BURNING POT BY PRINCE CHARLES DICKSON
Arise o’ Corper shun
It's Sunday and I am watching the collation of results for the concluded Kogi state gubernatorial elections, while many where concerned with whether the broom or umbrella was heading to the Government House, I was concerned like my friend Uncle Freddy with the "numbo-jumbo" of the dudes called returning officers, a host of them senior lecturers that could barely read, possibly write English.
Some struggled to tally the total of figures for the local government they supervised. And memories of our beloved Prof and Vice Chancellor during the last Presidential elections, who needed movie red headlight to read his own handwriting surfaced.
Still in the Kogi state light, it was sad to see respected columnist, opinion and thought leaders bamboozle Kogites to the fallacy that they were laid bare between the devil and demons, when indeed there are 24 other parties, one of which could have provided them with a near saint.
Let me quickly state, I am not one of those that consider English language as a sign of civility, knowledge or even common sense, but I add that generally our education has been thrown to the dogs, and it is the essence of my admonition today.
So, to my brief, which is the story of three Corp members, Abdul, Chukwudi and Balogun. A blunt and bitterly truthful of our current situation in Nigeria.
The National Youth Service Corps was introduced by the Gowon administration, a short summary of the programme: a one year period for graduates of our tertiary institutions to integrate and learn, and contribute by being stationed in a state other than where they studied, and where they hail from.
Over the years from one set every year, we now have batch A and B, soon there may be even a C and D batches, with the pace at which our institutions are churning graduates out (whether baked full, half or quarter).
Now young adults wait for one year, because one set is still on, and their respective schools did not meet the required dates. So, like Chukwudi he graduated in 2013 his school had issues releasing their results, internal strikes, and he finally made it to camp in 2015.
For the young lad and graduate of agricultural extension services, first shock was, he was posted to a law firm, for me, I thought he could make valuable inputs in agriculture related litigation for the firm, however the firm turned him down.
Abdul, a graduate of economics from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, on getting to the Government Secondary School he was posted to, he was turned down...the operational word is 'rejected'. He told me he would have preferred his first choice of service, which was Kano.
Indeed I learned from him that they now have an offer of three choices for the mandatory one-year programme. My thoughts, with three choices, many a number would serve in same state they schooled or even hail from.
This itself is against the very spirit for which the service was initiated. I recall when this intervention started state governments not only picked best Corp members, but equally sponsored matrimonial conjugation for Corp members who found love in the state during the year.
However, for many it's one month of Sodom and Gomorrah at the camp for these young adults, as wild oats are sowed indiscriminately. Talking about the camps, many states sites are not worthy of being used of old Nazi camps. Some governors even use the camps as tools for laundering state funds...Sadly so.
Then, to Balogun, I could not call him a young adult, with beards all over and his matured baritone voice; all I could see was a fake eaglet. He confessed he was pass the official age, but "sir, I am better than those that are serving their second year on purpose." I shuddered almost in shock, because very little shocks me, after all two years ago, a completely fake camp was discovered somewhere between Nassarawa state and Abuja FCT, with kits and all the administrative paraphernalia.
Is it not the Nigeria that geography graduate said Canada was in Europe, and the two biggest countries in Africa were Asia and Nigeria.
Anyway, Balogun, despite his age, had a supposedly good certificate, if you know what I mean, but he was 'rejected' by the local government authorities where he was posted.
His case is not peculiar, in many states; it's all rejection galore, from economic reasons to issues bothering on the quality of these graduates.
For the Corp authorities, it's so sad how arrangements are made in higgledy-piggledy manner, leaving these youth and adult Corp members to all forms of exploitation. Women both young and adult are exposed to the whines and caprice of hunters, who attack them in their vulnerability.
Besides all these, it's sad to see what I refer to as common corruption, such as what is referred to choice posting, where for a good greasing of the hand you determine both state and place of primary assignment. There are also cases of those that do not even serve, but grease the necessary hands.
Countless women manufacture some change of name document so as to circumvent the system. Age cheats everywhere; heavily pregnant and nursing women litter the whole place.
I started this admonition with the clowns that could barely collate and properly read election results from Kogi state. I end with the following narrative; recently a Nigerian governor blamed the rains for his inability to do a single road in seven years. It was same governor whom I recall in the early days of his administration questions were raised about his primary and modern school qualifications.
The current picture is one of symptomic failure in the systems and institutions, we need a total overhaul of the system, the Minister for education, the NYSC (to be or not) have an unenviable task, whether we want to repair, pretend all is well, or just deal with it--only time will tell.