Just like yesterday, I was called up as a Nigerian youth, “To obey the clarion call; lift my nation high; in the sun or under the rain; with dedication and selflessness; Nigeria is mine, Nigeria I serve.”
Those were the words that filled the mouths of over 2,000 corp members posted to the Federal Capital Territory orientation ground exactly a year ago today. It was the official swearing-in ceremony of the NYSC Batch B 2012 Corp members. A ceremony that could be likened to a grand induction of successful university graduates from different tertiary institutions and diverse backgrounds into the Nigerian state.
I was privileged to be one of the corp members on ground that fateful day, a parade that truly witnessed light showers, yet corp members were compelled to stand attention under the rain; bringing to reality one of the verses of the NYSC anthem.
With such an experience, I knew I was all out for such an eventful year ahead, basically re-echoing into my ears that I am in this for selfless service.
With this mindset, everything I experienced during the 21-day orientation camp was more of fun to me; from the early morning bigle, Man-o-War trainings, ill-prepared meals and so on. The only case of anxiety that erupted was the passing out parade(pop) week from the orientation camp; virtually everyone was so eager to know where they would eventually execute their major task in the entire service year, this is also known as place of primary assignment.
I eventually found myself in Abaji, the least developed area council secretariat in the FCT, though engulfed with some disappointments as at then, but looking back now I could say its the best place to serve my fatherland.
Should I start from the opportunity the land and people of Abaji afforded me to come close to rural life settings since birth? Or could it be the privilege I had, to give some career direction to some young pupils at a federal government college in the area.
Interestingly, one of my most cherished experiences is the successful conduct of the FCT council polls as an INEC ad hoc staff, despite lots of worrisome stories prior to the election. This particular event gave me an insight into why the Northern region is so crucial to the outcome of any general election in Nigeria; as voters trooped in en masse to cast and defend their votes notwithstanding the volatility of the environment.
Till twelve midnight, votes were still being counted and monitored by an handful of party faithfuls, a case we can hardly find in other parts of the country.
In conclusion, my service year has been quite worthwhile and will gladly join the league of Nigerians that supports its continuity. Though, various calls has been made for the scrapping of the scheme, mainly due to the security challenges that has taken over the country, most especially the Northern cities.
Beyond all the pros of this scheme, I still believe much can still be done to further improve on its achieved feats, lest I turned the agency’s unpaid spokesman.
With all these in mind, I use this opportunity to congratulate all outgoing Batch B corp members in the entire nation on their forthcoming Passing Out Parade.
Bolaji Junaid is an outgoing corp member, writes from Abuja