The 2011 NYSC Batch ‘B’ Orientation commenced on the 5th of July 2011 and is expected to last until the 26th. Recent news reports have it that prospective NYSC corps members had previously besieged the NYSC National secretariat in Abuja to influence their postings away from potential trouble spots or otherwise what is now known as ‘Boko Haram’ states in the North. I find it hard to believe that barely 3 months after innocent youth corps members were slaughtered in some states in the North following the last Presidential elections and all the hoopla that followed, it does appear that the issue has since faded away to obscurity and in typical Nigerian fashion it’s business as usual. We seem to pretend like nothing ever happened and the lives of those brave young men and women and others that were killed seems to have been forgotten reinforcing the argument that human life in our country seems to be worth very little. The truth remains that the wounds of what happened in the April elections is still fresh in the mind made worse by the lack of any purposeful action taken to bring those responsible to justice and the inability of the National Assembly or civil society to hold any form of public debate about the future of the NYSC scheme. In the light of these atrocities, why would any sane parent or relative allow their children to serve in these states where insecurity currently rules? Or are we waiting for another disaster to happen only to hear dull speeches from politicians telling us how those killed are heroes of democracy and paid the ultimate sacrifice? Well enough of that, we want our brightest young men and women to be alive to apply their skills and knowledge to the challenges that confronts us everyday as a nation.We don’t want dead heroes but we want them alive to contribute to nation building.
On the flipside, when these sort of things happen I am left wondering what those whom this will affect directly are doing about it or is it a case of all man for himself and God for us all? Let me start by challenging the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) whose mandate is to represent the interest of Nigerian students and youths. When are they going to start engaging the powers that be on issues like this which is at the very heart of any interest group that claims to speak on behalf of students and youths? What have the prospective corps members done or are doing to mobilise themselves to engage their Governors and National Assembly members in their states in order to create publicity and also to give it the attention it deserves; to also ensure they were not posted to places where their lives might be in danger. Then we take a close look at the role of the media in all this; who sets the news agenda in the Nigerian media and why has this not taken a prominent news space in the editorials and columnists?
It is sad if you believe the papers that their has been intense lobbying by individuals to influence their postings to state where they desire to serve. Who is going to lobby for those without ‘connections’ in high places? It is high time we began to be selfless in our thoughts and actions if we are ever going to challenge the status quo in our society. In the wider context, this highlights the ignorance and lack of cohesion in the way we advocate for change in Nigeria. I am very worried going by the recent spate of bomb blasts especially in some sections of country. The whole despicable atrocities that happened after the April elections is staring us in the face if urgent steps are not taken to address the NYSC scheme. There has got to be sweeping reforms on the future of the scheme and on the interim corps members should be posted to states within their region pending the outcome of reforms. I do like the NYSC scheme and what it stands for being a product of the scheme myself but its current format and the danger it exposes our young and brightest is unsustainable.
Our country is at a crossroad and the least we could now is to engage in collective engagement to address the issues that has held us hostage in the last 50 years. If we keep speaking and acting in discordant tunes them I’m afraid our collective short memory which has become an albatross of some sort will come to haunt us later.