It is no longer news that majority of Nigerians have come to a common agreement regarding the positivity and the prime position of the over 48 years old National Youths Service Corps scheme otherwise known as NYSC.
It is also almost invariably a monotonous repetition of a universal fact that the NYSC is about the only clear, concrete and verifiable national institution that primarily focuses on the legal mandate of teaching the youngsters of Nigeria the positive lessons and goals of national unity, national integration and patriotism. If there is a hope of building a formidable home and place of pride for all citizens both now and in the foreseeable future, then the national springboard for actualisation of that goal is the NYSC.
At a very unfortunate time of unprecedented rate of joblessness amongst the Nigerian Youths (African Development Bank thinks unemployment rate amongst Nigerian youths is about 40%) and invariably ranked as the largest segment of Nigeria’s contemporary population figure, the NYSC is serving as a bulwark against the clear poverty of skills and employability of Nigerian young graduates given the critical and strategic component of the overall syllabus of the one year national service such as Skills acquisitions.
The opportunities provided therefore for hundreds of thousands of young citizens of the largest black democracy in the World to become proficient in one skill or the other including proficiency in information technology and other vocational skills which are implemented by the management for the benefits of the NYSC participants (these young minds) are very enduring legacies that generations yet unborn will be grateful for that our generation bequeathed to them in times to come.
That is if we sustain the momentum of development and the evolutionary trends being rolled out by the forward looking management team at the moment in the NYSC.
The aforementioned logical facts make it of imperative need that the facilities required by the NYSC to disseminate and empower the Nigerian youths with these various life survival skills and strategies, must be in the best of shapes and it does not bear repeating the obvious fact that the NYSC as a National institution that is delivering on its mandates and objectives, should therefore be afforded and provided with the state of the arts facilities beginning with the most primary training facilities known collegially as camps. Philosophers say the first step in every initiative is the most important.
However, the shameful truth is that in most of the 36 states making up the Federating units in which the NYSC Camps are domiciled, a lot of these camps are not habitable and indeed are in need of upgrade as of necessity. The Holy Scripture says, will a parent give his baby a stone in place of bread? So the states must of necessity build 21st century compliant state of the arts facilities as permanent orientation camps.
Not long ago, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) had raised the alarm over the dilapidated conditions of its orientation camp facilities across the country.
This is even as the Scheme noted that the NYSC Trust Fund would make the Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) Programme of the scheme more impactful through provision of training facilities and start-up capital for corps entrepreneurs if passed into law.
Director-General of NYSC, Shuaibu Ibrahim, spoke in Abuja during the 2022 NYSC yearly management conference, which held with the theme, ‘Repositioning the NYSC for Improved Healthcare Delivery, Revenue Generation and Corps Employment for Self-Reliance’.
Ibrahim, recently decorated with the illustrious rank of a Major Geberal by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari noted that since its establishment in 1973, NYSC has continued to play vital roles in areas of national unity and integration, promotion of peaceful co-existence among people of different socio-cultural backgrounds and free movement of labour among others.
He added: “The contributions of the Scheme to national development, particularly in the areas of health, education, rural infrastructure, culture and tourism, sports, conduct of elections and job creation have attracted commendations from within and outside the country.
Detailed documentation of these and other contributions have been made in nine books, which we published and unveiled to the public last year. The Scheme’s accomplishments are also being showcased through our in-house news magazine, print and electronic media and the newly established NYSC Museum/Archives.”
He, however, noted that despite the aforementioned achievements, the Scheme still faces some challenges, saying: “These arise mainly from non-discharge of statutory responsibilities by some critical stakeholders. Problems such as dilapidated Orientation Camp facilities, inadequate Corps Lodges and lack of befitting office accommodation are being contended within some states. Another area of concern has to do with the provision of start-up capital for corps members after acquisition of entrepreneurial skills.”
Whilst the National Assembly is about wrapping up with the rolling out of the enabling legislation for the establishment of this NYSC’S YOUTHS TRUST FUND, the State Governments should be reminded that it is their obligations to provide permanent camps for coppers in such a way that the participants will be in a position to have lifetime great memories of their camping experiences and therefore will become positive supporters and ambassadors of such States throughout their life time.
