By Anthony Kolawole
I haven’t written in a while for personal reasons. But I came out of my self-imposed sabbatical after reading a piece titled “In the Valley of a Hounding Death: Corps Members and The Alluvion of Mishaps” and written by Ogungbile Emmanuel Oludotun.
In the piece, I was confronted with the effort of a young man trying to tell a story on a subject he was not conversant with. Though he wrote with so much passion and contradictions, I understood because he was ignorant of some of the factors surrounding the cause of the road accident, which he quoted in the analysis of his piece.
After writing such a piece, there was no way the writer would not lose appetite, according to him. There was also no way the writer would not experience “vibrations, thumps and other sounds in his brain cells because the issues are beyond his paygrade and for jumping into a hasty conclusion on the NYSC as a scheme.
The plot was clear, but the delivery was defective. Having ranted about how lives were lost in service to the country, he went further to state that the “NYSC is not a bad scheme, it is one of the most potentially oriented schemes that can grow unity and growth in Nigeria.”
Now my question is, if you knew this much about the strategic importance of the NYSC in the socio-economic development of Nigeria, why rant about how undergoing the mandatory national youth service have resulted in the loss of lives and, therefore, it should be scrapped.
I would also commend the writer for this attempt, but with a piece of strong advice for up-and-coming writers like him. The number one rule is to research extensively on a subject before putting pen to paper. The number two rule is to make a point with facts and not conjectures to mislead the unsuspecting general public members.
The piece attempted to touch on the unfortunate mishap that claimed the lives of some corp members on their way for orientation, but the point where he lost it was when he assumed the right to pass judgement on the NYSC as a scheme and going back to bring up issues in times where some corp members lost their lives under various circumstances.
That was a low, in my opinion, because he attempted to paint the NYSC as a deliberately structured scheme to cause death to corp members. I wish to help him out to reduce his nightmares.
He said, “I was really angry that night, so there I was in the middle of the night burning with an intense, deep-seated anger, asking myself the questions of why the life of such promising young individuals would would waste like that in the name of serving one’s father’s land.”
The above paragraph implies that the NYSC as the scheme deliberately caused the accident that claimed the lives of the corp members. He didn’t bother to inquire about the conditions when the corp members travelled and the vehicle’s roadworthiness. He also failed to consider that anyone could be involved in an accident- wealthy, poor, students, workers, corp members and the likes.
He went further in his rant to say, “I was angry that it’s not the first time this kind of tragic incidence will happen to corp members, be it abduction from the men of the underworld, road accident on the deplorable Nigerian roads and a lot of avoidable mishaps caused by this scheme.”
This, in my opinion, is uncharitable. It could be a function of two things; one could be mischief, and the other could be ignorance. But I chose to go with both because no right-thinking individual would assume that the NYSC would deliberately cause a road mishap or put corp members in harm’s way.
At this point, I would not go further into his writing which has all indicators of a diatribe against the NYSC. I know the writer is a young chap. However, it is inexcusable that such a young man would dissipate so much energy in running down a scheme he excitedly participated in at some point in his life. Maybe in return for a plate of porridge.
It either he is not aware, or he chooses to ignore the innovations in the scheme with regards to the various security measures in place for corp members in their different places of primary assignment and the continuous enlightenment and appeal to corp members by the NYSC authorities not to engage in acts that would bring harm their way, such as travelling without clearance /at ungodly hours, engaging in political activities, etc.
I think that the writer ought to have channelled his misplaced anger to advising prospective corp members on some of the things they should avoid making their service year pleasant, drawing from his personal experience. And not castigate the scheme mischievously.
I expect to read from him on how the NYSC has contributed to Nigeria’s socio-economic development. I wish to read from him on how the NYSC has been exposing youths to different cultures, thereby fostering national unity and many more.
I also expect to read from him on the NYSC Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development programme designed to equip corp members with skills that will make them employable and fit to employ others.
I also expect to read from him on the Graduate Entrepreneurship Fund meant for youths undergoing the mandatory one-year national service programme to become employers of labour, rather than job seekers, by providing funds to startup new businesses and expand existing ones. This is just some advice for the young man to be circumspect in his public outings.