Tuesday, June 7, 2011
NYSC: Now should the suffering continue?
NYSC: Now should the suffering continue? In years past, Corps Members have been killed, kidnapped tortured while carrying out the one year youth service. The recent killings of some Corps Members have again brought the beaming light if the NYSC scheme should continue, AYODELE SAMUEL writes In 1993 when 25 year old Alimi Yusuf was posted to Benue state for his youth service, his hope of working in Lagos was dashed, but his life receive a major turn around he never expected. Mr Alimi hails from Owo town in Ondo state where he had all his academics activities up to university level. His dream was to be posted to “bubbling” Lagos state for his national youth service but the NYSC commission dashed his hope. He was posted to Benue state “I was mad when I saw my name on the list of Benue state, what do they have their how will that affect my live positively” he pondered. the father of 3 kids said he met his lovely wife during the exercise “I married a Tiv lady who I met during my Youth Service,I served at Zaki Biam town in Ukum local government of Benue state but I never believed it but it happens because from my part of the country inter ethnic marriage is not common” “ I met her in a school where she worked as an admin officer after her SSCE in Zaki- Biam town, when I was posted to Benue state for my mandatory service in 1993, we got married in 1995 and since then have seen myself as a Yoruba-Tiv man a pure detribalize Nigerian” Mr. Alimi Yusuf cautioned that the cancelation of the scheme could disintegrate the nation “many Nigerians has been integrated during the NYSC service, knowing other parts of the country, learning about their culture makes you feel we are one Nigeria even though there are challenges some members faced in serving in the northern part of the country, that has not called for the cancelation” The family of Pa Rufus Gbenjo do not share the same sentiment with Mr. Alimi, their son Ebenezer Gbenjo was a graduate of Economic Education from the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago Iwoye, Ogun State, He was serving in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area in Bauchi State, where he was recruited as one of the electoral officers by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and posted to Giade town where he was during the post-election violence. Ebenezer was among other youth corps members who met their untimely death at the Giade Police Station where they sought refuge during the post-election violence in Bauchi on April 18 and his family are calling for a total cancelation of the scheme. While Mr Adeniji Adesiyan, the elder brother to the late Jelili Adeniji, , a banking and finance graduate from the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUAA), Ondo State, was killed at the Corpers’ Lodge in Bauchi by the rioters want the security agents to fish out those responsible for the killing of the NYSC members, Adeniji believes only the prosecution and conviction of the killers will reduce the pain and shock inflicted by Jelili’s death “scraping what have being in existence may not solve the problem but open prosecution and conviction of those who carried out these deadly act will heal our wounds, even thou none of our family member will partake in the programme again, we will not forgive this nation if those behind the killing of our promising young men and women are not brought to book.” The post election violence which rock some northern state shortly after the 2011 presidential election had increase the list of serving youth corps members the nation has loss to crisis, more than ten graduates lost their lives in sacrifice for a credible election. Dr. Frederick Fasheun is the National Coordinator of the The Oodua Peoples’ Congress OPC called for the arrest and trial of those responsible for recent post election violence. Fasheun also wondered why the laws of the country have not been applied to deal with the situation in the country. “I wonder what is happening in the country where the laws for genocide are not been applied to deal with those who commit mass murder. Why the laws on arson are not being applied to those who burn other people’s houses.” Expressing his mixed feeling on the continuation of the scheme a serving corps member in Taraba State said the killing of his colleagues in Bauchi and other state implies the failure of scheme, “we are not sent here to be killed or did the government set up NYSC to waste the life’s of young Nigerians, even before the recent killings there have been cases of killing, kidnapping, raping Corp members and the government has not done anything to stop, if all these cannot be stopped then the scheme should be modify to save our life’s.” The corps member who does not want his name in print said “everyday we stay here in fear, this northern part is too volatile and its not same in the west or the east were we came from, if our people are hospitable, accommodating and peaceful I think we should be allow to serve in our geopolitical region am sure no Bauchi man will kill his fellow Bauchi brother because somebody win or loss election.” He noted that he has not learn anything new since he arrived at state:“how can I learn culture were am always afraid, you can’t learn in a condition that risk your life also I have not learn the culture of my land finish you are talking of another place, my prayer is to get of this place soon” We are calling on government to let us chose were we want to serve “am sure if we had choose by our self states we want to go to, those guys killed will not have chose those state” The former Minister of Information, Chief Alex Akinyele want the scheme scraped, he said that the NYSC scheme had since outlived its usefulness within the first fifteen years of its establishment by the military administration of Gen. Yakubu Gowon to national integration , counseling that rather than exposing the lives of Nigerian Graduates to dangers of insecurity and wastage, their efforts at serving their father land could be channeled towards providing technical aid assistance to other African countries who require such services. He argued that their services would better be