Saturday 19 November 2011

NYSC Chronicles

This is where the graduates in Iseyin Oyo State NYSC camp go when they wish to 'ease themselves.' It is difficult to imagine anyone being at ease in such a place. First class holders, second class uppers, third degree takers, they all come here. Aje botas, aje pakos, aje in between, they all squat here. Toilet is a leveler. The logistics of doing your business here are complicated. Do you take tissue? If so, the whole roll or just what you need? Where do you wash your hands? Hand sanitiser or avoid touching anything until you find soap and water? Toilet is a real leveler.

This is where the graduates sleep. So close together and so cramped so dingy so old. Your neighbour's softest snores will still be audible. From here, the graduates wake up in the early hours of the morning to fetch water from their baths. Water is fetched not received from a bathroom tap. The graduates, engineers, lawyers, political scientists, they hang their clothes inside because they fear that other graduates, engineers, lawyers political scientists will steal their clothes.

It is not all a waste. There is an Igbo in this photo, a Muslim, a Christian, a returnee from England, a graduate from a Nigerian university. Perhaps none would have met if not for Iseyin. Perhaps, even if they had met, they may not have related as equal if not for that toilet that levels all.

The Nigerian Youth Minister, Bolaji Abdullahi, is on twitter. Once a month, he convenes what he describes as a 'town meeting.' People are invited to ask questions about youth issues for an hour and in that time, he will try to answer as many as possible. On Sept 8th I asked, "@BolajiAbdulahi NYSC camps are in a terrible state. Graduates don't have access to toilets in most. Are there plans to rebuild them?" The Minister replied, "@ChibunduOnuzo We are engaging governors in our plans to reform the NYSC and address specific issues including infrastructure, yes."

This got me thinking and a little annoyed. Like unity schools such as Queen's College which educated students from all over Nigeria,The National Youth Service Corps was designed to promote national unity. In conception, it is a nationwide scheme so why should it's execution be passed on to state governments? It is a scheme that has been backed by the current regime despite widespread calls for it to be scrapped after atrocities were committed against corpers during the last elections. Yet it seems this regime is only willing to back the NYSC with words and not with cash. University educated folk are not a priority you see.

If you ever wonder why all the graduates are streaming out of Nigeria, looking for opportunities from an abroad as close as Ghana to the far overseas of America, then scroll up and look at the first picture again.

I will close with this photo. It was sent to me by a friend on her first night in the NYSC Lagos camp. She did not describe what this photo shows. I do not know if some graduates spent their first night outside. All she said to my question, "Did u go to camp,' was:

'Yes oh I'm at camp.
Chibundu it's terrible
As in....... Hot damn! '


  1. my first night in Lagos camp too I slept outside so yeah, this is for real...

  2. Wow. Na wa o. I was hoping that the explanation for this would be something like, we were airing out mattresses.

  3. The original aims aren't of the scheme aren't being met any longer. It should either be restructured or scrapped.

    If possible, it should be made optional and people who've studied things like Law (Law School)and Medicine should be excluded. Young people want to start working and earning money, minimum wage can't satisfy.

    I thought with the loss of loves in the last elections, it would motivate the authorities that something must be done but it seems it has just been swept under the carpet.

    The conditions you portray are quite pitiable.

  4. I don't think they should make it optional. I think it's such a good idea. They should just make it better and perhaps put it on hold until they've improved the conditions. I think doctors and lawyers are the people that should go on youth service the most. Their skills and services are desperately needed especially in rural communities.


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