I cannot begin to recount the numerous tales I heard about the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) before it was finally my turn to serve. All overwhelming if I must say, But before I delve into the crux of this write up, a few “fun facts” about NYSC.
NYSC was established on May 22, 1973 by Nigeria’s former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, after the Nigerian Civil War (July 6 1967- January 15 1970) with the primary aim of integrating and uniting the whole of Nigeria. It comprises of 4 cardinal programmes; 3 weeks Orientation Camp, the Primary Assignment, the Secondary Assignment also known as Community Development Service (CDS) and then Passing Out.
When any Nigerian graduate is through with his/her tertiary education, he/she is expected to serve Nigeria under the auspice of the NYSC. Unfortunately, the purpose for which NYSC was established has been relegated to the background. Blame it on the moral decadence which is rampant among the youth who are the core participants in this programme.
First of all, integration is not achieved in the highest capacity because people “work” their posting to favorable places as against being randomly mobilized to places different from the individual’s state of origin or residence. Take the situation in 2014 Batch C for example – everyone wanted to serve in Lagos and the over population of intending corpers in the state led to a split into two streams; this has never happened before. This indicates there are many lagosians and residents of Lagos State serving in Lagos.
Secondly, based on popular opinion, the best part of NYSC is the Orientation course simply known as “camp”. Camp is supposed to be a time where intending corp members are drilled and lectured on what is expected of them during service year. This in no doubt, takes place in full capacity but the free time given to corpers to interact is where the trouble comes in. Now, there is this mentality where people believe camp is the time to explore all their sexuality; basically, take advantage of “fresh fish” from other institutions they will be meeting for the first time and probably never see again. Once, I wouldn’t succumb to this guy’s whims and he said “why are you behaving like this, is this not camp?” indicating I was supposed to throw caution to the wind and act carelessly. Someone described camp as “3 weeks of gross indiscipline”. That is decadence against unity through service.
I made effort to ask a couple of corp members, both past and present what NYSC experience was like, especially camp; and I got practically the same response – high rate of depravity. There are cases of people engaging in intense make out sessions, performing oral sex, actually having sex, married/engaged ladies taking off their rings and hiding them just to take part in the fun. Once, there was a case of a married woman caught making out with a fellow corper. She was decamped and her husband was the one who came to pick her up. Imagine what would have transpired between them in the car on their way home and what would have become of that marriage all because of NYSC. In one of the camps in 2014, there was a rumor about an orgy involving a married woman. In another, used condoms littered about the parade ground every other morning. Well, if it is any consolation, at least they practiced safe sex.
Haven heard these stories and with everyone saying I’d cave and go with the crowd, I made up my mind to prove them wrong. Not everyone who goes into camp has to mingle and partake in the things that are not pretty. I’m not reprimanding or appraising anyone; I believe everyone has what drives them or keeps them going. But best believe, leaving camp with your dignity intact comes with a really good feeling.
It is also good to know there are upsides to camp. People have met their spouses there and are happily married, people have established and maintained life long friendships with people they met in camp, there is the Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) programme on the platform of NYSC where people have become successful entrepreneurs and employers of labour, to say a few. Different interpretations have been given to the abbreviation NYSC – Now Your Success Comes, Now Your Suffering Continues, National Year for Sex and Cuddling etc. At the end of the day, it is really what works for you, what you want to be remembered for and how you’ll like to feel about yourself after spending 1 calendar year serving your beloved Nigeria.