appreciated in the African countries in view of the fact that those African countries realized that Nigeria is ahead of them in many areas, noting that such programme would also bring more earnings to the country. ”I am saying that they should be used for Technical Aids Commission. With the Technical Aid Commission, our student can go all over the world and be there for more than one year, maybe ten years. They can go to Ghana, or Kenya and all other parts of African, they get paid and many of them get jobs there And that will be a greater exposure to them than someone who was born in Lagos and has to go to somewhere in Zungeru in Niger state to go and suffer ”. He maintained that different ethnic unions that exists in the Nigerian universities , sharing together facilities such as hostels in the higher institutions , the numerous games and competitions have replaced the said objectives of inter-ethnic interactions which was said to be the main objective behind the scheme, charging relevant authorities to consult widely on the modalities on way out of the problem. “I say send them to all the African states, let them go and help them there. They know that we Nigerians are ahead of them and they pay them with Dollars. If they don ’t know how to go about it, let them call Professor Bolaji Akinyemi who was a Honourable Minister for Foreign Affairs during the Gen Babangida regime .Our students went round the African world then” Otunba Ayodele Oloye, a parent of two children expecting their call up letter said it will be sad if the scheme is canceled as he condole with the families of the slain youths “am sad that we still kill ourself in Nigeria, but I don’t want the scheme canceled even thou I pray none of my children steps Bauchi state in name of serving father land, the federal government should delist violence prone states from the service.” The vision of the scheme which had being in existence for the past 25 years is to be at the fore front of National development efforts, as well as serve as a profitable platform for imparting in our youths values of nationalism,patriotism,loyalty and accountable leadership but with the recent killings of its members during the last post election violence in the country , the vision of the scheme seems to have change to wasting lives of young and promising Nigerians in the name of serving their fatherland. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THE NYSC The NYSC scheme was created in a bid to reconstruct, reconcile and rebuild the country after the Nigerian Civil war. The unfortunate antecedents in our national history gave impetus to the establishment of the National Youth Service Corps by decree No.24 of 22nd May 1973 which stated that the NYSC is being established "with a view to the proper encouragement and development of common ties among the youths of Nigeria and the promotion of national unity". As a developing country. Nigeria is further plagued by the problems attendant upon a condition of under development, namely; poverty. mass illiteracy, acute shortage of high skilled manpower (coupled with most uneven distribution of the skilled people that are available), woefully inadequate socioeconomic infrastructural facilities, housing. Water and sewage facilities, road, healthcare services, and effective communication system. Faced with these almost intractable problems, which were further compounded by the burden of reconstruction after the civil war, the government and people of Nigeria set for the country, fresh goals, and objectives aimed at establishing Nigeria as: (a) a united, strong and selfreliant nation: (b) a great and dynamic economy; (c) a land of bright and full opportunities for all citizens; and (d) a free and democratic society. The government and people of Nigeria are not aware that sound and patriotic leadership is a precondition for the rapid social and economic development of the country. As a nation, Nigeria has been less fortunate in the kind of leadership that emerge to govern the affairs of the country in the period immediately after independence, a leadership whose achievements notwithstanding, was none the less ill- prepared. and generally not properly motivated to tackle the problems of socioeconomic under development, in the interest of the country as a whole. E. There is no gain saying the fact that the future of any country depends on the youths. The youths of Nigeria acknowledge this fact, and have consistently laid claim to the nation's leadership. F. While one may give credence to the saying that leaders are born, not made, one must also concede to the fact that leadership in a modem society requires a certain degree of preparation and orientation before the assumption of that role. G. The universities and other institutions of higher learning are normally expected to be training ground for future leaders, except that, as we are all aware, these institutions are first and foremost committed to the advancement of learning and knowledge, training of people for good citizenship. Little wonder that the products of these institutions have been accused of being too elitist in their outlook, of not identifying with the plight of common man, and of inability to appreciate predicament of the vast majority of our people who live in the rural areas. H. It was the need to look beyond the immediate present and to think of the future leadership of the country that necessitated the mobilisation of certain categories of our youths through the National Youth Service Corps Scheme. This was done with a view to giving them the proper guidance and orientation relevant to the needs of the country. The National Youth Service Corps Decree No. 24 which has now been repealed and replaced by Decree 51 of 16th June 1993, was then formally promulgated. I. The purpose of the scheme is primarily to inculcate in Nigerian Youths the spirit of selfless service to the community, and to emphasize the spirit of oneness and brotherhood of all Nigerians, irrespective of cultural or social background. The history of our country since independence has clearly indicated the need for unity amongst all our people, and demonstrated the fact that no cultural or geographical entity can exist in isolation.