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.
To Be Continued….
Written By | By Kayode Faniyi