Monday 29 September 2014

NYSC’s N4,000 Extortion And The Rest Of Us - by Jon Chikadibie Okafo

Nigeria, our dear country, is one place where really very bizarre things happen. Often times, happenings here leave one wondering how those in authorities arrive at certain decisions that affect us all. Prof. Wole Soyinka once suggested that policymakers in Nigeria, in a bid to fleece the system, organise a dodgy contraption as a means to their shady ends.

This is the case of the National Youth Service Corps under the leadership of Brig. Gen. Johnson Bamidele Olawumi. Under this fine gentleman, the NYSC has introduced a policy that is nothing short of pure wickedness in action. Intending corps members who are mandated to serve the country for one year are to cough up N4,000 to be able to access their call-up letters online.

The NYSC has tried rather too unconvincingly to justify this apparent kick in the teeth. According to the organisation, the N4, 000 which intending corps members are asked to pay will reduce the hardship usually experienced by them in getting their call-up letters! Of course, the NYSC is very much aware of the fact that prospective corps members are graduates who went through the biblical hell to graduate from Nigerian citadels of learning.

Ordinarily, government has the responsibility to make the lives of the governed more humane; the NYSC is an agency of the Federal Government saddled with the job of mobilising young graduates to undergo the compulsory one-year national service. Tapping from the responsibility of the state, the NYSC must be seen to be ameliorating the lives of corps members. But in this instance, it is doing the opposite.

Why intending corps members must be made to pay any money to access their call-up letters online beats any imagination. Who is the consultant that runs the online portal for the NYSC? How much does it cost to access something as simple as an email online?

The creepy fact is that government agencies in Nigeria appear to be celebrating a culture of unbridled impunity. Not long ago, the Nigeria Immigration Service arranged a sham in the name of a recruitment and forced job-seekers to pay N1,000 each. The rip-off recruitment was so poorly arranged that about 20 young Nigerian citizens lost their lives tragically.

Nigerians screamed obscenities at the NIS, prying questions were asked, human rights groups rose up in condemnation; at the end of the day, just like every other happening in Nigeria, the government of President Goodluck Jonathan set up a panel of enquiry to look into the tragic episode. The government announced its regrets at the loss of human lives, promised to employ family members of those that died…and we all went to sleep.

Of course, the Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro, retained his post while the families that lost loved ones buried them amid tears. Again, Nigerians went to sleep, and thanked God for little mercies.

Almost a year has passed after the ugly incident, nobody has seen or heard anything about our government keeping its words. True to our tag as the “happiest people on earth”, Nigerians scratched their heads in wonderment, went back to sleep…and of course, thanked God for little mercies. God dey sha, we murmured.

Taking this a step further, the surprising thing is that the Federal Government appears to have gone to sleep on this unfolding penchant for official impunity. Reportedly, Mr. President is striving towards transforming the country for the better and one would expect his handlers to be quick to caution the NYSC for such an inhuman and outrageous adventure. Not, for the Jonathan administration.

What government institutions like the NIS and the NYSC are doing would seem to be rubbishing the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan. What with the untold hardship being heaped on hapless Nigerian youths who voted for President Jonathan. And the 2015 general elections are just by the corner!

The two chambers of the National Assembly have failed Nigerians miserably; uncharitable government policies like the one under review would have attracted the wrath of the overindulged lawmakers if we were fortunate to have a caring and responsive legislature. They are the representatives of the Nigerian people who by virtue of our votes, ought to be fighting for us, the downtrodden masses of this great country.

This is a clarion call for the National Association of Nigerian Students (or whatever is left of the body), to rise up and challenge this wicked policy of the NYSC. This ruthless N4, 000 levy has presented a brilliant window of opportunity for all the human rights groups in the country to stand up for the youths of this nation. The NYSC must be made to rescind this ugly policy for it is evil and extremely unpopular.

There are so many rip-off policies dancing around in Nigeria, there are so many wicked man-made hardships directed by those in positions of authority at the long-suffering people of Nigeria. The level of poverty, want, disease and sadness in Nigeria is spiralling by the day; we don’t need more. My sincere plea to the President of Nigeria is to rise up to the occasion and force the NYSC to beat a retreat from the path of extorting hapless graduates.

The 2015 general elections are just a few months away; the youths of Nigeria are watching with a keen interest. May President Goodluck Jonathan see the wisdom in beaming the gaze of his Transformation Agenda at the NYSC and transform that body for the better. For all anyone cares to know, let us all rise to say No to N,4000 fee for call-up letters!

1 comment:

  1. Another example of "Official Extortion" by Govt Agencies. If this and others are indeed public knowledge, one really wonders how come the President says nothing. Shine your eyes in 2015, Naija.