lagos, and then I went to Federal Government Girls College in Abuja. In 2006, I gained admission to the University of Lagos where I currently am’.

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