NYSC directorate finally shifts ground and agrees to redeploy corps members earlier posted to volatile states following a resolution by the House of Representatives in support of public outcry from parents and affected corps members
Finally, the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, has redeployed prospective corps members previously posted to troubled states in the North. They have yielded to pressure from prospective corps members and Nigerians in general who opposed the posting of corps members to states prone to severe security threats. After much debate and insistence by the NYSC that prospective corps members posted to volatile states in the North must report at their various orientation camps before seeking redeployment, NYSC soft-pedalled and decided to heed public call for redeployment of corps members from the directorate headquarters in Abuja rather than from their orientation camps. In a press release signed by Nnamdi Okore-Affia, director-general, DG, NYSC, and made available to journalists on Wednesday, July 4, the operators changed the orientation camps in Borno and Yobe states and directed those deployed to other risk-prone states in the region to report at the directorate headquarters for redeployment. Going by the release, prospective corps members posted to Yobe would now hold their orientation at the Nasarawa State Permanent Orientation Camp at Keffi, Keffi Local Government area. In the same vein, corps members deployed to Borno State would have their orientation at the Benue State NYSC Permanent Orientation Camp at Wanume, Tarka LG. The DG in the release also directed all those deployed to Bauchi, Gombe, Plateau, Kano and Kaduna states who have collected their call-up letters, but are yet to report in camp, to proceed to the NYSC Directorate Headquarters, Abuja, for redeployment. Obviously, this is a relief to corps members seeking redeployment.
Though the NYSC directorate has changed its mind on deployment of corps members, the battle that led to such a victory did not come easy. After it was discovered that the directorate posted thousands of corps members to volatile states in the Northern, there was a public outcry from Nigerians, especially corps members and their parents, who pleaded with the directorate to review the posting to save the lives of their wards. But despite the plea, the NYSC seemed bent on having its way. In fact, as at last Tuesday, Abosede Aderibigbe, NYSC director of public relations, complicated the matter. She hinted that corps members could not be redeployed on security grounds, as the NYSC only carries out reposting on two grounds: marriage and health. She however added that “those who have genuine reasons to seek for relocation out of their states of posting should register first in their states of deployment and then submit application there for consideration.” The statement came on the heel of a peaceful protest organised by some graduates posted to Kano, Bauchi, Kaduna, Yobe, Borno and Gombe states, who stormed the NYSC headquarters to register their complaints.
The directive, no doubt, generated angry reactions from Nigerians and put prospective corps members in a dilemma as to whether or not to answer the national call. Apart from the affected prospective corps members, parents and other Nigerians had also expressed displeasure at such a directive, which displayed so much insensitivity. While some decided to reject the posting, others were determined to go. For instance, James Ihemelam, a graduate from Imo State University, who has anxiously waited for the national service, resolved to defer his service when he received his call-up letter and discovered that he was posted to Bauchi, one of the states in the North-east zone which has been under the firm grip of the dreaded Boko Haram terrorist group for over two years. Bernard Igwe, a graduate of mass communication from Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Anambra State, who was posted to Plateau State, simply told the magazine that he was not going. “My life is important to me. I will apply for redeployment but if I am denied, I will lose one year and do the service next year.” According to him, “The worst that will happen is for me not to have an NYSC certificate.” He added that the NYSC certificate will not guarantee him employment and that curiously many graduates without the certificate are doing well without it.
Apart from corps members, other Nigerians reacted angrily to the directive. Joke Oladosu, a civil servant and mother of three, said directing corps members to report at orientation camps located within the axis where Boko Haram is very active is suicidal and condemnable. “What makes them think that those camps are safe for corps members to stay for one month? They are turning the laudable scheme into a suicide mission,” she explained. Similarly, Emmanuel Ogbonna, a trader whose son, Ikechukwu, was deployed to Gombe State, was categorical that his son would not go to Gombe for service. “I have just two children and Ikechukwu is my first child. I am not ready to sacrifice him on the altar of national service. It is either they get him redeployed while he is here in Lagos or we defer his service till next year,” the concerned father affirmed.
Expectedly, the deployment of corps members to violent states in the North also attracted the attention of Nigerian lawmakers who lent their voice in criticising the move. In Lagos State, for instance, legislators also added their voice, calling on the NYSC to stop deploying corps members to risk-prone areas. Receiving youth corps members from the Lagos State University who stormed the state assembly at Alausa, Ikeja, to protest their postings last Tuesday, Wahab Alawiye-King, chairman, Committee on Education, Science and Technology, maintained that the House had passed a resolution to the DG of the NYSC, urging him not to post students from Lagos State to unsafe northern states where security of lives and property could not be guaranteed.
But despite all such pleas, the NYSC refused to shift ground. However, when members of the House of Representatives joined the call on the NYSC to review the posting, the directorate made a U-turn. In a motion moved by Peter Edeh, All Nigeria People’s Party, ANPP, Ebonyi State, and adopted by members, the House called on the NYSC to desist from posting corps members to the troubled states. Edeh, who noted that the recent postings to some northern states had caused national uproar and concern for the affected graduates and parents, stressed the responsibility the Constitution placed on government to secure the life of citizens. A day later, the directorate decided to make amendment on the review.
Given what happened last year after the presidential elections, when over 15 corps members whose services were engaged by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, lost their lives in the post-election violence that engulfed the northern region, such sentiments exhibited by Nigerians are understandable. With the new directive that affected corps members should proceed to Abuja for redeployment, John Ike, who was posted to Yobe, said: “I feel relieved. By God’s grace, I will be redeployed to a southern state. Now I have no fear and I’m glad to serve my fatherland.”
Additional report by ANAYOCHUKWU AGBO.