It was therefore with considerable shock that this writer read that there is for now no permanent camp of the NYSC in Nigeria’s richest state which is Lagos.
From all recorded and available human development indices, Lagos is the most prosperous state in Nigeria and Lagos is one amongst the very few places that have for the past two decades, has had the luck of producing governors with positive disposition towards aggressive modernised infrastructural projects.
The current governor is perpetually seen in the media commissioning one major project or the other. So it is a scandal to note that of all places, Lagos does not have a permanent camp for our Youths doing their yearly national service at the NYSC.
The Lagos State Coordinator of the National Youths Service Corps, Mr Eddy Megwa, had reportedly appealed to the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to commence the construction of the orientation camp.
Speaking at the swearing-in of the 2022 Batch A Stream 1 corps members, Megwa stated that 2,245 corps members were posted to Lagos, saying 969 were males and 1,227 females.
He said the capacity of the camp was no longer adequate for the number of corps members always posted to the Lagos orientation camp.
He said, “We are pleading to the Lagos State Governor to commence the construction of our camp so that we can have a bigger camp.
Due to the inadequacy of space at our current camp, we have had to deploy some prospective corps members to Oyo and Osun States.”
Here are key facts on why Lagos State and indeed all States must build befitting and upgraded permanent camps for the NYSC even before the advent and functionality of the much awaited NYSC’S YOUTHS TRUST FUND.
The facts are that every corps member will be made to pass through the four sections of the National Youth Service Year. The NYSC orientation camp experience is the first and interesting experience to corps members. Some say it’s stressful though, but fun-filled. Here is all about NYSC Orientation Camp:
When graduating students have been mobilized, received their call-up letter and date for the orientation camp fixed, they are allowed three or four days from commencement of the orientation camp to report in camp and get registered. After the deadline, no prospective corps member will be allowed into the camp. Hence, the person remains a “prospective” Corps Member. So it is important to arrive the camp early enough so as to be able to complete your registration on time. The camp is also important in order to fulfill the objectives of the orientation camp.
The Orientation Camp: The necessary arrangements for a successful registration and camp experience must have been put in place by the NYSC authorities before the arrival of the corps members. Different registration points are organize to take you through the various stages of registration and during which corps members are expected to corporate with the registration officials and to be patient with the process. The NYSC officials are there to guide and direct you on anything you may not understand and to train you. So, whenever you are confused about anything, feel free to ask them any question you may want to ask.
Consider the camp a small town as all the facilities you will need is made available there. When you need to buy anything, you visit the mini market. When things begin to get a little daisy with your health, there is a clinic available for you to visit. There is provision of accommodation, bed/mattresses, food, water and kitting for corps members. And, just in passing, those facilities are also at the disposal of the officials to use.
Things to note about registration: During the registration process, the following documents will be requested from you by the registration officials:
Your call-up letter (please do not laminate this document)
Your last institutions ID card
Original certificates/statement of result
When the above mentioned document has been screened, the following will be given to you:
State code number (just for you and not to be shared)
A meal ticket (or meal card)
A file in which you can put all your credentials
Registration of your name in what is referred to as the “Book Of Life”
The NYSC officials will supervise you in filling of the series of NYSC forms.
Also try and display some level of maturity and self-component by waiting for your turn to get anything. What I’m saying in essence is queue up, please don’t scramble for anything.
Concerning meal tickets or what is called item 7 the NYSC states thus: Immediately after you are cleared from the screening point, you’ll be given your meal ticket. This ticket will allow feed during your stay at the orientation camp alone and not outside. Take good care of it as you may not eat from the camp if it gets missing and neither can you get from someone else to eat as this card is not transferable and replaceable.
Concerning accommodation on camp: Every corps member is given a mattress and a place after they have completed their registration, hence the need to arrive on time. No one is permitted to use two mattresses or move his/her mattress to another room neither use up to two bed spaces. No one is also allowed to call in for room services because of the risks involved as regarding your valuables. Everywhere should be kept as clean as possible, the rooms and rest rooms (toilet).
Concerning Orientation Broadcasting Services (OBS): This is a service that disseminates information throughout the camp. This enhances the quick and easy flow of information and this service is managed by the public relations committee. Corps members that possess the skill in or loves engineering and broadcasting are chosen to join the OBS committee.
