By Prince Ejeh Josh
Dear compatriot corps members. Just like a dream, one full calendar year has sluggishly crawled by, leaving behind traces of your impacts right from the Orientation Camp to your Places of Primary Assignments; on the NYSC officials, students, ministries and those who came in contacts with you; this may take either positive or negative perspectives.
Regardless of that, I am compelled to applaud your effort in facilitating the much touted, tedious national integration by saying, congratulations. I, thereof, rejoice with you on the occasion of your passing out ceremony. “e no easy o.”, “to be corper no be moi – moi.”
On this special note, permit me, ladies and gentlemen, to welcome you to the reality on ground in Nigeria. This is in respect to the fact that as corps members just like students, you were duly insulated from the harsh reality ravaging the nation’s economic system through, say, subvention, allowances, supplies and moral support from both family members and governments. The effect of this is (that), corps members are not allowed to experience the exposure of what transpires outside the ideal world of National Youth Service Corps Members’ Scheme. The little allowances you were receiving then helped to absorb shock that may likely emanate from the world “outside there”.
The implication of this means that outgoing corps members leave the scheme ill prepared for the tedious task ahead. In NYSC, regardless the much speculated, often inefficient and unproductive, Skills Acquisitions and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED), corps members are meant to construct the world outside there as a lofty, euphoric and perfect place where “already made” jobs are awaiting them to make preferences or choices. They’re inundated with consistent illusions. This illusory drive would present a seamless constructivism before them. For example, there’s this belief that there won’t be hurdles to pass through after NYSC programme. The thinking is that the near reckless life of “corpers” would continue to unfold seamlessly.
Compatriot corps members, unfortunately, sooner will you realise than later that your monthly Federal and State governments’ allowances will be henceforth, withdrawn immediately after your Passing Out Parade (POP) ceremony. This couples with your family expectation that they have done their (own) part and contributed immensely towards your personal development. Then, the baton, to them, has been shifted and given to you. You’re now the owner of your destiny. Shalom.
A month or few months after service, you realize once more that your allowances are not forthcoming, and no invitation for job interviews from where you had earlier applied, then, delusion and frustration start setting in. This is a point where you will begin to realize that our economy is in distress and breathing on a life raft, and that nobody is ready to listen to your cry. Your first impression; “why is it that these people hate me much to this extent? Or am I becoming ugly or just too annoying to their liking?” No, you’re not. This is a clear message that everybody has a burden to carry. It’s your turn!
Fellow compatriots, it’s not too late for now. There’s still light at the end of the tunnel if only you can preserver to embrace, say, entrepreneurial spirit and go for skill acquisitions. To make the world ease for you and escape from the scourge of poverty caused by joblessness and unemployment, you can do something now. Why not try acquiring skills such as, fashion and designing, fire-works, business, saloon, plumbing, laundry, etc., in a way sauced and polish with creativity that will distinguish your works from others?
Now is the time, young “corper”. The markets are already filled with joblessness. Put blatantly, your much admired “favour markets” are already saturated with “ex-corps members”. Few days ago, I had interacted with some corps members who will be passing out of the scheme in less than two weeks about their plans after service, and the answers I got from them were quite interesting: according to them, they would want to “pick up” jobs immediately after their discharge. “Which jobs?” I curiously asked them. Don’t be deceived into believing what is not real. Our corps members must, therefore, be part of the solution to their problems. You too can be employer of labour rather than waiting for your labor power to be commodified. A stitch in time, put aptly, saves nine.
Prince Ejeh Josh writes from Enugu.
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