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I used to see women sitting on bare floor to be attended to in hospital —Veronica Itiku, Corps member who renovated Health Centre

Veronica Itiku

By Wole Mosadomi, Minna

The attitude of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members to primary assignment differs.

While some have the zeal to leave a mark at the end of the primary assignment in their states of call up, many are only concerned about just passing through the mandatory one year national deployment.

Though before she was posted to Niger State, Veronica O Itiku (3092) NYSC 2017 Batch A, Stream 2 had no particular project to embark upon in mind, she was later inspired by the motivational messages and lectures she heard during orientation camp which mostly centred on the need to be impactful on the community her batch members may find themselves.

Veronica was posted to Bosso Local Government Area of Niger and served at the Library Service Department of the Federal University of Technology, Minna, during which she conceived an idea and gradually executed it within the one year service.

Many lectures are organised for NYSC members at the orientation camp during which influential people from the society are invited to speak on different topics.

The First Lady of the state, Amina Sani Bello, a medical doctor, was one of such guests invited to address the Corps members during which Veronica was motivated to embark on her own project.

In an interview with our correspondent, Veronica said, “When Dr Amina Sani Bello came to address us while we were in camp, she encouraged us to turn around Nigeria and Niger State by playing a positive role in any community we were eventually posted to.

“She also encouraged us that since we are all praying for positive change, the positive change should, as well, start from us by making an impact on any Nigerian close to us by way of embarking on projects that would have direct bearing on the people especially rural dwellers”.

She added that besides the First Lady’s motivational talk, the Niger State Coordinator of the National Youth Service Corps, Mrs. Theresa Ibukun Arokoyo, was always encouraging Corps members to play a positive role in the area of primary assignment and leave a mark behind after service and that the inspirational talks sank into her mind and she started thinking of what to do.

The permanent site of the Federal University of Technology, Minna is located in Gidan Kwano is a fast growing community with a population of about 3, 000 residents.

Veronica decided to live within the community, mingle with the students who form the bulk of the residents and also interact freely with the Gidan Kwano community members.

“On my way to campus every day, I used to see women sitting on bare floor outside the only Primary Health Care Centre in the community, helpless and without quality medical attention and I became agitated and I finally concluded that I had to step in to rescue the situation”, she stated.

“I was a little bit discouraged when I eventually made up my mind to start the renovation of the Health Centre because the workers there never expected anything good coming from me, especially being a Corps member and since many people of like mind had visited the same project with the aim of renovating it but failed. So I was not given a chance or cooperation; nonetheless, I remained resolute towards accomplishing my mission”.

She said her watchword since she took over the challenge was, “If the people of Niger State are healthy, then the people, including me, will also be wealthy”.

Centre before renovation

Before Veronica intervened, the health centre was housed by a dilapidated building of three rooms with leaking roof and no toilet.

“I was always moved whenever I passed through the health centre on my way to the office and saw nursing mothers, pregnant women waiting patiently to be attended to and many of them breastfeeding their babies on bare floor and the rooms flooded by rains, and nurses on duty soaked and nowhere to administer treatment under the dilapidated building”, the Corps member said.

“Similarly, I discovered that the two beds at the facility had outlived their usefulness and overdue for replacement as no treatment could be carried out on the beds without mattresses. Worse still, there was no toilet in the health centre for the staff and patients.”

Moved by all these lapses, Veronica solicited for funds from individuals, corporate bodies, among others, to carry out the humanitarian mission.

She then renovated the entire building, painted it, got the beds repaired and built two toilets for the centre to the admiration of the community members.

“One thing that gladdens my mind is the fact that within two weeks while the renovation was going on, no fewer than 12 babies were successfully delivered in my presence in the health centre as a result of the new look it was gradually wearing which I believe attracted more patients”, the Corps member remarked.

It was a day of joy as members of the Gidan Kwano community after the First Lady of Niger State, the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Professor Bala Abdullahi, represented by the Librarian of the university, Dr. Alhassan Jibril, Veronica’s father, Mr. David Olawale Itiku, the state Coordinator of the NYSC, Arokoyo, the community leader of Gidan Kwano and other well-wishers stormed the venue for the commissioning of the project.

The First Lady, represented by the wife of the Chairman of Bosso Local Government Area, Mrs. Isah Wokili, promised to donate mattresses and pillows to the renovated health centre.

Veronica’s father described her daughter as a promising child, adding that he was not surprised at the success story as the trait had been in her since her childhood.

“Veronica is the last born of four children. The three other sisters reside in London. Iam not surprised at her success story because the zeal had been in her since childhood and I want her to remain in Nigeria preferably in Niger State at least to take care of home for us and help in nation-building,” Mr Itiku said.

Veronica, who was overwhelmed with joy with what she saw, burst into tears of joy.

“I return all glory to God for giving me this opportunity to conceive, start and complete this project which gulped over N600, 000, and to also witness the inauguration, with pomp, and eminent personalities in attendance”, the Corps member said.

When asked of her next mission and whether she had received any commendation from government or any organization concerning the project, Veronica said, “What I have got so far from people and organizations are letters of commendation but I know this is the beginning of my success story as I intend to float or join a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) to further actualise my dream of helping humanity.”

 

 


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