Almost every Nigerian who has passed through the mandatory one year National Youth Service scheme would have experiences of extortion from NYSC staff in one way or the other. From the point where you have to submit documents to influence your posting (for married women and nursing mothers), to the orientation camp, the registration period, redeployment processes, the service year and the passing out period, most youth corps members have unwillingly had to part with their money to ensure they complete their service year.
If I begin to share all my experiences of extortion from NYSC staff, it would be an uncomfortably long read.
But the most annoying one that I experienced was at my Community Development Service (CDS) group in Lagos state. Every month, we donate a compulsory N200 which we were told by the NYSC staff at our local government, was meant for our final project. I was in the Environmental CDS Group, so ordinarily, we thought our final project would be an Environmental project and we had already started making our plans on what we wanted to do with the money (something to help promote cleanliness within our local government). However, we were shocked when some weeks to the end of the service year, our CDS officers at the local government told us what they wanted us to purchase with the money. They asked us to buy plastic chairs, a table and a water dispenser for their use in the office! Other CDS groups were given similar demands. Some were asked to make notice boards around the local government and others were asked to donate funds to renovate their toilets.
It was totally annoying to say the least.
What is the cause of my ranting you might ask? Today, I read a Punch report which noted that the Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps, Brig.Gen. Nnamdi Okore-Affia yesterday reaffirmed my position that some of the inspectors of the scheme extort money from corps members.
The NYSC chief who was represented at an event by the Director, Corps Welfare and Inspection, Mr. Emmanuel Obi, also said many of the inspectors had performed poorly.
He told some NYSC inspectors at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Inspectors Development Programme organised for inspectors in the South at the NYSC Permanent Orientation Camp, Ogun State, that it was regrettable the attitude of many of them left so much to be desired.
“Reports from the recent nationwide inspection and corps members’ forum indicated that some of you engage in acts capable of bringing the scheme into disrepute.
“Unwholesome practices such as delegating your responsibilities to corps members, non-residence in the communities where your workplaces are located, thereby leading to irregular attendance and poor supervision of corps members not only detract from the noble objectives of the scheme but negatively affect her corporate image,” he was quoted as saying.
When most public servants are confronted with accusations of corruption from the citizens, the response is mostly denial. So it makes me somewhat glad that the NYSC leadership actually admits that there is a problem of extortion among its staff. I only hope that this admittance would lead to finding solutions to the embarrassing problem.
Have you passed through the NYSC service year. Did you have any experiences of extortion from NYSC staff during your service year?
Please share with us.