NYSC doing its best within available resources, says spokesperson
Of late, the issue of inability to raise funds for the mobilisation of the next batch of prospective corps members has been gaining ground. But the Director, Media and Publicity of NYSC, Mrs. Bose Aderebigbe, says the issue of paucity of funds does not affect the NYSC only, but a reflection of the difficult times that the country is going through presently.
In an interview with The Guardian, she dismissed the allegation that the wait by tens of thousands of prospective corps members to be mobilized in the next batch, has become a hopeless one.
Aderebigbe insists that the picture painted of the situation, is not a true reflection of the situation, having been done by some people, who have no idea about the workings of the system.She said: “This year for instance, since the Federal Government does not want a situation where youths who are done with tertiary education hang out longer than necessary before having their chance to serve, we were given 260, 000 corps members to mobilise. So far, we are left with about 70, 000. Once the present set leaves in October or thereabouts, this outstanding will be taken care of for the year. This is not a hopeless situation as people are made to believe.
“It should be noted that once the Federal Government gives us the figure to mobilise for a particular year, they back it up with funds to take care of that number. We are in need of a lot of funds to ease our operations, but we will continue to cry to the government until the situation improves.”
On the condition of orientation camps across the country, which most were noted for their unsanitary conditions and absence of potable water, she said that storyline belongs to the past as they have been rehabilitated and made comfortable for the corps members.
“As we speak, all 37 orientation camps have boreholes that take care of their water needs. The battle to make the camps spick and span took a different dimension under the immediate past Director General, Brig General Johnson Olawumi, who went the extra mile to ensure that there were adequate facilities in camps. In those days, when the NYSC visits state governors, we usually went with copies of the laws setting us up. And we always let the governors to know that state governments have a duty to provide facilities at these camps. Of course, in this direction, some state governments performed creditably well.
“When I was a state coordinator, I remember former Governor Alao Akala of Oyo State, providing the NYSC with a giant Mikano generator. Former Governor Martins Elechi, of Ebonyi State, also gave NYSC in the state three Mikano generating sets, and Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State, also gave NYSC in the state a power generating set. Right now, through the instrumentality of the NYSC, and some state governments, all orientation camps in the state have power generating sets to take care of their power needs.”
Aderibigbe said the former helmsman before leaving office, during his visits to orientation camps, normally visited toilet facilities, to ensure that they were in order.
“General Olawunmi would even go straight to see what the toilets look like on visiting an orientation camp. Thereafter, he would move to the kitchen to inspect the conditions, taste the meals, check out the sizes of meats and fishes given to corps members, and ensure that things were generally done the right way. He also ensured that more toilet facilities, including mobile toilets were put in place for the convenience of corps members. The good thing in all of these is that all these steps the incumbent DG, Brig. General Sule Zakari Kazaure, I also taking in a bid to lift the scheme higher.”
In explaining the reason behind the poor quality of kits supplied to some corps members across the country, she regretted that contractors hide under the inadequate monetary provision made for that purpose, for each corps member, to water down the quality.
“The sum of N10, 500 is budgeted by the Federal Government for the complete set of kits for each corps member. This includes a pair of khaki; two white vests; one crested vest; two pairs of shorts; a fez cap; a pair of canvass and a pair of jungle boots. In Nigeria today, we all know that this amount is incapable of purchasing the topmost quality of all of these,” she stated.
She also pointed out that some corps members in their bid to make their kits tighter or body hugging, give them out to inexperienced tailors, who end up making a mess of the kits they were given.
Contrary to the widely held belief that each corps member is entitled to N1, 500 worth of meal daily, Aderebigbe said the amount set aside for each member’s meal is actually N500 daily.
She pointed out that this is clearly not enough, adding that it was the reason some state governor’s subsidise feeding for participants of the scheme.
“Some state governments give something reasonable to subsidise feeding of corps members, while the needy states just do the little they could. That notwithstanding, we always ensure that the meals are nutricious enough for consumption. I camp, I also eat from the same pot with them because as my children, I cannot give them what I cannot consume.”