NYSC: IN PURSUIT OF IDENTITY AND PURPOSE [Part 3]

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The solution to the security is simple: do not post anyone to potential flashpoints. In these parts, the ignorant (educated and uneducated) abound. These “ignorant” possess the violent passion to match their idiocy and have caused and can cause untold pain to innocent souls. It could even be ingenious to post the indigenes of these areas back there only until they learn how to be accommodating.

If Bauchi state cannot guarantee the safety of corps members posted there, then no corps member that hails from Bauchi should be allowed to serve outside Bauchi, no matter where they have schooled. It doesn’t make any sense that you are posted to a part of the country and you remain unharmed but back in your own home state, other people that wear the same uniform as you are endangered. Call it vindictive but people have to begin to take responsibility.

The problem of corruption among NYSC officials is not very surprising. For civil servants and political office holders in Nigeria, corruption is the norm, rather than the exception. Many NYSC officials are out to make a quick dishonest buck. Many prospective corps members and corps members are out to take a dishonest shortcut. Demand meets supply.

Let it be noted that some of these corps members as students have at one point or the other paid for a favour as regards scores. That is the culture they know and they keep at it. To be candid, the problem of corruption in the NYSC cannot be solved whilst the greater Nigerian society remains morally bankrupt. Hence, this is one problem I cannot in all honesty attempt to provide a panacea for. I would have to suspend my heads in the cloud before I can offer such solutions because frankly, you and I know they won’t work. Not in today’s Nigeria.

There are very few, if any, analyses of the youth service scheme that have called out the corps members themselves. The focus is always on the failure of government and of policy direction. For me, a substantial part of the blame is to be placed at the corps member’s feet. I have stated above the role of “demand-and-supply” in the many shenanigans that pervade the scheme. My friend didn’t believe that teaching was useful experience as per future employment.

This may be true but the objective of the NYSC is not to serve as a vehicle for future employment. The youth service scheme is about service; service to a nation badly in need of service. My friend said Nigeria doesn’t deserve service. I ask; who is Nigeria – its many shameless leaders or the people? Community Development Service, one of the four cardinal programmes in the service year is anything but community service for most corps members.

The most irritating projects get commissioned and completed by corps members. Of what use is a big signboard declaring all sorts of messages when the groundwork needed to pass those messages hasn’t been done? One use I can think of immediately is that, because these signboards also carry the names of their commissioners, they are designed to immortalize people who haven’t even done enough to deserve being mortal.

When Nigerians understand the notion of service, several spheres of national life, including the NYSC, will get better and better. This is why I wholeheartedly agree with the recent policy thrust of the NYSC as regards places of primary assignment. The last recommendation Toyosi, my friend, gave was that the NYSC be made voluntary.

166500 corpers
N25000 allowee per month (as an incentive)
N4,162,500,000 per month
N24,975,000,000 per year

I’ll be the first to admit that this suggestion is intriguing. Like she said, it could reduce the cost incurred on running the NYSC. There are certainly people who feel the youth service scheme cramps their style, to use street lingo, as they could put that period to better use.

I’m not exactly sure how to counter this suggestion, but I would point back to the notion of service again. It could be argued that serving Nigeria is a thankless job, but at this level – the NYSC, the argument cannot hold much water. Technology is the note on which I’ll end this discourse. The NYSC perpetuates itself in the Stone Age by refusing to embrace technology.

Of course, these problems present NYSC officials with avenues to extort corps members, which is why they, the problems, still exist. The irony is that technology is the lasting analgesic to the headache officials have to experience to keep the system ticking over nicely.

I do not know what stories you may have heard. I do know that there is a great possibility that the story you have heard may have been embellished to strike the fear of God in you. I’ve heard NYSC and terms such as “fun” and “interesting” being used in the same sentence. Heck, I had fun while my service year lasted. Ceteris paribus, you’re due some fun in the sun when yours comes around, for those who haven’t had the pleasure of youth service yet.

On a final note, I’d like to remember all those who lost their lives whilst in service to their nation because of a few people’s crass disregard for the sanctity of human life. May your souls rest in peace and may Nature do as it sees fit to those perpetrators of crimes against humanity.

Written By | Kayode Faniyi

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5 comments

  1. This is quite a complex scenario. It weighs the govt down.check out the budget of the ministry of youths&sports development.they r just running a cycle as everything just goes back into the scheme.it weighs us(immediate graduates) down as we hear the tales of adventure while on service.one thing we must agree is that, the schemes policy has to be modified. It should be voluntary because people hit life time opportunities whilst serving.it also makes people loose out on such opportunities.many people hardly get deployed on time. They manage to secure a job & you expect them to abandon everything and attempt to start from scratch. Even if it is voluntary, what happens when the corp member gets frustrated(late allowee payment,no accommodation) and decides to quit? the scheme is in dire need of restructuring to reflect our society of today. the civil is long over.we have bigger wars at hand.

  2. no offense but i dont think your write up was useful at all, all you did was rant and tell us stories,which we are tired of hearing. You took too much time trying to sound professional and grammatically correct that you failed to make any useful point. Give us solutions and ones that will work and help nigerians and its economy. You have done the same thing our leaders do, instead of facing the main issue they run around it, until they can water down the actual story to suit them. The truth is that just like every other thing in nigeria, nysc if it is going to exist must be transperant and the students must be made to serve in their home state and chose whether to serve outside of it, and not mandated. In all honesty i believe that NYSC should be scrapped and that maybe we can borrow the idea of community service starting from primary school to uni, maybe take up an idea like lulu( the commenter) made, and make sure its mandated to students to do 120 hours of community service before graduation at each js1-college, which will be documented by the locations where they do these events. One should not be paid to do a voluntary work for their nation.

  3. Nina’s suggestion makes so much sense. Why put your life on hold for a year of service when you can do community service continually while still in school?

  4. Kayode to be candid with you, you just pointed out some silent truth in Nigeria, bravo, but my concern is if the people in question are willing to listen b/c corrupting is the farm of civil servants in Nigeria

  5. Nina, I think if you are a writer trying to get a point(s) across to people you don’t know it is imperative to take much time ‘trying to sound professional and grammatically correct’. I think what the writer did was dole out figures and give us good writing. He should be commended for that. While I don’t agree with all his points, I still think that most people get it wrong when talking about the NYSC. The purpose is not just about serving the nation. It’s also about Nigerians getting to know about other cultures, ethnic groups and tribes. There is no sense in advocating for a NYSC scheme that will restrict people to their regions when one of the strong points of the scheme is to promote national unity. Also, I don’t think Kayode was trying to proffer solutions. It seems he was trying to do an objective analysis of the scheme. It has its problems and some were mentioned from the persective of a corp member. But we are so often blinded by the embellished horrors of NYSC that we forget it also does some good.

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