21 Nov 2012
GIVING BACK TO SOCIETY……. TO GIVE OR NOT TO GIVE?
going to find ourselves at the end of the orientation. They termed it CDS (community development service), I call it giving back. At least to the best of my knowledge, devoting ones time to the development of one’s host community would mean to give back to such a community. They always stressed the fact that we would have to come together either in groups, or as individuals to do something for whatever community we find ourselves, something tangible, that according to them could fetch a corp member “national honors”. To be honest, personally, I heard them, their lectures, their advice, but I did not listen.
My problem with the whole idea was borne out of my utter disdain for the way even the NYSC officials carried themselves in camp. It did not stop there, my problem with the whole idea continued when I began my primary assignment. I have always been a strong believer in leadership by example; after preaching and preaching about how we as youths were meant to save portions of our “allowee” to start a project in our host communities, I was appalled at what I saw when I visited the NYSC secretariat in Ilorin. The office of the state cord looked like it hadn’t been renovated since it was first built in probably the late 70’s; in addition, the other offices in the compound looked like it had been abandoned and reoccupied by its inhabitants over the years. My question then was, is NYSC Kwara trying to imply that they do not have enough in their coffers to renovate their own offices! I mean, almost every NYSC liason office in every local government in this state looks the same, ugly and uncared for! I ask myself, are they waiting on the state government to “lend a helping hand” where they could easily appropriate funds to take care of their own offices? Yet, these same people would preach to corp members to use part of the token we get as federal government allowance to take up a project and give back to society? In my opinion, it is not done.
I know I might sound selfish, and maybe a bit rebellious, but the truth of the matter remains that you can not always try to convince someone to go a particular way when you keep going the other way. Kwara state Nysc is quite notorious for a number of things; first they tend to withhold even the federal government allowance, and so when corp members in other states get their pay, ours always comes late. You can imagine the amount of “gbese” a corp member would have incurred before getting paid, yet someone expects these same corp members to “give back”?
I speak for corp members who would want to give back in the real sense, but don’t have enough extra financial resources to pull such off. Most of us already give back to our communities by the singular act of teaching alone! I personally receive only my federal government allowance, yet I teach a total of seven (7) classes, cutting across three subjects, and I don’t get paid by the school. Sometimes one has to buy textbooks to use as teaching aids in these schools, yet this is still not seen as “giving back”. It is even a general practice among most principals and even staff in most of the government schools here to heap more work than normal on corp members. If one tries to complain, they’d tell you that you have no choice because you are serving your nation. It is at times like that I regret ever singing that anthem of ours: “under the sun or in the rain, with dedication and selflessness” for goodness sake, corp members don’t have to carry the burden of giving back to society alone!
I believe in giving back to society, I believe in using the education I have been able to acquire for the good of others; however, I feel there should be a balance in the execution of community development service. Most of the CDS groups created with the intention of giving back to society have lost their essence as far as I am concerned. Most times some people are only interested in attending meetings and marking their CDS cards, which in some parts is a pre-requisite for your monthly clearance (here that doesn’t fly), and at the end of the day, nothing really tangible gets done. Don’t get me wrong, there are some CDS groups that really reach out to people, like PET, that provide peer education on issues like HIV and AIDs, and the MDGs that focus on spreading millennium development goals and all, but there’s still no real spark as far as am concerned. Personally, I believe NYSC officials too should play a part in giving back to the communities that host them. It is not enough to just supervise and criticize, they should play an important part in it too. For instance, most of the projects done by past corp members are most times left to rot after the first few years of their establishment. It is general knowledge that corp members come and go, and so majority of these projects completed would be left unmanned when the initiator leaves the state. In my Local government, there is a garri processing factory, which was set up by a corp member in 2008, now the place no longer functions. What does the NYSC as a body do to sustain and maintain all these projects?
Giving back to society as a youth can be really tasking sometimes, especially when the people you look up to do nothing to inspire you to do such. If there was more leadership by example, a lot of things that go wrong in this country would have been better off. The NYSC as an organization owes it to the growing number of corp members it “mentors” quarterly to lead by example, they don’t have to wait on the federal government to do everything.
2012 9JEducation.org work-study