In 1973, when they came up with the idea of forcing young graduates to join the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme, they said the aim was to unify the country that was so much divided in culture, language and religion.
Initially, we objected to the scheme, which we considered as an unnecessary drawback, but later we agreed to make the sacrifice, if that would make Nigeria great.
As a result, they forced us to go to places we had never been before, and asked us to live among the people, to learn to speak their languages and their ways of life, to eat their food, and to marry their children, if possible.
Many of us were deployed to teach in schools, others, to work in government offices, and in some private establishments. At the end of every month, they will give us peanut as allowance, and tell us to accept it in good faith since we are doing service to the fatherland.
Now, they are no longer satisfied with our role as unifier, but say that we have been placed on the national reserve list, and therefore, are going to carry guns and go to war, to fight Boko Haram, AK-47 wielding Fulani herdsmen, bandits, unknown gunmen, kidnappers, and so many other bad people that have been causing our security forces sleepless nights.
According to Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Brig. Gen Shuaibu Ibrahim, “corps members are part of the national defence policy of Nigeria and they can be mobilised for war, if need be”.
The Director General in a television programme stated that “Corps members are on reserve. They are part of the national defence policy of this country. So, where there is serious war, our corps members are educated, they are knowledgeable and they can be trained.
“You see the drill and so on. You can imagine within the short three weeks in the orientation camps, the corps members are moulded. They are like soldiers. You see female corps members blowing the army horn, playing with the military band.
“So, if not for the knowledge, where are you going to mobilise such young Nigerians to train them quickly to put in their best for the country? So, corps members are on reserve. They are also part of the national defence policy.”
No, Mr. NYSC Director General. We are not going to carry guns to fight any war. Did we ever tell you that we are interested in carrying guns? Otherwise, we would have for long registered for it. We are not ready to flight any war.
Unless you want to sentence us to mass suicide, how much of military tactics did we learn in the three weeks we were in NYSC orientation camp that gave you the impression that we can effectively challenge the hard fighting Boko Haram and the Islamic State of West Africa insurgents, or the murderous AK-47 wielding Fulani herdsmen, or the invisible unknown gunmen, and the bandits, that are currently peppering our soldiers?
But if you insist that unless we are drafted to the battle field to fight, you will not issue us with NYSC discharge certificate, we will tell you to hold your certificate. After all, what are those you already issued with the certificates doing with them? Nothing. No jobs.
Presently, the NYSC discharge certificates are as useless as the university degree certificates, both of which have been gathering dusts inside our boxes since nobody is making use of them.