The ‘Great Grandfather’ Of Corps Members
FOR Mr. Ladipo Laniyan, the new National Youth Service Corps director in Lagos State, actualising and sustaining the aims of the scheme and improving on welfare, security and increasing the participation of corps members in Community Development Service (CDS) have been his front burner since he assumed the position of a State Director some years back in Ondo State. After leaving remarkable footprints in Ondo, Laniyan is now consolidating his many years of experience in the NYSC administration in Lagos State.
With his achievements in ensuring that individual corps members are equipped with various skills through their active role in community development service while in Ondo State, the amiable director has been putting more effort in ensuring better service year for corps members in Lagos State which hosts the highest number of corps members.
Laniyan who recently took the 2526 Batch ‘C’ corps members on an intensive orientation course in Lagos, said he has no doubts that the corps members will succeed in the pursuit of the lofty objectives of the service based on the quality of training they receive during the course.
As part of his plan to increase the productivity of corps members and to ensure their full utilization in the state, he recently deployed a number of corps members to road traffic control, environmental protection and beautification, as well as enforcement of morality in the society in collaboration with the relevant agencies of their community development services.
The director who is addressed as “great grandfather” or “godfather” by corps members even though he still relatively young, stressed that the nickname was given to him because of his relationship with corps members right from Ondo. “My relationship with the corps members is like that of father and children. I made them realize that they are my adopted children while in service and that their welfare and security were of utmost concern to me. So with the coming of different batches, I was promoted to grandfather and now great grandfather.”
While seeing him as a protective umbrella, corps members also refer to him as a godfather due to his commitment and involvement in their activities and welfare.
An accountant by profession, Laniyan has a degree in Finance and a Master’s degree in Business Administration. Being part of the directorate for 20 years, he said he has also gone through the normal thick and thin of the civil service.
Speaking on the posting of the corps members, the director said schools, ministries and local government areas are supposed to be the greatest beneficiaries of the scheme even though some private firms also seek for the corps members’ service. As part of his effort to improve on the welfare of corps members, the director said he looks forward to an increase in the corps members’ state allowances based on his last meeting with the concerned board.
Still on improving allowances, Laniyan has also appealed to the state government for an upward review of the incentives given to corps teachers and those serving in the rural areas and difficult terrains.
While emphasizing proper monitoring and inspection of corps members in the state, he said that the scheme has identified a new structure of administration that includes the state government and is aimed at decentralizing the administration and monitoring of corps members. “Just recently in Lagos, we posted an assistant director supported by some senior officers to the four zonal offices; it will be in form of a mini secretariat within each zone. We will have senior officers who will be in charge of operations, community development services and corps members’ welfare. With this arrangement, we hope to achieve a deeper penetration and an all-round monitoring of their activities”.
Laniyan has been playing an active role in ensuring that corps members are able to identify projects that would be of direct benefit to the host community. “When it comes to individual CDS, I always encourage them to undertake one. You can imagine if all our corps members can undertake year-round projects in each of the community, the level of development will certainly increase. On the other side, it will enable the corps members to earn practical experience through the execution of such CDS project.”
On the calls for the federal government to review the scheme, Laniyan said the aims of the scheme cannot be quantified, insisting that its functions have improved compared with its early years. “In the scheme, things are much more better in terms of its contribution to the economy, value re-orientation and cultural exposure. The scheme has also taken some acquired roles that borders on health, population, economy and general sensitization. The bottom line is looking back at the past and the present.
“Once we realize that the objective of the scheme is a continuous process, then we will all look forward to a better future. The essence of a national service cannot be exhausted; it aids development and also improves with time.”
He added that the scheme has been doing a lot to reduce the rate of unemployment among the youths after the national service by exposing them to the opportunities that are available through job advisory. “They are also trained to identify and come up with viable business ventures and also arrange soft loans for them. Ex-corps members also have the opportunity to access capital through the NYSC Foundation formed by ex-corps members to help the unemployed ones. We made it a point of duty to always educate them on self-reliance and job creation which will make them to become employers of labour too.”
Laniyan admonished companies that take on corps members to see them as their own and encourage them to perform. “I urge the employers of these corps members to counsel them when they are wrong because they are still on the learning process, they should not see them as cheap labourers. When they are performing well, they should motivate them to do more”.
He advised corps members to be punctual and work diligently in their places of work. While encouraging them to accept their posting in good faith, he also urged them to put more interest in the areas of their primary assignment.
“parents should also understand that these youths have grown and should avoid pampering them like children. You cannot pamper children at every stage of their lives. You need to allow them some freedom. We want our youths to be independent, disciplined and self-reliant,” he said.
On the issue of corps members been rejected, Laniyan stressed that the Lagos State government made it mandatory that no ministry or local government should reject corps members. “Corps members are usually posted to areas where their services are needed. I know of a community where the traditional ruler assured me that I can post as many corps members as possible, that he is ready to donate accommodation for them.”
Laniyan who believes that the real corps members are those that are serving in the rural areas, opined that corps members are supposed to serve more in the rural areas where they can be exposed to the culture and tradition of their host communities which is one of the objectives of the scheme. In order to achieve the cultural exchange needed, the scheme introduced what is known as Local Government Day where people from each local government will enlighten corps members on their cultures and traditions.
“The essence of this day is for corps members to interact with these people and also know their traditions. By so doing, we are also eradicating prejudices. I served in the old Akwa Ibom State and I can speak a bit of the language. I did my primary assignment at the Institute of Management and Business Administration, Uyo and I enjoyed being there.”
While recalling his experience during his service year, Laniyan said he taught Statistics and Business Management while in the school. “I still communicate with some of my friends then, especially my room mates such as Napoleon Amakiri who is the State Coordinator, National Directorate of Employment, Bayelsa State and Obisilee Eche who is also the Director of Finance, University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital. It was an interesting experience.
“I identified with the people of Uyo while I was there because of the sensitization I had about their values while in camp. That is why I take the issue of cultural exposure and sensitization very seriously now that I am opportune to coordinate the scheme. I gave my best to the scheme as a corps member. I learnt the lesson of self-reliance. Although I was not trained as a teacher, I took it upon myself to prepare my lecture notes properly in order to deliver well to my students. Today, I am happy I did and that is my advise to the youths.”