Insecurity and the needless 1-year NYSC mandatory national service
By Halimat Shittu
Nigeria’s insecurity is gradually becoming a recurring phenomenon, threatening the well-being of its citizens. The avalanche of bandit attacks, kidnapping, armed robbery and many more anti-human crimes are becoming the order of the day across the country.
When these crimes are going on unabated, the need for national cohesion or unity, as exemplified in the mandatory one-year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme, is relegated to the background because the two are mutually exclusive. Although the NYSC scheme has outdated the insecurity, the continuous deployment of corps members to the troubled states where many of them have lost their lives is greatly becoming needless.
The NYSC is a compulsory one-year program for graduates under the age of 30. The vision of the scheme is to foster national unity and even development. The core objectives of the scheme include discipline, fostering the tradition of work, teaching ideals of national development, developing skills for self-employment, removing prejudices, eliminating ignorance and promoting national integration.
Impressive as these objects may appear, the prevailing insecurity in the country has pushed the scheme to the precipice with many Nigerians calling for the scrapping of the scheme. Just recently, a Nigerian, Okomayin Dennis Ude, had dragged the NYSC director-general Brigadier-General Mohammed Kaku Fadah, before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, over the continued existence of the NYSC scheme.
Mr Dennis and his counsel, Chief Ademuyiwa Adeniyi, SAN, prayed the court for an order that the continued sustenance of National Youth Service Corps Act, 1993, and the mandatory posting of young Nigerians around the country, including to insurgency and banditry ravaged or prone states or areas is a breach of right of every Nigerian youth as guaranteed by Sections 33 and 34 of the Nigerian Constitution.
Before now, going for NYSC which has always been on every graduate’s wish list. But this wishful feeling is becoming a nightmare for many. Many of this serving corps members fall victim of kidnapping, abduction and many more.
In July 2022, some unknown gunmen invaded a corps lodge at Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom, robbing and raping some corps members.
A graduate of the Delta State Polytechnic, Otefe, one Onoriode, was kidnapped alongside other passenger of the Abuja-Kaduna train. Ms Onoriode was on her way to the NYSC orientation camp in Jigawa State.
According to a report by The Guardian, Ms Onoriode’s parents had to pay N2million, bought a motorcycle and five Tecno mobile phones with 100,000 recharge cards as ransom.
On October 23, 2021, a 29-year-old Jennifer who is a corps member and another corps member whose name was not revealed was kidnapped alongside four others on their way to Kebbi NYSC Orientation Camp. While recounting her ordeal, Miss Jennifer said they were whisked into the forest where they were camped for many days.
In April 2022, Stephanie, a graduate of the Joseph Sarwan Tarka University Makurdi, Benue State who is serving in Abuja, left home for her Community Development Services (CDS) and was reportedly kidnapped. Two weeks later, Stephanie was later found dead around Lokogoma area of Abuja with most of her vital organs missing.
In July 2022, Chioma Eunice Igweike who left for the three weeks’ NYSC orientation course at the Ogun State was found dead with vital parts of her body missing.
Friends and former coursemates of the deceased at the Federal Polytechnic, Oko told Lindaikeji that the graduate was kidnapped and killed by suspected ritualists.
While these killings and abductions of corps members go on across the country, little or no drastic action is being done to safeguard the lives of these Nigerians. However, many are of the opinion if the scheme cannot be scrapped, the federal government shouldn’t mandate posting corps members to crime-prone areas. According to them, corps members should be allowed to choose their state of choice.
Suberu Matthew, a graduate of Mechanical Engineering from Federal Polytechnic, Kaduna who is serving at Kebbi State Polytechnic Dakingari, advised the NYSC officials to post indigenes to their states, saying that the reason for doing so is that they understand their region more than strangers.
He said: “The issue of insecurity does not affect only NYSC serving members only. Insecurity is a general issue that the government needs to find a solution to.
“The main motive of NYSC is to foster unity among the nation and that’s why if you’re from the south, they post you to the north, vice versa.
But since NYSC official cannot be able to ensure the safety of the serving corps members in the states that are prone to these insecurities and there is no remedy yet, I suggest that NYSC official should post those that are from those states to these places for their service year, because they understand the region more than strangers and also those that are willing to serve in those states till God help us to profound solution to the insecurities in the nation.
Chidinma, an NYSC member serving in Abuja sees the scheme as a waste of funds and resources by the government.
“The money the FG spends on NYSC orientation camps each year is enough to train Nigerian graduates on useful entrepreneurial skills that will equip the graduates to become self-employed, and further create more job opportunities for them.
She added that the monthly allowance paid to the NYSC corps member is a nice innovation but on the other hand, a way of punishing innocent graduates.
“An amount less than N30,000 for an average Nigerian youth is worthless, let alone an NYSC participant striving to go to their places of work daily, buy food stuff, house rent at times and other miscellaneous expenses. It is in every way insufficient as this often discourages them from being active in their assigned posts when there is no financial freedom.”
Miss Aramide, another NYSC member serving in Gombe State called on the federal government to suspend the NYSC scheme till further notice.
“I just wish the federal government can put on hold the mobilization of NYSC members pending the time the tension of insecurity would die down,” she pleaded.
Halimat Shittu writes from Abuja