Last Saturday, Salem University, Lokoja, held its fourth convocation ceremony, which provided an opportunity for ex-students to share how values learnt in the institution have been guiding them through their current endeavours.
Precious Oyem was really in a fix. Agents and chieftains of political parties asked him to name his price. As a member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), he was hired by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to serve as an electoral officer.
At stake was a vacant House of Assembly slot in one of the states. Though the results had been declared, he was being pressured to allow them thumbprint to serve as evidence at the tribunal. He knew he wasn’t going to be part of such insidious, unpatriotic act.
But then, many of his other colleagues had cooperated. Refusing the offer will not only endanger his life but also pit him against powerful forces. To accede to the inducing offer would go against his personal convictions and principles. It was more like choosing between the devil and the deep blue sea. He remembered all he learnt while on campus. “Integrity as a core value in Salem University really taught me that smartness can take a man to the top, only integrity can keep you there,” he recalled to an audience of graduating students, parents and other stakeholders of Salem University, Lokoja recently.
The audience applauded in appreciation of his courage. But the courage was not always there. It was learnt at the institution, Oyem stated. “In Salem, you are told to say no when necessary. Saying no does not mean you a bad person. It only reinforces your convictions,” he said. “That was what I did. I told them I would not do it,” he added.
Such stance, considered a hard one, by the vested political interests almost landed him in trouble.
A mob attacked him with two of his colleagues. But they escaped with whiskers. He had justified his four-year study in the school. He had refused to join the bandwagon effect. The 2013 graduate of International Relations and Diplomacy said the school equipped him for such life-defining moments. “It was not just a university, but a birthing ground for greatness and positive impact. Salem University did more than offer a world-class education; it offered me the space to grow as an individual (mentally and spiritually), to try new things and meet interesting people.”
Samuel Ilokameje suffered greatly from inferiority complex. Despite having his National Diploma from one of the prominent polytechnics in the country, he still thought lowly of himself. In 2013, he joined Salem University through direct entry in Accounting. He couldn’t express himself freely or engage in-group works. He was a loner and terrible recluse. But in less than a session, the complex that dealt harshly with him was gone. It wasn’t automatic though. According to him, it came through constant exposure to Total Leadership Training Concept (TLTC) courses in the institution. “As time passed on, I was able to overcome inferiority complex and began to socialise.” Today, the NYSC member in Abuja owns a fish farm. The business emanated from the entrepreneurial classes he took while in school.
Ruth Tims-Ejiga, the current Graduate Assistant at the institution really lived up to her billing as a global leader while serving. The 2012 Peace and Development Studies graduate was appalled most of her fellow NYSC members were obsessed with bribery. They would always bribe their way out of troubles every time. She realised it was due to the background and experiences in their respective institutions.
She decided the value of integrity taught by Salem University must be shared with them. In less than three months, she had won them over. Chancellor of the institution, Archbishop Sam Amaga, said the school was founded to raise global leaders who can stand the test of time wherever they are. “We have chosen to make our students succeed. Whatever it will cost us to do it is insignificant. We will stop at nothing to make it happen.”