With Joke Adeniyi-Jackson
Some months ago I wrote a piece in this column with the title: “Yikpata NYSC camp: Urgent need for upgrade,” it reads: “First impression lasts longer, goes a popular aproism. I have come to realise that the common saying is a truism in the sense of it, going by my experience years back. As it strongly believed that our first impressions are generated by our experiences and environment. I could recall vividly my first visit to Bauchi State on the behest of service to my fatherland through the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in the year 2000. My first place of contact in the north eastern state, was the NYSC orientation camp in Wailo, Ganjuwa Local Government Area.
My camping experience I recall with nostalgia because we (corps members) were provided with a conducive environment, which made our stay memorable. My impression of the state was formed right there at the camp. Though, we didn’t have best camping environment, but the infrastructural setting was suitable for its purpose. It is for this reason that one finds it appalling that youths from different parts of the country who converge on the Yikpata NYSC orientation camp in Edu Local Government Area of the state see the existing facilities as nothing to write home about. Year in year out corps members posted to the state go away with sordid memories of their camping experience at Yikpata consequent upon the deplorable state of infrastructure therein. I remember paying visits to the camp a couple of times on official duty and disheartened by the discrepit state of the facility-dilapidated buildings, obsolete facilities, poor electricity supply, no perimeter fence, poor road and inadequate beds.Coupled with this is the inadequate supply of water. Little wonder a former Director General of NYSC, Olawunmi Johnson threatened to shut down the camp. The camp has mostly been in the news for wrong reasons. The current NYSC boss, Brig- Gen. Zari Kazaure also decried the sub standard facilities, which according to him impacted negatively on camp activities. Again, the orientation camp attracted attention, albeit negative, recently with the death of of 2018 Batch ‘A’ female corps member, Amadi Eva Ichechukwu.
Amadi, a graduate of Oil & Gas, University of Port-Harcourt, reportedly suffered a bone fraction during the morning drill on April 23, after which she was rushed to the camp clinic. It was alleged that the female corps member died due to lack of adequate medical facility at the camp.
However, since it is believed that one never gets a second chance to make a first impression, it is incumbent on the state government to make the camp site conducive for corps members during the orientation exercise in order to give these youths good memories of the state of harmony, right from the camp. It is high time the state government supported the scheme with his noble ideas. The present administration of Governor Abdulfattah Ahmed should not be seen as abdicating its statutory responsibilities by ensuring that facilities in the camp are of good standard.
The state government should address infrastructural deficit at the NYSC orientation site. As enshrined in the constitution. It is not the sole responsibility of the Federal Government, but also that of the state governments and other critical stakeholders. Nevertheless, one must applaud the state government for taking a step in mitigating the challenges faced by corps members during the orientation exercise, by providing beds and chairs. Also commendable is the promise by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki to assist in the upgrading of the Yikpata orientation camp. Saraki, while being conducted round the camp, harped on the need to upgrade facilities within the camp to make it comfortable for the corps members. To buttress this fact he said: “This is not meant to be a place of endurance, it is meant to be a place that you would have a memorable time of being here.
“So, it is our responsibility to make it conducive and comfortable. It is not the intention that you must be in a place that is not good enough for your accommodation”.
The Senate President who was at the camp to commiserate with the corps members over the demise of their colleague also promised to influence payment of their monthly stipend. “The NYSC is a noble scheme that should be sustained through government support, given its laudable objectives. From the provision of decent orientation camps and ensuring safety of corps members when and where the need arises,” he added.
I have decided to recall this write up to give a preface and background to a recent development; effort towards revamping the orientation camp.
It is therefore cheering that true to his words, the Senate President has donated a whooping N5.7m for renovation of facilities at the orientation camp
In fulfilment of his pledge, the Senate President on Tuesday, through the Director General of ABS constituency office, Ilorin, Alh Musa Abdullahi presented a cheque of the sum to the state coordinator of NYSC, Mrs Toshin Ikupolati.
The money, as said, is meant for the renovation of four male and female hostels, renovation of clinic and supply of drugs at the NYSC camp. Saraki has again shown his benevolence side. He is no doubt a quintessence of humanity, the kind that propels passionate support for other beings. By the selfless effort Saraki has captured the essence of truth and display of sincerity and candor.
This support will go a long way to impact the lives of the new ‘Ajuwayas’ (a slang for serving corps members) in the state. The gesture will undoubtedly enrich the NYSC experience by the corpers. It will, however, come as a surprise if the opposition starts to read political meanings to this. It will do a whole lot of good if all politicians irrespective of political leanings contribute in their little ways to make life and living better for others. It is believed that a fulfilling and meaningful life is created through service to others.
However, it is hope that the state NYSC under the leadership of Ikupolati will make judicious use of the money and to specification, as pledged.