Friday, 25 July 2014

Posting Of National Youth Service Corps(NYSC) Members Should Be Limited To Their Geo-Political Zones

By Jegede Oluwatola

The National Youth Service Corps programme established in the year 1973 under the 1973 decree states that ''every Nigerian below the age of 30 years that has completed his first degree programme is liable to be called upon to serve in the service corps''. It was formulated during the administration of General Yakubu Gowon. The scheme was intended to foster national unity after the civil war that polarized the country. It was also aimed at destroying the fears that existed among people of Nigeria then who feared to go, live or work in other parts of the country other than theirs.

Truth be told, the sole purpose of the NYSC scheme has been bastardized over the years as some geopolitical zones have been too hostile, insensitive and lack security to ensure the safety and guarantee the protection of lives of the Corps members serving in other zones. We have heard of the intolerant nature of some geopolitical zones against the corps members posted to their areas on the basis of them not being in conformity with their religion and culture. That is why cases of Corps members being ambushed on their way to camp have been recorded as well as female corp members being raped in such communities.

The call for the scheme to be reviewed reached a crescendo with the gruesome killing of 10 Corps members following the post-election violence in Bauchi in April 2011. Then some disgruntled youth of the state meted out their annoyance about a Southerner, President Goodluck Jonathan, winning the election on the poor souls. This incident blacklisted the North and the following year, mass redeployment was recorded as many Corps members refused to go to the North as they could not stop thinking some unforeseen ills could befall them. Worthy of mention is the fact that Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko in Ondo state objected to their students being posted to the North because of one of its graduate, Mr Kehinde Jehleel Adeniji who was among the 10 who were slaughtered in Bauchi in 2011.

Nigeria is a constitutional democracy-practicing state and one of the features of such state is the strict adherance to the constitution. Posting of graduates to areas which obviously aren't safe is total insensitivity to the human race, the height of callousness and the worst of all, it is inconsistent with the provisions of section 33(1) of the 1999 Nigeria constitution that guarantees the right to life of every person by stating that the security and welfare of the people shall be the main purpose of the government. It is also a contravention of the provisions of the Africa Charter of Human And People's Right as well as the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights. This indeed is demeaning to the image of the country in the international world.

The maxim ''if education is expensive try ignorance'' is often used by government when raising tuition fees, therefore increasing the number of dropouts. Then after the hustle and bustle, moil and toil that parents and students go through to make sure they remain in school despite the fees soaring high, then the time comes for them to enjoy the labour of their hands, the same government that offered no help then but rather turned deaf ears to their plea, comes and in the name of patriotism sends their wards to a 'land of no return'. The bombings in Kaduna, Zaria and other parts Northern states all show that the North isn't safe for serving. The NYSC management and the Federal Government are aware of this. So this is a clear infringement and an encroachment on human rights.

Of course we know that the NYSC programme helps in serving as an opportunity for a Yoruba graduate to go to the North and learn their culture or an Edo graduate to go to Yoruba et cetera. It serves as a ground for people to go to where naturally they never would have set their foot in all their lives. But in a situation whereby security is unsure, should this be our main concern? Should we risk lives in the name of learning new culture? Since lives are on the line, i say no to it! This idea should be jettisoned without batting an eyelid. No offense could be greater than sniffing lives out of others.

Although my opponents may claim that restricting the NYSC posting may polarize the country, make Nigerians ethnocentric and negate the stance ''unity in diversity'' but still it does not confute the reality that some hopeless and hapless graduates have been wasted and could still be wasted with reckless abandon and justice isnt taking its full course as some of the vile murderers kill with impunity. This further begs the question, why isn't maximum security a priority in Nigeria? Should we allow sentiments becloud our senses of reasoning and watch more lives and brains being wasted? Since we can't outrightly trust the government for absolute security, i would rather lives got saved by limiting the NYSC posting to their geopolitical zones. I am sure if the late 10 NYSC Corps members who were slaughtered on the altar of them being Southerners had known the fate that awaited them in the North, they would have begged for redeployment.

The essence of the NYSC scheme has been defeated to a very large extent as hatred has conquered love, repulsion has conquered harmony. The NYSC scheme has unknowingly promoted the idea that unity is impossible and this shouldn't be. Hatred has filled the heart of people from one zone against the other. Some Southerners may never forget how their people were and are still being massacred in the Northern areas and there have also been repraisal attacks from the people of the South on the Northerners in their zones, all in the name of revenge. It has created a total loathing of geopolitical zones against one another. Hence the Corps members in the North, South, East and West are at a very great risk. This gives us inauspicious signs about the future of Nigeria.

To round off this piece, there is an urgent need for the review of the NYSC programme if the programme should be sustained lest it gets to the point where so many will agitate for total cancellation of the scheme. In the interim, the posting should be to their geopolitical zones till the time government finds a solution to the security issues rocking our country. At least to a very reasonable level where the Corps members safety is guaranteed, also when indiscriminate attacks and wastage of lives will be stopped. Pressing further, this will stop the country from continually being bereaved of intellectual national assets in the course of serving the nation. Thank you!


INSECURITY: NYSC faces posting challenges- Vanguard News

Post Election Crisis: Prospective Corps members skeptical about NYSC scheme:: The Economy Magazine- Nigeria: NYSC Imminent Collapse of a Youth Service Scheme-

Revisiting The NYSC: Audit Sos By Okafor Amamchukwu:: Eagle Reporters-

Boko Haram:NYSC Stops Posting Of 14,850 graduates to North- Nigeria's Most Widely Read Newspaper

Nigeria: Igbo Attacking Northerners In Onitsha, Asaba, African Spotlight, 9/2/2012


The writer of this article, Jegede Oluwatola is a student of Department of English, Obafemi Awolowo University. You can reach Oluwatola through her e-mail:
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