Concerning Religious Activities at Orientation Camps: Religious activities on camp are conducted according to the guidelines contained in the constitution. Therefore, based on that, the NYSC acknowledges Sundays for Christian worship and Fridays for the Muslims and nothing more. This makes it obvious that no other program is paramount in the orientation camp than the camp activities.
Lectures/Language Studies: Lectures on camp are meant to equip corps members with the adequate knowledge needed for the mission ahead, hence, it is mandatory. Giving your time for the several lectures is never a waste of time as the lectures are always enriched with the necessary information you need.
In addition to the lectures, language studies are organized to equip corps members with the basics of the language of the host state to enhance their communication with the residents of the state after their orientation camp courses.
Concerning Discipline/Security: Priority is placed on discipline, hence the existence of the military on camp. Therefore, every corps member is to conduct his/herself in the best possible manner and by this, we mean stick to the rules. Any corps member who trespasses any rule and is caught will be disciplined as decided by the Orientation Camp Court. Nothing should be done without due permission from the appropriate authorities. Also, everyone is expected to be security conscious and report any doubtful act or movement to the police or any official on camp.
Most importantly, corps members should try as much as possible to be kitted accordingly, for examples, endeavour to the kitting for parade to parade, and that for other programme to such programme.
Concerning Medical Services: All medical cases are being handled by the camp clinic which runs for 24 hours during the orientation exercise and all treatment are administered for free. The clinic is managed by professional medical practitioners.
Accounts Department/Corps Allowances: The account department takes care of coppers allowances. Allowances given on camp include:
Transport allowance (this is paid on arrival at the camp)
Local transport also known as bicycle allowance
Monthly allowance: this is the last allowance given to corps members at the end of their orientation course.
Corps members continue to receive monthly receive their monthly allowance after the orientation camp, but this is granted to them after they have been duly cleared by their employer at the end of every month and issued a clearance. Any corps member who is not cleared will have to forfeit his allowance for that month
The public relations officer issues every corps members on completion of their registration at arrival at camp with the NYSC identity card. This card is legal and not transferable. The NYSC Store Officer also gives the NYSC kit items to corps members. The kit items are to be worn only by registered corps members and these items are:
1 Youth Corps cap
1 Khaki shirt and a trouser
1 Youth Corps belt
1 pair of jungle boots
2 P.E. shorts
1 vest with NYSC emblem
1 pair of white canvas shoes
2 pairs of stockings
Once the kit is given, all mode of dressing should be done accordingly for easy identification of corps members and outsiders for security purpose.
Camp activities: Camp activities are carried out with discipline to time and rules and every corps member is expected to comply for a smooth and successful orientation camp experience. Some of the activities are: Military parade/drills
Man O War activities
As earlier said, the orientation camp operates with a lot of rules of which some are:
Also, Cultism is a taboo on camp. It is highly prohibited
Drug addiction has no place at the camp
Stealing is an abomination on camp. Do not attempt it.
Rioting/demonstration and the likes are not part of paramilitary
Group meetings are not allowed on camp
Rape is a serious crime against humanity
Fighting on camp attracts severe penalty
Taking double ration of food makes one liable for surcharge
Flippancy and unguarded utterances attract severe punishment
Ensure that you participate in all camp activities
Avoid rumour mongering, always seek information at the appropriate quarters.
Be prudent in spending. Remember you will settle down for your primary assignment.
Smoking/chewing of gum are not allowed on parade
Always observe the lights-out instruction
Discipline is the watchword in NYSC
All activities on the camping program are designed for your own good; so comply.
A careful perusal of the above loaded etiquette of the NYSC’S camps and the comprehensive scheme of work in application during camping, it is therefore compelling that Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu should aim at delivering a state of the arts FACILITIES as a permanent NYSC’S orientation Camp and I can assure him if no one does, this writer who is also a political and media strategist, will campaign for his re-election freely as soon as the permanent camp is built and delivered.
It can be done before the governorship primary election this year.
Yes, it can!
EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and one time National Commissioner of the NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF NIGERIA (NHRC).