By Ogungbile Emmanuel Oludotun
It’s will be of no bizzare fact if I bear out that the 1914 Lord Lugard amalgamation mothered the present day Nigeria of over 200 million people residing in the shores of its geographical locations. With a dynamic population comprising of the present day complexity, one which is weighed in the diversity of our brands of cultures. The ‘consequential’ amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates was matched up to birthing out the peace and unity from these incompatible people of dissimilar culture and religion. A task which they thought the merging of these two regions will achieve.
Consequently, many years after the amalgamation, it was perceived that the so much reason for the commingling of all these people didn’t come to stay as predicted. The ‘Nigeria country and it people’ veered out of it purpose into the ‘bad pretensions’, with the two subjects of concentration cannot but sink daily and helplessly in the pool of discordance and incompatibility. Her inter-ethnic clashes, inter-religious fights, the civil war case of 1967 and many others would not seize to grow unceasingly in all intensity. It‘s thus evident that only the geographic landmass and locations were the only thing amalgamated and not even the leaders nor it people.
Therefore, there was a quick need to find an effective solution to this problem. Wherefore it was a thing of emergency to mother out an exigency scheme that will encompass unity amidst Nigerians, most especially after the civil war quagmire.
The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) came up in the light of it in 1973 with the intention of fixing the conundrum of disunity that Nigerians have been battling with, most especially to stitch harmony in the minds of Nigerians. Indeed it was created by decree of post civil war plan to “RECONSTRUCT, RECONCILE, AND REBUILD the country after the bitter civil war which claimed millions of lives”. It was designed by the then military government led by General Yakubu Gowon to foster national integration and to engage fresh Nigerian graduates of tertiary institutions in national development. The NYSC scheme was set up with a view to the “proper encouragement and development” of common ties among the youths of Nigeria and the promotion of national unity by posting of young graduates outside their home states. However, the Youth corps scheme didn’t wait for it lasting fufilment. There would be thus no need to conceal but reveal that NYSC has become this lion’s den and jeopardizing band vulnerable to religious and ethnicity riots of reasons that are still unknown to the populace.
Looking back after 47 years of NYSC scheme establishment, together with her emblem of nourishing peace and unity among young graduates, one can blatantly say that the system had failed in her course to uphold the purpose of national unity that she was created for. It seems to have lost its valuation and her priced pretensions. Corps members resides in everyday dangers and harzards, with their lives regularly trapped in the legs of attacks from insurgencies and inter-ethnic pickles. It’s no news that many get bumped off and decimated while serving their father’s land, Nigeria.
Consequently, as NYSC is getting closer to 50 years of existence, it is obvious and yowling that the scheme is not living up to its expectations. The programme has failed to achieve her ambitions and aspirations, as It was believed that all Nigerians who went through the program would be provided with a good guidance and orientation according to the needs of the whole Nigeria. The objective also hoped to make them more amenable to mobilization in national interest, inculcating a sense of patriotism and loyalty. Now, the National Youth Service Corps is this mare’s nest, no wonder a writer once described the situation that “while the objectives of NYSC remains undoubtedly noble, the crisis that has apparently bedeviled their implementation has compelled a re-think of it’s founding vision”.
Without much Ado my dear readers, it’s evident that NYSC chimera has been compromised and tampered with. Corpers are exposed to many unimaginable vunerabilities. Take for instance for corps members who are used for National assignments, such as Elections and National Population Census. Though voluntary to participate in, these young people are exposed to all sorts of dangers, especially during elections. The large scale violence visited on unarmed NYSC members used a polling booth officers showed that corps members have become regular victims of politicians’ lust and struggle for political power. Some of them have been brazenly killed by agents of politicians during elections. The scene of nepotism and tribalism cannot be under emphasized, the unfair favours being given to some corps members over their other mates is becoming unbearable. Some members also serving in the North East will not seize to witness grueling incidents in the hands of terrorists, most especially in states like Borno, Adamawa, Yobe and the likes where the lives of this people are massively in threat. The Government of today however seems not to be concerned about upholding the aims and objectives of NYSC by not making the environment condusive for youth services to their father’s land. The unity is polluted, and no one seems to be taking about how this system has failed us, and will continue to fail us, if nothing substantial is introduced as soon as possible.
In conclusion, if the crux of Nigeria’s National unity will be solved permanently through National Youth Service Corps, there would be a swift need for a attachment of this scheme with other political and other social processes of national transformation.
Government must be ready to fine-tune, revamp and rectify the youth corps scheme till it’s not only seen as a complusory act but as a duty of national unity. There must be a gurantee of corps members safety to ensure them serving the country without the fear of menace or death. The vision of NYSC must also continue to be bulwarked and palisaded, as the Nigeria government should not think of scrapping the scheme but restructuring it, that it might enhance the national integration which we have been pretensioning since amalgamation.
Ogungbile Emmanuel Oludotun is a Public Affairs Analyst.