The National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) has been in the news of late regarding the living standards of NYSC orientation camps, as well as the safety of corps members during the mandatory service year that sees graduates of Nigerian universities posted to parts of Nigeria for national integration purposes.
This medium researched select NYSC orientation camps across the country to get the pulse of Corp members regarding their experiences in orientation camps and their places of primary assignment.
According to Ms Anabel Okechukuw (not real names), the NYSC has provided her with the long-awaited opportunity to experience life outside her state of origin. For Anabel, she has all her education in Abia state. Leaving Abia to Gombe state was initially scary, given what she has read about the north in most newspapers.
“The experience is different. My parents did all that they could to get a redeployment for me to no avail. My father asked me to be brave. The journey from Abia to Gombe was smooth. When I arrived at Gombe, I thought that was it, until I had to commute another 32.5Km from Gombe metropolis to Mallam Sidi, where you had the NYSC Orientation camp.”
“My experience at the camp was awesome. I made friends and consumed lots of watermelon. The camp facilities were in excellent shape. My parents didn’t believe all I told them about Gombe state that I had to do a WhatsApp video call to allay their fears.”
Ms Anabel’s story wasn’t different from that of other Corp members interviewed at the Mallam Sidi orientation camp and in some parts of Gombe state undertaking their mandatory service year. The general consensus is that of social interaction, bridge building and friendship across tribes and religions.
The case of Anike from Oyo state presents a story of how the NYSC has been fostering religious and ethnic tolerance amongst Nigerians. Anike is happily married to Usman from Taraba state. They met at the Rivers state NYSC orientation camp in Nowa Gbam Tai. For the couples, love-struck regardless of ethnic or religious affiliations. And today, they are happily married with a child.
“Our story would have been incomplete without our participation in the NYSC scheme. We believe that there are many others whose paths have crossed as a result of the NYSC scheme. And today, they are still relishing the NYSC experience.”
When asked about the usefulness of the NYSC scheme in the lives of youths in the country, they stated that its service could not be overemphasized.
“During the NYSC programmes, my husband was a beneficiary of the Skills and Entrepreneurship Development programmes. Today is an employer of labour, and we have been living our lives in peace. Even though I wasn’t keen on any of the programmes, I later realized that I missed an opportunity, but thank God my husband took it”
In Lagos state, the NYSC orientation camp in Iyana Ipaja was a beehive of activities. Corp members were actively engaged in camp activities. A visit around the camp facilities revealed a facility that is in top shape to accommodate Corp members. Those interviewed spoke in glowing terms about their experiences in the camp.
Richard from Akwa Ibom state stated that after his NYSC programme, he intends to settle down in Lagos to pursue a career. “I believe Lagos is the place for me, given the avalanche of opportunities. I have also indicated interest to partake in the various skill acquisition programmes introduced by the NYSC.
In an interaction with the Lagos State coordinator of the NYSC, Mr Cyril Akhanemhe, he stated that the Lagos state government had indicated interest to equip the NYSC orientation camp further to accommodate more corp members.
“As you can see, the facilities in the camp are in good shape, and that is not to say that we would not strive to improve on them. As you may know, the traffic to Lagos state is high. As such, we have been proactive in engaging the Lagos state government concerning facilities upgrade. The response has been positive so far.
In Katsina State, our correspondent who visited the NYSC orientation camp interacted with scores of Corp members about their experiences so far. The consensus was that of a peaceful and exciting exercise. When asked about the security situation in the state, most of them stated that there was adequate security in camps and the corpers lodges around the state.
According to one of the heads of the security agencies in the state, who pleaded anonymity, he stated that the security of Corp members takes premium. Inactive collaboration with the NYSC secretariat, the state government ensures that corp members are not posted to areas of risk to their lives.
The story was not different at the NYSC orientation camp in Kano state. Our correspondent gathered that the camp is fitted with state-of-the-art facilities and Corp members spoke glowingly about the facilities in the camp.
According to Chinwe, a graduate of the University of Nigeria, when she was posted to Kano state, she almost passed out because of fear of the unknown and insecurity. “I felt sick when I saw my posting to Kano state. But I can tell you that the experience has been awesome. The facilities in camps are good, the food is very okay, and the social interactions have been awesome. It feels like home, but for the morning drills.”
Elisha Ambrose also corroborated Chinwe. He stated that the Kano NYSC orientation camp experience is pleasant. He would encourage prospective Corp members to lobby to be posted to Kano State. “The camp in Kano state is a place to be. The hostels are neat, and the food is also delicious.”
The same story resonates across Nasarawa, Plateau, Bauchi, Adamawa, Enugu, Anambra and Abuja, where corp members praised the state of the camps, but for a few instances where some corp members could not hide their dislike for the food.
In all, the verdict of this medium is that the state of the NYSC camps across the country is befitting. Kudos must be extended to the management of the NYSC for ensuring that the orientation camp exercise is eventful, as well as satisfying for all corp members regardless of what state they were posted to for their primary assignment.