Saturday, January 15, 2022

On June 11, 2020, Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, presented the report of the Economic Sustainability Committee to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. The 76 pages document tagged: “Bouncing Back: Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan.” Contains several recommendations that will restore the Nigeria economy, among the recommendation is the suspension of NYSC orientation camp for a period of 24months. The statement reads, “In a similar context, consideration will be given to suspending the National Youth Service Corps, (NYSC) Orientation Camp Exercise for at least 24 months while allowing deployment to places of primary assignment. This will ensure that there is no backlog in the National Service placement pipeline.”

If this recommendation is sustained, the implication is that the 21days orientation given to prospective corps members will be on its way to memory lane, because it recommends direct mobilisation of prospective corps members to their places of primary assignment without proper orientation. With this in view, Lagos state youth therefore appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to reject any recommendations that will expose the lives of Nigerian Youths to criminals while in the search for accommodation in a strange land. Turaki Emmanuel, who recently completed his one-year mandatory service in Lagos while interacting with Eko news said, when he received his call-up letter and realised that he had been posted to Lagos State, accommodation was the first challenge that came into his mind, it was religious organisations precisely Nigeria Christian Corpers Fellowship, (NCCF) that came to his rescue.

“I have never been to Lagos before and I don’t have any relative here, so when I received my call-up letter, I was so much disturbed about where I will reside after the 21 days orientation camp. So I started saving money that I thought would be enough to get accommodation, but on getting to the orientation camp, I discovered that the money will not be enough to get a single room apartment because I was only able to save 50,000.00. Fortunately, during the last Sunday service at the orientation camp, it was announced that there is provision for accommodation for interested members. I indicated interest, and after the orientation camp we were taken to NCCF, Lagos Family house in Abule Egba, where I lodged till I finished my service year,” says Emmanuel.

Emmanuel was not the only corps member, who has benefited from free accommodation provided to corps members by religious organisations like NCCF, Muslim Corpers Association of Nigeria, (MCAN), National Association of Catholic Corps Members, (NACC), among others who have taken it as a burden to help corps members serving in major cities of the country where cost of living is on the high side. The best place of contact for this assistant is mainly the orientation camp. This is ideal to avoid accommodating youths who are homeless into the lodge, at the detriment of corps members who the apartments are built for. Though, the management of NYSC has mandated organisations that would require the services of corps members to provide accommodation for them, but the fact remains that the percentage of organisations with the ability to provide accommodation is very low compared to those who cannot.

Awelewa Bunmi, who is a prospective corps member from Lagos State University, (LASU) said she had envisaged to grab the opportunity of NYSC skill acquisition program to acquire knowledge on cosmetology, but are hope of becoming a cosmetologist is gradually fading due to the likely suspension of orientation camp where the activity do commence.

Bunmi said, “For my service year which will begin with 21days orientation camp, I have listed the numbers of things I would like to do at the camp, among which is to acquire skill. My preferred skill is cosmetology, I have strong passion for it and I am ready to pursue a career in it.”

NYSC Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development, (SAED) is a skill acquisition program introduced by the Federal Government of Nigeria in the year 2012. Its focus is to assist corps members to create job through Small and Medium Enterprises and tackle the unemployment rate in the country. SAED is one of the major activities corps members engage in during and after the orientation camp, as corps members are encouraged to continue learning the skill even after the orientation camp in other to attain proficiency.

No doubt, if the orientation camp is suspended or eventually phased out SAED and other activities that prepares the corps members for the task ahead like; early morning drills, lectures on the do’s and don’ts of the host community, talent discovery, social interaction and effective bonding, which in most cases do result to inter-tribal marriage, community integration, and entrenchment of peaceful co-existence which is the tenets of the scheme will be distorted. In a nut shell, orientation camp gives corps members the time needed to know the basic culture and tradition of their host community and prepares them to adapt to their new environment without falling into the hands of criminals.

A security expert, Ajibade Olaide, said that the proposed suspension of NYSC orientation camp for 24 months is a sign of security insensitivity in the part of the Economic Sustainability Committee, headed by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo. Adding that, if the committee considers the security risk that will be involve in exposing prospective corps members to a strange land without adequate orientation, they may probably not have included the suspension of orientation camp in their recommendations.

Olaide said, “The orientation camp is a preparation ground where prospective corps members are educated about their host community, and also gives them the opportunity to mingle with others who are either indigene of that state or familiar with the community. This people, in most cases do turn out to be friends of the corps member that is new to the community. They will direct and further assist corpers to find their path around after the orientation camp. This will protect the stranger from falling into the traps of kidnappers, petty thieves and rogues.

“The orientation camp also provides jobs and livelihood for the members of the host community which exposes corps members to the ways in which buying and selling are carried out in the host community. Petty traders and artisans, who helped corps members to adjust their clothes, dry clean and iron it, also, smile to the bank during this period. The fates of Photographers, who help make their service year more memorable needs to be considered. This traders and artisans will lost their means of survive and may possibly turn out to be hostile to corps members, while some of them will invent dubious means of extorting them.”

Understandably, the nation’s economy is crumbling and the federal government is considering several options to minimise its expenses, yet proposing to suspend NYSC orientation camp for 24 months which may likely turnout to be the end of that section of the corps members’ service year is like sending a soldier to the battlefield without training. The 21 days orientation camp expenses cannot be said to be an equivalent of the dangers corps members will be exposed to in a strange land. I therefore appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to consider the plights of corps members whose life will be endangered as a result of the proposed suspension of NYSC orientation camp and order the opening of the orientation camp immediately a vaccine or cure for corona-virus is discovered.

By Ife Adewole

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