Dear Hon. Abiante,
I hope you are in good health.
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I hear you recently proposed a bill to scrap the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) because of so many reasons, the glaring one among which is the insecurity that is ravaging some parts of the country; that the scheme has led to the “incessant killings of innocent corps members in some parts of the country due to banditry, religious extremism, ethnic violence and kidnapping.”
That is true, sir. Insecurity has made huge inroads into the country so that a good number of the citizens hardly sleep with all eyes closed, and in the belief that they would wake up hale and hearty the following morning. The story is even gorier in the Northern part of the country where the plague has stopped people from going about their normal routines. Some, whose business is that of putting food on our tables, have now stopped going to farms for fear of what would happen if they ever went.
We hear how farmers were killed in Zabarmari village of Jere Local government area of Borno State.We are not unaware of the mass abduction of school students in Katsina and Kaduna and the incessant kidnappings of individuals in many states.
Sir, the whole country is not safe.
I am pleased you are deeply concerned about the health and security of corps members, who are just like the other Nigerians.
But sir, Nigeria has a population of almost 200 million people, and these corps members whose lives and property you want secure and protected, constitute only a small fraction of the country’s population. Shouldn’t you, sir, be concerned about the lives of all Nigerians, not a portion of it?
Your concern for all Nigerians means concern for the corps members, since they are Nigerians also.
I think the life of a corps member is no better than that of a peasant (farmer) living in a village that has never known nor seen any structure erected as a school. In protecting lives, we don’t look at the people or their accomplishments; we just protect them. Let there be security for all Nigerians so that we will not even talk about repealing the NYSC Act because of insecurity.
Sir, I hear you also say that insecurity has necessitated the NYSC management to be giving consideration to posting corps members to their geographical zones, thereby soiling the very objectives upon which the scheme was established.
This assertion, sir, I would ask it be revisited. I was born in Gombe State and now serving in Jigawa state, in Maigatari town, to be exact. It is a town bordering Niger Republic. It is a hundred of kilometers away from my state; it is much of a distance, if you like.
Although many would think and say that I am still in the North, the type of life I am experiencing here is one I have never experienced. For the record, it is not on relocation that I am in Jigawa. No. I did my camp at Fanisau, Dutse, the state’s NYSC permanent orientation camp.
After my online registration, my mind was made up to accept my state of deployment irrespective of where it would be. In fact, I had wanted to be deployed to the southern part of the country. My choice of two southern states was deliberate. I had wanted to be there, to have a sense of what life is there, to let my experience of life transcend that of the North, to explore and appreciate in a better way the beauties of my country. My friends who served in the Southern part of the country still recount how their one year stay there exposed them to experiences and situations no one can change now, for they have lived and seen life there.
But when the posting letter came out, I saw Jigawa State. It didn’t rile me up, knowing that it still meant a year away from home.
While in camp, it is an experience I promised to have in writing. I met many friends, the majority of whom are from the south. I remember how, while doing the plates and other utensils on our platoon’s duty at the kitchen, a conversation between I and other corps members from the south ensued. One of them was amazed at my ability to communicate in English.
She later confessed that she wouldn’t agree, until then, that a Northerner of my education and age could speak English with appreciable proficiency.
The other told me his perception of the North until his deployment to Jigawa. “I didn’t believe there are places in the North that enjoy relative peace. Now I do.” my interlocutor had said.
When you believe in anything you are told without making an independent judgment about it, you are likely to be in the wrong in your stereotypic attempt to judge people.
Before the termination of the orientation course, I had established friendships with many Olayinkas and Achebes. Isn’t this part of the objectives of the scheme?
Two of my newly-found corps member friends share a room with one corps member from the Southwest. In a conversation last week, they told me how scared their roommate and his family were when he first arrived in Jigawa. His family kept calling him, asking if he was fine.
Now our ‘Southern’ friend says he feels at home. His words are always, “things are relatively cheap here”.
Sir, I do not intend to bore you with reading this letter.
But allow me to say a word or two again.
If NYSC must be scrapped, I want you and your colleagues to come forth with another idea that will see to it that graduates are not allowed to wallow in abject poverty searching for jobs. If they can be given N1, 000,000 for start-ups upon graduation, I’d not rebuff the idea. If SAED Training at camp would replace the scheme, I wouldn’t mind it. Let there be skill acquisition training for graduates and adequate capital for start-ups.
Sir, please revisit your proposition on the matter and also call on your colleagues to do so. Thank you!
Rilwan Muhammad, a corps member serving in Maigatari, Jigawa State.