Monday, 14 May 2012

Nigeria: Just Pay NYSC Allowances on-time


The corps
The weekend had me a bit incensed when an apparent injustice borne of rank incompetence appeared to be addressed with platitudes, excuses, inaction and sophistry bordering on indifference.
The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) established in 1973 was a way to promote integration in Nigeria just soon after the civil war where graduates of tertiary institutions are called to serve the country for the period of a year.
Recently, there have been discussions about the relevance of the NYSC and rightly so for reasons of the adequate provision of protection and security of deployed people usually known are corpers as quite a few have lost their lives to mobs and rioters especially after the elections of 2011.
Other issues have questioned whether it does promote integration, whether it prepares the youth for the job market and with all the reforms and restructuring whether it is anymore fit for purpose – these are pertinent questions that need asking and should fare in intelligent debate about what it means to be called to serve Nigeria at the height of your potential.
The NYSC is managed by the Ministry of Youth Development and it commands probably the highest percentage of expenditure of the ministry such that one would expect that due attention is given to its effective management and priority is given to matters that pertain to the corpers.
The situation started off on Twitter as news filtered through that allowances for April had not yet been paid and this was as at the 12th of May 2012. The allowances are just at subsistence level and there is very little reason why the system should break at the point where it is most critical to the affected.
God rest you hungry people
The current SA (Advocacy) to the Minister of Youth Development who goes by the Twitter handle @MrFixNigeria started off with the following two tweets.
#DearNigerianYouthCorper I have brought the issue of your unpaid April 2012 allowance to the attention of the Honorable Minister. 11:45 AM - 12 May 12 via Twitter for BlackBerry® [Detail]
#DearNigerianYouthCorper Please be rest assured to get some positive feedback soon. Watch this space. And God be with you all. 11:46 AM - 12 May 12 via Twitter for BlackBerry® [Detail]
If the matter were not so serious this statement demanded that the person be laughed to scorn, but it was too important to let go just like that.
Unhelpful words
These are the series of tweets I posted in response.
I like the "God be with you." prayer given by @MrFixNigeria for corpers but really, what they want is a system that just works.
Yes, we need God but human-beings are sometimes in the way of letting God do something because they are not doing their jobs.
It is not enough succour to pat the hungry on the head saying God be with you, feed them, clothe them, shelter them - That's God with them.
@MrFixNigeria The positive feedback they want is the allowances paid pronto not some new assurances and much talk.
I cannot understand how people in charge of the NYSC scheme cannot see that it is unconscionable that allowances haven't yet been paid.
Meanwhile, @MrFixNigeria launched into a series of patronising and unrelated tweets that did nothing to help the situation distracting us from the issue with examples of other countries running a youth service scheme whilst the elephant in the room was the apparent obliviousness of himself to the plight of the corpers until that time and the possibility that the minister in charge had only just been made aware of rank incompetence under his watch.
It gets more annoying
And so I added the following viewpoints.
@MrFixNigeria The reasons why the relevance of the NYSC crops up are obvious to you and I sort those issues out and no debate.
@MrFixNigeria The non-payment of allowances on time is NOT a challenge, it's rank incompetence celebrated from Minister downwards.
@MrFixNigeria The NYSC scheme is the most visible aspect of your ministry because it deals with core youth potential of Nigeria.
@MrFixNigeria That the management of allowances has descended in something approaching a farce is atrocious in the extreme.
@MrFixNigeria And for all the countries that have youth service schemes, after 40 years of ours, it should be exemplary not incompetent.
@MrFixNigeria Please, I think the NYSC people have been patronised enough, all these your tweets are adding insult to injury.
This @MrFixNigeria should work on fixing things, the tweets I am reading are like sophistry of the most hated apparatchik. Not Good!
@ikeamadi I'm really politely telling him to "Shut Up" and only return when he has useful news for the NYSC guys. @MrFixNigeria
The duty of care
The government owes people called into its service a duty of responsibility to ensure they are paid on time and treated with dignity.
The tweets have in and of themselves made the case I am trying to make, which is it is sad to see such a situation develop that the youth in government find themselves unable to be properly representative of their peers but get caught up on patronising talk that is just entirely unhelpful.
Other responses attracted well-deserved opprobrium and whilst I am not keen on the abuse of people on twitter, it so happens that excoriation in the Nigeria is mostly delivered through insults - @MrFixNigeria was in fix, tampering with what he could not fix and pretending to be in the centre of fixing what the ministry he works for should never have allowed to break in the first place.
Nothing can piss you off more than to have vacuous official-speak thrown at your dire circumstances. It is not too much to ask that allowances be paid on time.

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