By: OLÁWUNI Mustapha
When the armed forces blow the bugle, around 5:00AM, it’s a call to rise for the daily activities, this act prepares one for the tasks ahead either as a civil servant or as an independent entrepreneur who is an employer of labour.
As a graduate of University of Ibadan currently serving at Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area of Rivers State, I believe the task of building our nation truly lies on the youths and we owe ourselves a duty to obey the clarion call.
The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) which is a scheme of the Federal Government of Nigeria to mobilize graduates across the country is indeed a sustainable scheme but it is quite unfortunate that some youths are reluctant to adhere strictly to what they have sworn to uphold.
The members of the armed forces including The Nigerian Army, Man O’War and other paramilitary groups trained us on basic combat and security cum physical fitness while NYSC officials introduced us to the scheme’s objectives which are basically; reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation.
The introduction of Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) programme to make corp members be employers of labour and stand on their own is a welcome development. With the existing Community Development Service (CDS) programme, it is aimed at developing corp members’ host communities and Places of Primary Assignment (PPA) with a view to leaving the community and PPA better than they were met.
SAED and CDS if properly and effectively put into practice are geared towards actualizing the cardinals of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).
When corp members receive their placement letter indicating their place of primary assignment and its location, it is pathetic that some corp members liaise with the heads of their PPA, the Local Government Inspector and even some staff of the State secretariat to change their location.
I was posted to Community Secondary School Kalama/Opobo in Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area of Rivers State and upon receiving the posting, I went to the warehouse to sign for a life jacket because the region is a riverine settlement.
With my life jacket on me, many of my colleagues were shocked to see such enthusiasm while some advised that I redeploy or relocate to Port-Harcourt, the State capital. My response was in form of a question “who else will develop Opobo Kingdom?”
The above poser left them with no other option than to remain silent. My interest in serving anywhere irrespective of the location is in conformity with the NYSC anthem:
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!
At the Ministry of Education, Osun State School of Science Ile-Ife where I attended my Senior Secondary School, corp members were posted there to teach students science courses and most of them are from Rivers, Imo, Enugu, Anambra while few from Plateau and Northern States. The impact they made in my life is immeasurable and since then I have vowed to serve my father’s land with all commitment which coincides with the slogan of my platoon at NYSC orientation camp, “Platoon 5 stands for commitment”. As such I do not have any moral justification and right to redeploy or relocate from where NYSC has posted me to undergo my one year compulsory national service.
Kalama axis comprises of 6 villages which are Minimah, Iloma, Hya-Minimah, Oloma, Ekpelemma, Ekreborokri.
These settlements have no public power supply, banks, market, and other social amenities which discouraged most of my colleagues from staying. They rather opted for relocation while those that agreed to stay made little or no extra effort to develop the community and their PPA.
There were also ghost cases (absentee corp members) perpetrated by corp members in connivance with the PPA head and the NYSC Local Government Inspector and sometimes the Zonal Inspector. This act is a bane to Nigeria’s development and I advise that the Federal Government should introduce Biometric caption during the monthly vouching to eradicate ghosting by corp members during national service.
After carefully studying my environment, I initiated a development programme for the school and the host community. As the Convener of the Education and ICT development group at my PPA, I choose a Co-Convener in person of Okoh Saraphina who is from Delta State and studied at Madonna University Anambra State.
We facilitated the procurement of a tricycle and a motorcycle to ease movement of staffs and students from far villages within the Kalama axis down to the school, we procured two sets of typewriters to teach students the basic typing skills and how to operate a typewriter. We also procured school uniforms for 7 students, organized end of the year party for staffs and students, distributed wrappers and other welfare packages and also organized a quiz and debate competition in the school to improve the students academic commitment among other projects.
The rate of pregnancy among the ages of 14-19 at Kalama axis is rampant so we organised a seminar to sensitize the ladies on abstinence and the need to focus on education vis-à-vis training them on Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI).
Despite the water barrier in my host community, I have been able to contribute my own quota to the development of my dear nation and humbly urge youths to obey the clarion call and shun the act of ghosting during national service with a view to lifting our nation high among other nations.