By Polycarp Onwubiko
Punch Newspaper Editorial June 6 2023 was, stunningly realistic, emphatic, point-blank and covered all grounds that have rendered NYSC clearly unnecessary and irrelevant in this day and age in Nigeria.
The newspaper should be commended for the courage to call for the scraping of the program established in 1973 by the General Yakubu Gowon Military Regime out of childish emotions without adequate provision and preparations and housing accommodation, for the Graduates. suffer greatly as Government is not prepared to fund it properly.
Military Regime never pretended that they are good in administration; everything about them is kill, kill, kill! They cannot think through a programme or conduct feasibility studies to ascertain the short, medium, and long term implications of the projects and programmes they fancy in their minds trained for killing.
While the programme of NYSC was considerable at the end of the Civil War, common sense dictates that it should take about five years for its proper planning and execution. Firstly is proper housing accommodation in all the Communities within each local government areas in the country. Also, a local government councils office is very important for coordinating the affairs of the graduates living in the communities.
More importantly, basic amenities and facilities ought not be taken for granted in the communities for the comfort of the NYSC members. Sadly, all these key facilities were never reckoned with by the military jackboots. Of course that is primitive mentality of black man, quite unlike the white man who believes that human beings need proper taking care of.
Sadly, 50 years of the programme of NYSC, the federal government has never thought it expedient and proper to build houses with required amenities in all the Communities for the NYSC members. The normal and silly expectation is “oh, go for NYSC and make sacrifice for your country”. That is the crude mindset of African man!
Punch Newspaper Editorial covered the unspeakable atrocities and unbelievable privation being confronted by the NYSC members in the bid to be patriotic in supposedly serving their father land whose leadership don’t care about their welfare. The Federal Government has been so mean for not considering it proper to pay the NYSC members the salary of graduates in the public service which is GL 08. Rather, they are paid peanut, now it is N30,000 which is the minimum wage of GL 01 worker in the public service, how shameful indeed!
Need I talk about the dangers the NYSC members are exposed to such as automobile mishaps, terrorists attacks which had consumed hundreds of NYSC members in the northern part of the country yet, nothing was done about it like outright scrapping of the programme which was not appreciated by power mongers and hawks.
It amounts to crass irresponsibility for the Federal Government to be paying the NYSC members a paltry and misery N30,000 in this hyper inflationary time in the country, but who cares? A country; where conscience , equity, fairness and justice are thrown to the dogs. A presidential candidate had the temerity to direct his conscienceless supporters to kill, rig, destroy ballot boxes and falsify votes to make him win because “power is not served ala cater but fought for and taken by force” and he succeeded!
NYSC members suffer privations in search of house to live during the one year period but Government never cares. It is these gross anomalies that prompted the Punch Newspaper Editorial which recommended outright scrapping of the NYSC and over 98% of Nigerians backed it. It is a mark of primitive antics and mindset on the part of the Federal Government to continue to make NYSC members pass through hell fire in the name of serving their fatherland.
These graduates are entitled for dignity in terms of housing accommodation and adequate remuneration. Fact remains that if the Federal Government cannot live up to the decent demands of the NYSC members, the sane option is to scrap the programme or make it purely OPTIONAL because there are human beings who feel comfortable in privations and suffering.
Polycarp Onwubiko is Public Policy Analyst.