Holidaying President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed delight at how the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) is fulfilling its purpose of fostering national unity since its creation in 1973. But the average corps member continues to detest his serving conditions.
Speaking to newsmen in his country home Friday in Daura, Katsina State, after the Eid-el-Kabir prayers, Buhari said: “I am always pleased to see corps members in Daura and other parts of the country.”
He said NYSC postings allowed corpers to learn more about other cultures and that the scheme continues to integrate the country, noting that the diversity of cultures remained Nigeria’s greatest strength.
What we think hardly matters to the president is that the scheme is very badly run. Corps members are exposed to terrible living conditions especially during in orientation camps. They are supplied ill-fitting khakis and parade gears – usually of very poor quality – in camp. In some states, classrooms are hurriedly turned into dormitories in NYSC camps.
Perhaps more irritating for many corpers is the huge profiteering that rages in all NYSC camp mammy-markets, and the disdain several male and female soldiers show the corps members under their watch.
The President said the large number of corps members in Daura, mostly from the Southern part of the country, was an indication that the dream of a unified Nigeria remained a reality. He recalled his days as an army officer working in various parts of the country. He said that serving in the South, particularly Lagos and Ibadan enriched his knowledge of other cultures.
President Buhari would do well to back his love for the NYSC scheme by ridding it of corruption and favouritism in the posting of some corps members, and the military tyrants parading as camp commandants.