This Youth Corps Sef !

NYSC

To be or not to be…Youth ‘corpers’ at parade

I WAS a corper in Azare, Bauchi State in 1980-81 and was the corpers’ PRO, editor of the corpers’ magazine and sole administrator of Azare Corpers’ Association. My only concern before mobilization was feeding; I had never cooked before then because my parents ran a division of labour regime in which cooking was not my lot. My total allawee (allowance) was N2400 (N200 monthly) and with that, I funded my convocation requirements (University of Ibadan, November 1980), visited home thrice, attended Lever Brothers interview in Lagos, and furnished my room at the end of the exercise (bed, wall hanger, cushion for four and a center table).

We received all the items needed for camping and I shared a duplex with a colleague at GSS Azare. I was at peace, respected as a government pickin, and there was nothing to worry about in terms of security. My father only gave me the initial fare to Bauchi. I was at home in Azare such that even after the service year, I visited the town at least twice from my base in Enugu; a journey that took at least a day in those days.

Organizations are also subjecting these youth to pure slave labour. A corper was assigned to teach and conduct lessons for classes 1A to 1E, with about 600 students, without even a pure water allowance. The proprietor of the school told him that he was lucky to have been accepted! The young man could not cope and begged to be released. He is now searching for another place of primary assignment. My son who read EE (Electrical- Electronics- whatever that means) is teaching mathematics for classes 1-5; no housing, no nothing! On November 10, 2015, he sent an SOS: they had not been paid their October allawee! The son of man had to organize a bailout!

But gradually, the ‘yutucor’ started losing everything that made it worthwhile. Qualification for the scheme became a yo-yo game as people were included and excluded on the bases of qualification and age. The government even considered limiting the number of participants per batch. It became uncertain if and when one would be mobilized, as there are several batches and streams in the same service year. Corpers are rejected with impunity even by federal government agencies. With increasing insecurity and corruption, people started scheming to serve in juicy states and because of the unemployment situation, people who were not qualified started scheming to serve while those serving, schemed for extension. I know of a lady who went to serve 10 years after she left school!

However, the events of 2011 fundamentally altered the shape, future and fortune of the scheme. Sai-baba miscreants gruesomely murdered corpers serving in their domains because baba did not win. Young Nigerians who went to serve their fatherland were brought home dead; their parents’ hopes and expectations turned into sorrow and anguish, as Nigerian hosts murdered fellow Nigerians who were their guests; a very un-Nigerian tendency. The face of NYSC had changed. It could not be an instrument of national integration if people who went to serve, full of pride and plans for the future ended up 6 feet below. People became reluctant to serve and would rather stay away than serve in the death-fields. The Boko Haram terrorists and other criminals also worsened the matter as they had special interest in corpers!

But my experience from the service of my kids (one has finished, two are still serving) has brought new revelations about the decay in the scheme. Luckily, none of them was posted to the killing fields and none of them was rejected at their places of primary assignment. But beyond that, there is nothing more to cheer about. My daughter served in a local government in oil-rich Bayelsa. The LGA neither provided accommodation nor transport subsidy even though they insisted she had to report for work regularly. I rented and furnished an apartment for her.

I reluctantly provided funds for camp items because, the NYSC I knew catered for these items. However, when my son was mobilized, he gave me a list longer than what he presented when he went to college a decade earlier. The list included three white shorts and shirts, a white tennis shoes, three pairs of socks, toiletries, provision, food warmer and other essentials like buckets, cup, spoon and bed-sheet! I was stupefied and when I consulted the sister who served earlier, she affirmed that the materials were inadequate, unsuitable and of horrible quality, and that those who didn’t buy or provide theirs were forced to patronize the official black market! Beyond that, my son has been forced to undergo compulsory capacity building for N5000, after he had undergone another capacity building programme of his choice (under the auspices of the same NYSC). I have also rented and furnished an apartment for him.

The NYSC has shamelessly exploited their wards in the name of online mobilization and even that has not come easy. My second son’s payment with a Verve card was not captured until he paid physical cash into the NYSC account while they had to provide their certificates before camping. So, despite the online mobilization, he had to go to school for his certificate. Technology and online mobilization indeed! As usual, I bought all the camp materials and the housing fund is being negotiated as I write.

Organizations are also subjecting these youth to pure slave labour. A corper was assigned to teach and conduct lessons for classes 1A to 1E, with about 600 students, without even a pure water allowance. The proprietor of the school told him that he was lucky to have been accepted! The young man could not cope and begged to be released. He is now searching for another place of primary assignment. My son who read EE (Electrical- Electronics- whatever that means) is teaching mathematics for classes 1-5; no housing, no nothing! On November 10, 2015, he sent an SOS: they had not been paid their October allawee! The son of man had to organize a bailout!

In effect, the government cannot protect these government-pikins; they cannot even provide ordinary camping materials. The scheme is shoddily managed, and the society does not appreciate the corpers. Employers reject corpers for primary assignment or subject them to slave labour. While Colonel Fajuyi protected his host with his life, today’s hosts will rather slaughter corpers without qualms. Criminals now find corpers attractive targets. Years before, graduates looked forward to service with excitement and blissful expectations. Now they do so with uncertainty, anxiety and trepidation. Under these circumstances, I believe we should discontinue with the NYSC scheme.

My second son has just been assigned to a broadcasting station for his primary assignment. He is subjected to the full-time work protocol including night duty; he was not allowed to go home to pick his things and will be on duty up to December 24. And as usual, no nothing! The NYSC authorities directed them to open two accounts for federal and state allawee. (The state had not paid anything for the past two years.) He already has an account and the new accounts would cost him N2000 each. So, a corper with a monthly turnover of N19,800 now has three bank accounts- UBA, UBN and FBN!

In effect, the government cannot protect these government-pikins; they cannot even provide ordinary camping materials. The scheme is shoddily managed, and the society does not appreciate the corpers. Employers reject corpers for primary assignment or subject them to slave labour. While Colonel Fajuyi protected his host with his life, today’s hosts will rather slaughter corpers without qualms. Criminals now find corpers attractive targets. Years before, graduates looked forward to service with excitement and blissful expectations. Now they do so with uncertainty, anxiety and trepidation. Under these circumstances, I believe we should discontinue with the NYSC scheme. A situation in which we cannot run the scheme well and insist that people must serve in the scheme is far from ideal. This must change!
Dr. Muo is of the Department of Business Administration, OOU, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State.



No Comments yet

Related