By Rilwan Muhammad
I can say that I have reasons to agree that these people are good at denying facts. Me, I didn’t like it when you, or any person I know, denies a fact, especially when it is blatantly undeniable. Wouldn’t I even feel ashamed of myself to abjure or regard as untrue what many see and agree to be true?
Even I (or is it me? No. Please spare me the stress of observing this grammatical propriety) that am not an authority or any person you would hold in high esteem, wouldn’t want to be embarrassed by regarding what is true as untrue. If I were them, I would simply eat a humble pie and quickly bring another topic that would cover the gaffe.
By refusing to accept the mistake, didn’t they know that they were further subjecting themselves to another ridicule?
Before I went for the three weeks orientation course for this National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), I made sure I discussed it with my friends who served years ago. I wanted to have ideas as to how to make my relocation work in my favour. With this insecurity, who would want to travel to an insecure place? But the problem is, many places are insecure. Even villages that used to be secure, some bad people are making them their hideouts for their atrocious machinations. Only lately, I heard a villager was kidnapped. The family had to sell their cows, and painfully parted with the money.
That was why I asked my friends how they worked it out with their redeployment. I wanted to serve where I would get a befitting burial if I died. I wouldn’t want my corpse to be left where it would be devoured by animals.
Earlier, I was told my relocation would work under three grounds: marriage, health and insecurity.
While filling in the online NYSC registration form, I recall I ticked ‘single’ and submitted ‘healthy’ on my health status.
My friends laughed when I told them I was healthy and feared my relocation application wouldn’t be considered when I applied. They said I should take it easy, that I should just give N5,000 and a medical report containing some illness would be ‘secured’.
They, however, advised that I wait till I download the posting letter. If I was posted to any of those scary places, I should tell them.
When the posting letter came out, it showed I would serve in that part of the country I said I didn’t want to serve in.
I was worried! I was, however, pacified that I could get redeployment with that medical report with fake illness.
Sometimes I wonder if we are all the same. This relocation issue, people are using insecurity and health to change from the state they are posted to, to the state of their choice. I know many people who were posted to good places but said they were with this and that illness and got relocation. This is not good! But what disturbs me more is, the doctors that stamp on the medical reports of persons they never diagnosed. They just collect money and hand the report to the person. Not even a stethoscope would be falsely placed on your chest fah!
I know the boss of the NYSC is always saying they are frowning at those officials that engage in doing relocation for corps members for money. He said they have even fired some that were found guilty of that breach of trust. But again, this thing is still happening.
Not even that; some corps members don’t even go to their places of primary assignment; they ‘settle’ it with either their employers or local government inspectors!
These youths that always say they want to take control of the affairs of the country and bring new energy and ideas, see what they do.
When I first heard someone call my friend a ghost ‘corper’, I didn’t know what it meant. One fellow in our circle who always insults leaders said he didn’t teach even once at the school he was posted to when he did his NYSC. He said he would only grease his employer’s rough hands in exchange for the monthly clearance slip.
Is this a good indication that they will do their level best in bringing development to people when they assume power?
I’m not saying I’m a saint; that false medical report, I shouldn’t have done it. But I badly wanted to do the service where I could go on with other activities that fetch money. In this country of ours, after NYSC, only the luckiest ones get good jobs. That’s why I needed to continue with my side hustle so that I could save the ‘alawee’ and venture into business after the assignment.
Although the place I did my orientation course was one of the troubled states, the NYSC people said we shouldn’t worry, that they would deploy us to secure areas in the state. I thought they would even merge us with other corps members in neighbouring camps, going by the security situation in the state. They didn’t do that.
I also thought our being posted there meant automatic relocation. That didn’t happen.
If I hadn’t done that report, I wouldn’t have been redeployed to another state.
When we finished the orientation course, one of the scheme’s cardinal points, soldiers were asked to escort us out of the place.
I was just praying and sweating inside the car. Were we not drawing attention by being escorted by security personnel?
This NYSC is now like a do-or-die affair. Last year amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, they insisted that camps be opened, that they would observe meticulously all the containment guidelines. One guy, who served that time, told me he nearly injured his ears with the use of face-mask.
Again, when that Honourable proposed a bill seeking the scrapping of the scheme, they all rose to his defence. This Honourable was making sense when he said some of the objectives that established the scheme are being trampled over. Didn’t he also mention insecurity as his reason for proposing the bill?
They said NO to Mr Honourable but now they are giving us ‘advisory tips to minimise being victims of kidnappers’.
They advise that “when we are travelling in high risk roads such as Abuja-Kaduna, Abuja-Lokoja-Okene or Aba-Port-Harcourt roads, then we should alert our family members, friends and colleagues in order to have someone on hand to pay off the ransom that could be demanded.”
When I saw this information in circulation, I reckoned it’s just people’s way of ridiculing the scheme for no reason. When it became apparent that it wasn’t, I remembered I was given books back in camp. It’s me that they’re giving books! They didn’t know that even in school, it was with reading from jottings that I passed my examinations.
But this evening when I read the NYSC people denying that they mentioned something in that line, I quickly fetched the ‘Security Awareness and Education Handbook For Corps Members and Staff’ and skimmed through its pages and found what they denied was written. This is embarrassment!
My question is, how can they retrieve the books to correct that part? The person who wrote the handbook is not romantic; he just put it that way. Perhaps he wanted to be frank, or was it something that he had in mind?
But for the statement, me, I don’t want to say that it suggests that the country is in trouble if the security of the citizenry is not guaranteed.
No one is safe, and authorities are busy giving us tips on what our family members, friends and colleagues should do in the event of our kidnap. I don’t want to say anything again, but my question is: what if our family members, friends and colleagues are poor and can’t afford to pay the ransom?
Rilwan Muhammad can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org