Salome Jankada is a two time minister of the federal republic of Nigeria. She is a strong advocate of youth and women empowerment, a gesture that has won her many accolades. She is also a crusader against injustice against the poor and vulnerable in the society. She spoke with MICHAEL OCHE on her life and desire for a better Nigeria
Dr Salome Jankada began her life in a small community in Donga Local Government Area of Taraba state. She said her experience in those ‘good old days’ taught her to be compassionate about helping the less privileged in the society.
At a time when women from northern part of the country were forced into early marriage, her parents saw the necessity of sending her to school. Today, that singular decision has changed her life.
In 1974, she started her nursing education at the University of Jos teaching hospital, Plateau state.
She says her passion to join the nursing profession was borne out of their care and patience for their patients.
She says, “I decided to become a nurse because those days we always admire nurses with their clean white dress and cap. I also like the way they are patient with their patients. It showed compassion and it was a trait I always had.”
Salome will be quick to tell you that education is the bedrock of any prosperous society – a belief that has seen her invest in scholarship programme for young Students from her home state, Taraba.
She shares the belief that Nigeria is a country richly blessed but the greed amongst a few has set the country backward. Those who know her closely will also tell you about her dislike for greedy fellow and power mongers.
She says, “Most people in Abuja don’t know what poverty is. If you travel to the rural areas, you will see what most of our people go through to survive. Yet, this country is so blessed with rich human and natural resources; it is just the greed. Some people have developed the habit of pocketing the money meant for the good of the larger population into their private purse.
“I have been a grassroots person all my life. This has made me to appreciate the situation of our people. This is why I always like to stand up against injustice. I believe this country is abundantly blessed. People don’t have to struggle to eat in this country. When I see people suffer because of the injustice they suffer, I also like to speak out.”
Her experience in both the private and public sector has made her an advocate of justice.
Described as a woman with a heart of lion, Salome is never afraid of speaking her mind, despite the opposition. In 2003, she became the first woman to contest for the gubernatorial election in Taraba state.
Though she lost the election, Salome said her experience during the campaign tour taught her a lot.
“It was a privilege to have contested for that post. During the campaign, I saw the poverty in our rural communities and I was moved. Since then, I have made it a point of duty to always travel home and donate to the less privileged in our society,” she says.
In 2006, during the administration of former president OlusegunObasanjo, she was appointed minister of state for water resources. In 2007, she was appointed as minister of youths and social development. After her meritorious service to the nation, she was honoured with the award of Order Of the Niger (OON).
At various times, she was lecturer school of nursing and midwifery, Yola; executive member, Independent Corrupt Practices And other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); federal board member of Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC).
She has served as member of advisory committee on better life programme; member, sub-committee on presidential policy advisory committee for women and youths; member, state primary education board (SPEB); president, National Council Of Women Society (NCWS), Taraba State Chapter; Member, FSP Board of Trustees.
She is also a recipient of many awards which include, traditional title of the Jakadiya of Kwararafa, the Nayiba of Donga land, female activist of the year by Nigeria Union of Journalist, Taraba state.
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