In Fear of Insurgents

NYSC members in entertainment mood

The batch B of the National Youth Service Corps ended on June 5, without the usually passing out parade because of the state of insecurity across the country

By Vincent Nzemeke  |  Jun. 16, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

IT WAS an abrupt end for thousands of youths engaged in the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, scheme as they rounded off their service year without the usual celebration that accompanies it.

In the face of growing insecurity in some parts of the country, the management of the NYSC opted for a low key passing out ceremony for the Batch B 2013 corps members who passed out on Wednesday June 5, 2014.

About a month before the Wednesday date, the NYSC in line with its usual tradition rolled out a time-table of the passing ceremony for the batch. The time-table showed all the usual activities that would climax with a passing out parade at the permanent camps across the states of the federation.

Some excited corps members had already begun preparations to participate in some of the activities when news filtered in that the management of the NYSC was considering cancelling the passing out activities as a result of insecurity in some parts of the country.

About a week to the D-day, the speculation was confirmed. The NYSC released a statement explaining that the passing out ceremony had been cancelled and corps members nationwide were to pass out without any fanfare.

The notice directed Batch B corps members to proceed to their community development zones across the states on the passing out date for the collection of their discharge certificates. Many of corps members who were eager to participate in the final parade were disappointed by the news.

Corps member at a parade
Corps member at a parade

Some of them in Abuja, Nassarawa, Кaduna and other states where the deadly Boĸo Haram sect had carried out attacks initially thought that the cancellation affected them alone. They were relieved when they saw the notice that the cancellation was a nationwide directive.

“I wanted to participate in the final parade because I didn’t participate during the orientation camp last year. But there is nothing we can do if the management does not want any parade. I appreciate the fact that they are trying to protect us,” Ugo Nwafor, a corps member who served in Abuja, said.

Brenda Oliseh, another corps member from Eĸiti, shared a similar sentiment. She said the even though the management of the NYSC did not say specifically why it took the decision, it was clear that the security situation in the country forced the decision.

“I am indifferent. I wanted to see the parade but I am not disappointed that they called it off.  It would have been bad if at the end of the parade we hear that Boĸo Haram people struck somewhere and corps members who have finished serving their fatherland were affected,” Oliseh said.

An NYSC official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she was not authorised to speak for the management told Realnews that the NYSC decided to make the cancellation a nationwide directive because it would have sent a wrong signal if it was cancelled in just the states where there had been terrorist attacks.

“The first circular listed FCT, Кano, Taraba and some northern states as the only places where the passing out parade were cancelled. But about three days later, they sent another saying it was now a nationwide directive. If they had not done that, those corps members in those states would have felt bad and the management would have sent out a wrong message that we are afraid of Boĸo Haram. But it is better to err on the side of caution so I am in total support of the cancellation,” she said.

On the day of the passing out, many corps members arrived at the zonal offices without much excitement. A few, especially those who were just eager to collect their certificates and leave dressed in muftis instead of the usual NYSC attire.

Despite the low-key celebration, some corps members were still recognised for their outstanding performance during the service year.

In Kogi State, for instance, Sam Udolisah, the state NYSC coordinator, presented six corps members who distinguished themselves in the 2013 Batch B to Governor Idris Wada at the government house for the awards of excellence. Udolisah said the decision to decentralise the celebration and make it low keyed was because of the security challenges facing the country

He commended the governor for supporting the NYSC scheme in the state and described him as a rare lover of the youths. He noted that his exemplary leadership quality had made Kogi to be one of the most peaceful states in the country.

“Those who got the award of excellence, distinguished themselves in providing monumental selfless services to communities in their primary assignment,” the coordinator said.

He, however, called on the governor to assist the scheme build a befitting cosmopolitan corps members’ lodge in Lokoja, capital of Kogi State, to reduce accommodation problems and enhance security of corps members posted to the state.

The corps members who got awards were Jessica Ogochukwu, Agbo Helen, Ezekwu Ojuchukwu,  Meseko Odunayo, and Awokunle  Saheed. They were presented with a plaque from Governor Wada. The governor praised the state coordinator for his hard work and outstanding performance and pledged that the state government would always assist the NYSC scheme in the state.

While urging other corps members to emulate those given the award, he said the philosophy behind the NYSC scheme was aside from unifying various segment of the country, was also meant to prepare the youths for leadership positions in future.

It was not the first time the NYSC would cancel passing out parades but it had never been a nationwide affair. In 2012, Batch ‘B’ corps members posted to Nasarawa State concluded their service year without the usual passing out parade because of the communal unrest in the state at that time.

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