NYSC: IN PURSUIT OF IDENTITY AND PURPOSE [Part 1]

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I am of the opinion that the NYSC should not be scrapped. However, for the sake of balance and discussion, I will also highlight reasons why there have been calls for it to be scrapped. I was commissioned by a friend – Toyosi Ukpong – to write a piece on the NYSC, with the outlook being that it – the NYSC – was ultimately ruinous to both the economy and to the corps member.

This friend was particularly vehement about her convictions, which is understandable given the deplorable state of affairs Nigeria is in at present. She hadn’t “served” her nation yet and she believed that the country doesn’t even deserve to be served for starters, among other things. I had been through youth service, in two different states, and you could tell by our arguments who was feeding off handed-down info and who wasn’t.

I have chosen to discuss this issue from a personal point of view because I believe my experience during youth service covered all the bases – the good and the bad. If I had had my way, I wouldn’t have been in Kogi for five months. I would have started service in Lagos as I eventually finished it. The primary reason for this was personal advancement, I’ll admit. This is essentially what the problem of Nigeria is.

I have done a lot of reading on the political history of Nigeria and the conclusion is obvious: Nigeria is what it is today because people in the position to serve chose to serve self over community. The union called Nigeria had been booby-trapped with political problems from the outset – 1914 – to ease governance from the outset.

The good readers among you may have come across the term divide-and-rule. If you haven’t, oil the rusty hinges of your brain and get reading. Nigeria attained independence, and from then on, many of our political leaders sought to enrich self with power and wealth, the needs of the country coming a distant second on their scales of preference. Today, the notion of service is skewed.

Being in Kogi for those five months changed things for me, because I try to learn from situations. The country does deserve to be served. For me, Nigeria is not its gormless leaders.

For me, Nigeria became those kids in Kogi that needed direction. Many of those kids couldn’t read or write to save their lives. Many of those kids were being afflicted by disease because they lacked basic knowledge. I volunteered as a Peer Education Trainer and I tried as much as possible to impart some knowledge, along with two other corps members, using personal resources.

I left before the seeds we were planting began to germinate but I kept in touch and I was happy our objectives were met, though it is naïve to think that the abstinence we preached would have been adhered to.

Because I was posted to the Ministry of Health in Kogi, I, and some others, had also been co-opted into the Primary Health Care programme through which we were going to help bring development into the locale. There are corps members that do even far more for the communities in which they find themselves.

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To Be Continued….

 

Written By | By Kayode Faniyi

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23 comments

  1. U are yet to touch the touchy issues, and as such, there really isn’t much to say. Yes Nigeria needs to be served, bt u cannot get anytin out of people when u force them into doing anytin, persuasion is the key…
    Waiting on the rest soon.

  2. I don’t believe the nysc can be satisfactorily rebranded cos rebranding would require that the “rebranders” actually put themselves in the average corper’s shoes.
    I’m currently servin in a Govt. Sec.School in Lagos. In 9 months time, I would be a stale graduate with no work experience entering the work force 2years late because of asuu strike and a service scheme that belittled my qualifications as a graduate and cost me and my parents more than it served anyone, with the exception of our (generally) short-sighted and mini-brained political leaders.
    Don’t get me wrong, Nigeria does deserve to be served. But individual circumstances differ; and as such, serving my nation should be a choice and not by force.

  3. I believe that while NYSC affords young graduates the opportunity to serve our nation and maybe make a change, the politics in Nigeria make it difficult. Imagine a situation where graduates are posted to offices where they are not needed. They are forced to come to work everyday just to wash their plates for the workers. Is that what they spent years in school for? I go to work everyday just to sit and wait for it to be 2pm so I can go home. It is a big shame.

  4. @Folagbemi this is exactly what he is talking about. I totally agree with you as regards service in itself being skewed, Nigerians need to stop pointing fingers and use their hands to help out. I mean it’s basic the only reasons why developed countries WORK is simply because of the fact that the citizens of these countries feel like they are part of something…….okay they are white right……Lagos is the perfect example, we all know Lagos is the only state in Nigeria that isn’t a failing state……why because you know that lagosians feel like lagosians they feel like they are part of something, until you have such in Nigeria as a nation, we will continue to fail and we were on the brink of that during the Occupy Nigeria protests but as usual fear of the unknown took over…..but if we all felt like we were part of something or that thing was ours we’ll have fought harder……..all these rambles brings me back to NYSC service is a positive move for Nigerian graduates……it mixes experiences brings diversity to each individual corper and state…….I’m not saying there aren’t service years that aren’t impactful but in all honesty whoever has that experienced either never tried or was chasing money

  5. I’m going to sway towards Ope’s opinions here. True,Nigeria does not need to be served and we can argue that she is separate from her corrupt and insensitive leaders. But that arguement is,from the outset,already flawed. How do you separate a sick patient surviving on the oxygen he is being artificially given without him giving up a fight(no matter how feeble)? And suffice it to say that these ones will give anything to continue to survive on that oxygen… till the cylinder gets empty.

