Well, this post is inspired by the many difficulties I have faced trying to “serve” my country. Just five months in o, with seven to go. God help me.
It definitely has not been easy, and on many occasions I have had reason to believe that Nigeria has and is short-changing me. Friday was the last straw for me, seemingly. The mattresses in our accommodation were borrowed, and without much worry, they were taken from us.
I was extremely livid. That was when I started writing this post. Believe me, it was going in a terrible direction.
I couldn’t wrap my head round the fact that I had given up my comfort to serve my country, and I literally had to pay my way through the service year as well. I paid to be deployed. I paid to have my documents put together. I paid to get my deployment status. I paid to get from one end of Nigeria to another end, to report for camp. I had to pay for my food in camp, because camp officials were stealing food items and the corps members were feeding on rubbish, literally. I had to pay to adjust my uniform, and I had to do trades to get fitting shoes. This was after filling a crazy form online supplying all that information. I had to pay boys to fix me a bunk to sleep on in camp. My mattress was as thin as a slice of bread.
When I was thrown out of camp after three weeks, I had to struggle for accommodation. I ended up paying for three nights in a hotel, while trying to go through a documentation process that entailed me giving back to the NYSC the same information they had created for me. And after that, I had to find money to travel home for the holidays, and then before I could even say “Asgard”, I had to be back again. Documentation. Again.
The official residence provided for us was supposed to house all 23 corps members posted to the Katsina State Ministry of Justice. To do that, we would have to sleep at least four in a room, and four in the living room, on our luggage (to save space). Thankfully, many just had to look for better accommodation, at their own expense. Great expense, beyond the paltry sum the Federal Government deems fit to give.
Our accommodation is bare, except for the distressed mattresses borrowed for us. The expectation is that we have to get our mattresses.
I was close to tears for my country, and how standards just crashed through the floor. A gentleman saw UC and I once, negotiating with an okada rider to take us to court, suit and all. He literally screamed us into his car, wondering why we were not in a staff bus. He was appalled to hear of our living conditions as corps members, and told us how wonderful it used to be. It was only personal effects they had to pay for then.
Not now. And I was sad. I am sad.
I wonder why the standards have changed. Now corps members are not serving their country. They are practically slaves. There is no floor on the barest minimum for their comfort and livelihood. There is no one who can look out for the welfare of corps members and insist on them being treated with dignity. It’s a free-fall, and you should be grateful you are not in a position worse that you are. You should endure it. You should stop complaining. Bla bla bla…
The way this encourages corruption is despicable. Parents are forced to seek redeployment for their children. Security and minimal comfort cannot be guaranteed. And there is no reason genuine enough for you to seek redeployment. Just pay. No one is interested if your mother will die if you are not close by. You can get relocated if you lie that you are really sick though, or you pay a huge amount of money.
To be cleared at the beginning of the month is another story. ZIs and LGIs are practically corrupt to the teeth, and they keep being very creative in finding new ways to milk corps members. You cannot report them, else you risk incurring their wrath. And that scares many people.
I’m sorry to say, but the NYSC is a real hell-hole of a system right now. It is expensive, corrupt, and a total waste of resources. Whatever the rationale was for its creation, it is practically baseless now. The disadvantages far outweigh whatever benefit is left of it.
When I point these things out, some think it’s because I’m somewhat privileged and I cannot cope with hardship. Some think I’m entitled. Some think I should be grateful I’m in a better position than others. Others think I’m British!
I don’t get them.
I’m not someone who has never faced hardship before. I’m facing a lot as a person. But because I can cope with hardship is not enough reason for it to be piled on me. I am not entitled either. I’m a Nigerian, and the reason why we will keep being mediocre is because no one is out there demanding the minimum. There should be a point where we should say it’s enough, and demand certain things from the government. A floor should exist where beneath that can be considerd unsavoury and unacceptable. Service is not forced labour. It is service, not Columbus’ America for the African Slave.
And God forbid it that my standard for thanking Him is the misfortune of another. What rubbish. I don’t relate with God that way, and that certainly insults those in those unfortunate positions. No one would have to suffer in the name of NYSC if we actually demand that certain things should just never ever happen to corps members.
I was in the middle of a rant, and I just could not go on with it. But I’m calm now.
I feel really persecuted by my country. I see the news, and all those people carting money away, and there are so many things wrong with the country. No one is interested in doing at least one thing well, in integrity. Systems are failing and our politicians are only concerned about trading blames. Our standards are out the window. So painful.
It all really just pushed me to the brink, wanting to let it all go. I felt it just wasn’t worth it to be Nigerian.
But not anymore. I’m Christian. I’ll let Nigeria do this to me. Let me be hard done by. It is not every day I get an opportunity to be cheated out of my rights. It is not every day I have the opportunity to feel really really deprived. It is not every day I will get the opportunity to be cheated.
So, I will use this as a springboard, and a learning place. Let me learn forbearance, and forgiveness. Let me grow my character as a Christian. Let me grow in virtue.
I will keep serving. I will sleep on the floor if I have to. I will walk when I need to, and work where there is no incentive. I will do whatever necessary.
But, know it that this is not me giving up standards. This is not me agreeing to lay low and just smile and wave in the face of the collapse of every thing Nigerian. No. I will stand upright for justice and fairness, and what is right. However, I am taking the absence of all that is ideal as an opportunity to grow my Christian virtues, because that has eternal value. It’s the most important.