Alhaji Haliru Garba was one of the pioneer corps members mobilised for service at the inception of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in 1973. Garba, who served in Lagos State, went down memory lane on his experience and how employment letters were brought to them at the camp, among others.
What was your NYSC experience like?
We didn’t believe we would go for programme. We went to the streets to demonstrate and we got beaten up. We even lost one corps member who graduated from the University of Ibadan at the demonstration. Despite our demonstration, we were still forced to do it and we did the NYSC. My first experience of the whole thing was that I had never crossed the River Niger or River Benue until NYSC came.
Where did you serve?
I was posted to Lagos State.
Which state are you from and which university did you graduate from?
I am from Jigawa State and I graduated from the Bayero University in 1973 where I studied English language.
Tell us about your experience?
At the end of the day, my NYSC days were fantastic. I taught in a school called Local Government Training School in Ikeja. It was owned by the Lagos State government. I thought several subjects but majorly English.
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What was accommodation like?
You know, NYSC was a baby of the military and it was during their era that the scheme started. The state governments were all soldiers. The governor of Lagos State at that time, Mobolaji if I can still remember, gave us houses in a newly built estate by the government. Those of us who were married corps members were given two bedrooms while the single ones including the ladies were given one bedroom each. All of us were given houses.
How much was your allowance at the time?
We were paid N60 at the time. And the N60 was big enough to take care of whatever we wanted to do. I only received NYSC allowance; I wasn’t paid anything in the school I thought. The N60 was paid twice in the month, N30 at the middle of the month and the other N30 at the end of the month.
At what age did you serve?
I served at the age of 28. That year – 1973, was my golden year. It was in that year that I got married, the same year I graduated and the year I went for youth service.
Did you get a job immediately after you finished your service?
In fact, they looked for us. We were still in camp when they were coming to recruit us. You know NYSC came after the Civil War. Organizations were looking for us to employ us. We were in the camp when they brought employment letters for us.
Which job did you accept?
I accepted a teaching job at the Government College Kano.
What’s your general assessment of the scheme today?
Basically, I would say in life, today must always be better.
What’s your take on the current trend of people requesting for reposting and redeployments?
Life is changing every day. Now, corps members always want comfort rather than make sacrifice for their fatherland. I urge them to accept any posting they are given so that the objective of the scheme would be achieved.