  6. ope and Bimbo ask to be transferred to a secondary school or something because that would be fun and it would be a way of impacting your environment and seeing life with a different light……95% of the people who have corporate jobs or wait I pulled that stat from the numerous people I know and have jobs, so going and working with some company where you are needed as the blog says serve the country not self at the end of the day you’ll be happy you met Lil kids who you know will remember you forever. One thing I forgot to add is that most humans never live……..they all just exist…….you follow the foot steps of others being too scared to follow your honest dreams whether because of the fear of failure or the fear that your parents would think that you are a waste of investment but really look within yourselves and find out what you really want to do…….service year is the platform for that follow your dreams small scale from there you’ll blossom I assure you.

  7. ope and Bimbo ask to be transferred to a secondary school or something because that would be fun and it would be a way of impacting your environment and seeing life with a different light……95% of the people who have corporate jobs or wait I pulled that stat from the numerous people I know and have jobs, so going and working with some company where you are needed as the blog says serve the country not self at the end of the day you’ll be happy you met Lil kids who you know will remember you forever. One thing I forgot to add is that most humans never live……..they all just exist…….you follow the foot steps of others being too scared to follow your honest dreams whether because of the fear of failure or the fear that your parents would think that you are a waste of investment but really look within yourselves and find out what you really want to do…….service year is the platform for that follow your dreams small scale from there you’ll blossom I assure you.

  8. Apparently the failing or failed NYSC is not a ‘stand-alone something’ but a microcosm of the appalling Nigerian situation, hence, calling for the scrap is simply advocating for the scrap of every failing or failed institution of the Nigerian government which we all know there’s not a single institution of government functioning well.
    You don’t start building a house from the roof, you start from the foundation.

  9. Interestingly, I disagree with ur very first premise. Nigeria as a country wasn’t ‘booby-trapped’, and it wasn’t until recently that our leaders started self serving. The point is, there is absolutely no point for/in NYSC, it is a mammoth waste of precious days. However, I’m deeply interested in where this discussion leads.

  10. This is such an awesome read…I’m servin’ in a school also,in a somewhat backward state…though I hated it at first,but now,I’m grateful for the opportunity to make a difference…there is nothing as gratifying as seeing a JS2 student who can’t even spell/pronounce d simplest words read his own essay (50 word,though) infront of the whole class,because you believed in him and was there with him to make that journey.NYSC might not be ‘all that’,but I’m of the opinion that we should embrace the little it offers. Moreover,a lot of people will be disillusioned as to what to do if they were just thrown into the labour market immediately after school,so that time could also be used for self-discovery,etc…..instead of choosing the obvious path of ‘searching for a job’.Inshort,I love it,I’m loving it and I’m grateful for it.

  11. Am of d opinion that the mandatory NYSC program is just a waste. I mean,how has taking care of malnourished children bettered my lot? They have local Goverment chairmen who chose to do nothing about their predicament. Why should I suffer for their inactions?. This same country we are serving doesn’t care one bit about us. No employment, no infrastructural facilities.. Nothing for the youths and yet my parents pay tax. To be honest, its not only a waste of time we don’t have, its a forced slavery to a non chalant, greedy and clueless govt.

  12. Like you said its the good and the bad. Well there is the ugly too! I served in a place where there was no structure and even when you try setting one, you just get frustrated! But the good of the whole thing is when you see students, even those you’re not teaching, appreciate you in ways that goes beyond words. The bad is our fellow youths and NYSC officials who are just too damned corrupt! I can go on and on……….. But I’ll let Kayode finish up! Thumbs up bro!

