19 Oct 2012

The NYSC & The North.

The recent posting of Batch B corps members into the crisis-ridden north has elicited  mixed, if not completely negative feelings amongst the "corpers”, and the country as a whole. The northern states in Nigeria are notorious for their riots and also as a hub of activity for resident terrorist group; Boko Haram who express their want for religious equality by killing innocent lamb. After spending three months at home patiently waiting for their call up letters, several of these freshly graduated students have been asked to plunge themselves into the red zones of Yobe, Borno, Plateau or Kaduna State for a mandatory year-long service.

One can only imagine the sheer terror these students must feel, weeks before they have even been deployed. Which only makes their next course of action a proper fit for the situation; the set of graduates refused to resume at the camp and subsequently  decided to reject their call up letters. According to the NYSC decree established by  General Gowon administration in 1973 shortly after the civil war; a corps member does not have the moral jurisdiction to reject call up to duty. We all know duty won’t be possible once there is no life with which to perform it.

The dangerous effect these volatile states might and will have on the lives of the young graduates are unimaginable. The third arm of the law is ineffective in curtailing the excesses of these bloody sects. Since the government cannot guaranty the safety of its serving corp members, it would be foolhardy for the NYSC managements to resist the reposting of the corpers from the affected states to prevent a monumental national tragedy. While the corpers may not be allowed to reject posting under NYSC law, the Nigerian 1999 constitution rejects posting of people to places where their lives are under threat.

 Youth obey the Clarion call,

Let us lift our nation high

Under the Sun or in the Rain

With dedication and selflessness
Nigeria is ours Nigeria we serve….

The third sentence in this stanza, I recall during my Service year has often been used to undermine our safety. If I am to obey the “clarion call” and serve “under the sun or in the rain” then adequate.  In April 2011, during the post election crisis that occurred in Bauchi State, 10 corps members were lost to election violence that was preventable. The affected families were paid the sum of 5Million Naira in a terribly ironic gesture. The President promised that those who lost their lives would not die in vain and the killers would be brought to book; you can assess this statement to know if Justice has truly prevailed. 

Now we can feel the pain these graduates who values their lives more than the government should, they understand that no adequate protection in form of lip service can deter their future plans. Their parents have endured torturous undergraduate years, only to be served with the news of their child/children going to serve in Nigeria’s centre of hostility. Even the President has tactically refused to visit the major crisis-ridden States in the North, allaying fears of no quick solution to the North insurgences.

A graduate of the University of Ibadan, Dr. Isiah said his posting to Yobe State was unwelcomed. According to him, none of his colleagues were averse to serving Nigeria as a corps member but that they were not in a hurry to die “a senseless, needless and avoidable death.”           

He said,

“I graduated from U.I. I studied Medicine. I, and most of my colleagues you see here today, am here to seek alternative posting to other states because of the security situation in the north.

 “Our families made sacrifices to get us where we are today. I, for one, cannot go to Yobe State if the President who is the Commander- In-Chief of the Armed Forces does not feel safe to go there; who am I, an ordinary citizen, to go there?

Another prospective corps member, Mr. Chiedu Okoye, a graduate of Agric-Economics from the University of Maiduguri, said although he was born and bred in the north, he had had too many close shaves with death to accept his posting to Jos (Plateau State).

He said,
“I have spent a greater part of my life in the north but I cannot serve anywhere in the north. Just this January I escaped from Maiduguri with a gunshot wound".

According to the data obtained by The PUNCH, about 1,050 corps members were posted to Borno State, the same number were also posted to Yobe State.

Gombe, Kano and Kaduna states had 2,500 each; Bauchi had 1,500, while 2,300 were posted to Plateau State. This no doubt confirms the NYSC management’s level of insensitivity to the security of these graduates. It’s left to the affected corps member to stand and demand rightful protocol. 

Wale Bakare

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