From Suleiman Idris, Lagos
Africa premier carrier South African Airways (SAA) said it aims to contribute meaningfully toward the education and development of Nigerian youths through it annual essay competitions where potential future leaders will be identified.
The airline explained the education programme is among the ways it is giving back to Nigeria where it has successfully operated into from its base in Johannesburg, South Africa for two decades.
Speaking at the grand finale of the maiden edition of the Essay Competition with theme; ‘Patriotism: Making a difference as a youth’ in Lagos over the weekend, National Sales manager, SAA, Mrs. Kemi Leke-Bamtefa said the competition will hold every year, adding that it represent one of the avenue it is investing in Nigerian youths and in a place the airline’s operations had been successful in the last twenty years.
She said “It’s a South African Airways event, it is part of what we have in stock for Nigeria, we are a South African company based in Nigeria, we’ve been around for 20 years, we will be twenty years in December, we have series of activities this year, in fact this year, we have two Essay competitions. We want to be part of development in Nigeria.
I do not believe in people saying that our leaders have failed us, but I say we have failed ourselves. Part of this is impacting on the youth and making them look inwards and see how they can contribute to the development of Nigeria, this is not about Nelson Mandela or about South Africa, it is strictly about Nigeria and Nigerian youth and how we can contribute to the economy”. She told reporters.
Leke-Bamtefa said the airline plans to take the competition to Nigerian universities and orphanages, adding that aside prizes, students will take a familiarisation tour to South Africa in order to expose them to the technical side of aviation.
Coordinator of the competition and publisher of leading travel magazine in Nigeria, Travel and Business news magazine, Mr. Ewos Iroro said the decision to collaborate with SAA airline was among others to expose Nigerian future leaders to the ideals and ideologies of notable African leaders like South African born Nelson Mandela.
Miss Victory Yinka-Banjo of Princeton College, Surulere, Lagos emerged winner of the competition carting home a cheque of N100,000 among other prizes while Master Ojo Purpose Oluwapelumi from Liz International College, Giwa Oke-aro, Ogun State was second followed by Miss Halim Blessing of Princeton in third position.
Five other finalists all went home with cash and consolation prizes.
Chairman of the assessment panel and General Manager, Cooperate Communication, Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCOL), Mr. Basil Agboarumi said with such initiative, now is the time to start beaming searchlight on Nigerian youths who are supposed to be the leaders of tomorrow.
He urged Nigerian youths to be proud of their country anytime, adding that patriotism will help to make Nigeria a great place.