  13. Ok( am writing this with my phone so, bare with me here) here are my sentiments. I spent some of my elementary school days in nigeria, then came to the usa. What i learned here is the purpose of community and working together. I know in middle school to graduate, and as with highschool and university certain amount of community service hours, where you volunteer up to 120+ of your time helping make your community better and you dont get paid for it, nor get a stipend was a must. I believe if nigeria government made it compulsory that each school in nigeria require their students to help within their community as part of graduation requirements in middle school, highschool and definitely college. Also if such initiatives such as after school programs and things like girl/boy scouts are created that will teach children more tolerance than this stupid nysc. I believe its a waste of time, and I dread the fact that i am told repeatedly that if i want to work in nigeria, especially for the government that i must do youth service.. I beg, una dey craze… who am i servicing, the country whom its citizen have allowed tribalistic, corruption and looting to become part of their government? I believe that if our youths try our best to refuse corrupt means to getting ahead that nigeria would be better. I also hate the fact that we are ruled by all these elders , while the young innovative minds succumb to their corrupt ways. I feel that situations such as the niger delta oil spills can easily be cleaned slowly through the help of youths, maybe universities can create temporary courses that allow students to take part in cleaning it. For me Nigeria’s worst enemy is most of its corrupt greedy elders in government. The fact that till today nigeria has no major library or museum that holds all nigeria’s history, and when i say all, i mean all 360 plus tribes, and not a domination of the three main ones. I believe when the nysc was created, it was done with good intentions, buts as years passed, those intentions became skewed to nothing but perfect corruption. There is a proverb that says .”Bi iso iya o ba run, o ye ki ti omo o le ta sansan..” It translates to basically, let us do that which our parents or those before us couldnt.. to me when i think of the possibilities that nigerians have i go back with the words of one of its sons, he ” said that in the three years of war, necessity gave birth to invention. During those three years, we built bombs, we built rockets, we designed and built our own delivery systems. We guided our rockets, we guided them far, and we guided them accurately. For three years, blockaded without hope of imports, we maintained engines, machines, and technical equipment. The state extracted and refined petrol, individuals refined petrol in their back gardens, we built and maintained airports, we maintained them under heavy bombardment. We spoke to the world through a telecommunications system engineered by local ingenuity. The world heard us and spoke back to us. We built armored cars and tanks. We modified aircraft from trainer to fighters, from passenger aircraft to bombers. In three years of freedom, we had broken the technological barrier. In three years, we became the most civilized; the most technologically advanced black people on earth.” To me that sums up how great and creative we can be. You see I believe as young people of nigeria our greatest fear is not dying wretched, but how can you die when you never lived to suck out all the marrows of life, and to make a mark on this earth. How do you want to be remembered. I know i want to be remembered for doing what is right and trying my best to make my native country better. It is said what an elder can see sitting down a child cannot see standing up, but i say yes an elder sees something, but are they quiet sure about what they see, i believe it is that curiosity in that child that commands the child to take a closer look and maybe just maybe what the elder saw was wrong and the child in its naive innocence sees the object for what it truly is. So My fellow nigerian youths you can sit and play the blame game, at the end, we are the losers; or you can change the future for your children by working together, not as Nigerians but as children of people who demanded independence from their colonizers, and got it. Of children of parents who struggled, sometimes even went to bed hungry just to make sure you stayed in school, had food for your stomach. You are the remains of your ancestors that ruled themselves with justice before the white man came. I believe in God, but not that which the Europeans brought to us, i believe that God that created our forefathers and gave them the wisdom to govern themselves well before the Europeans came is still alive. See if our traditional religions were still dominantly in place, none of these thieves will dear steal twice. Though NYSC was started with the right intentions, i think its about time that we look at other ways to help our country, because as we see, it is too broken and corrupted to be fixed. So i say to my fellow youths , you time is here, dont look at or believe any rubbish any politician promises, think for yourself and for once think of the future you want for your kids and the type of person you want to be remembered for.

  14. Here is my two cents opinion,NYSC is like milk that got all soiled up. A very noble and samaritarian quest that has become an emblem of time wasting,the world has moved on and so shuld we.the scheme has lost it’s purpose,it is now the govt rag to mop up it’s mess. Wear Ur uniform and walk in the street,U wuld grab the real gist here.
    Even after school and the service year,the economic machines out there still call graduates “inexperienced communities” the scheme is supposed to aid transition,but it is more of a social drain now. Don’t rebrand,scrap it straight up

  15. Who says that if it’s scrapped most youth won’t still waste away……NYSC should be a way to get to know yourself……better for those who already do and know exactly where you want your life to go, you can try anything out but all young people nowadays want money on the go and end up wasting their time……..don’t even blame the government cuz we would all do worse if we were put there with this self-serving mentality

  16. We can argue from now till infinity, these old hags and morons will remain to eat off our heads. Nigeria is fundamentally corrupt, and heading towards becoming a failed state, the problem is not the nysc itself but this crop of hagged vultures, from the Jonathans to the Buharis to the tinubu’s. I am not an advocate for diplomacy or illusory peaceful resolutions. There is one path to take, every single one of them should pay with their blood. Remember they have sons who will take over from their corrupt fathers, and continue the circle of corruption. The Nysc is merely one of the heads on the Hydra. Kill the beast itslf. Make we sef get youth Boko haram, bomb all this mad people

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