What Good is Left in the NYSC Program? – Olukoya Obafemi

The NYSC program has come under severe and intense scrutiny over the years now. The exact intent for which it was created as been defeated over the years

It is a program that was enacted in 1973 to foster national unity through inter-tribal relation of the corps members who are deployed away from their state of origin or states where they attended their higher education. It was of course a welcome idea as it came in handy after the national unity that was severely threatened by the civil war and it further fosters pluralism.

Serious deviation from these was witnessed when graduates were able to influence the deployments, the first of such which was witnessed in 1980’s. The reverberating effect meaning people not being able to influence the posting to suit their wish are left at the mercy of the available states; such states include the states in the core north witnessing Boko Harams hegemony.

Sometimes in April 2010, our own corpers lodge was attacked by the indigenes of our place of primary assignment-Omuma village in Eberi LGA of Rivers state. We were beaten, threatened to be shot, and all our valuables were confiscated. Such valuables included even our NYSC uniforms, shoes and ID cards. Thank God no death was recorded. We were seen as people who were very rich and as people who came to take advantage of their resources. We later heard one of the teachers of the school we were teaching was killed just 2 weeks before we were deployed, but it was kept as a secret to us the poor helpless visitors.

That was just a caption of what I personally witnessed during my service year in 2010. Youth corps members all over the country have their own negative experiences ranging from religious violence to ethnic violence to political violence. There were series of bombing and attack which rocked the country after the gubernatorial and presidential election in 2011 where scores of corps member were also killed. The presidency promised jobs to the affected corps member, but as usual, that is down the drain of such empty promises from the man who once had no shoes. The truth is that corps members are not protected or cared for, it is so sardonic for the presidency to think compensations paid to the families of the 2011 post-election bombing is anything compared to their lives. It is regrettably lugubrious for the president to see being attacked as the only reason to promise instant job, what of those graduates not attacked? They can wonder jobless on the street.

The latest of such tragedy is the death of a friend Olowosulu Michael who was found dead in the morning of 22/feb/2014 along the road in the village of his primary assignment in Zamfara state. Of course you will say just another of such, but the circumstance around this made it singularly pathetic. A happy young man, who advocated the truth at all times even when it meant his life, he always stood for the truth. He was found dead on the roadside where he was dumped by his killer, while yet serving his father’s land. His killers or reasons for his killing is yet to be brought to light, but what else could it have amounted to but the negligence on the part of the security agent and the NYSC authority who keeps posting graduates to Northern states under the hegemony of Boko Haram.

Serving your father’s land is no longer a thing of pride. It is now considered cheap labour by capitalist public and private offices. It is high time the government stopped sending graduates to all this northern states. Corps member are at 100 percent risk at such states. I don’t know if it should be amounted to myopism or just deliberate negligence on the part of NYSC and it authorities. The Government needs to make a modus vivendi to this status quo so that this pitiable dismal pismal can be seceded. They need to stop risking the lives of poor Nigerian graduates who are the supposed future of the nation. Strict policies should be implemented to protect corps members in the various states, not only the Northern Nigeria.

RIP Olowosulu St. Michael Gbeleko Oluwella

The views expressed above are solely that of the writer and not of or its associates.

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