That night as you zipped the last of your bags, do you remember your mum or dad or a relative singing that same old song they have been singing since you returned from orientation camp?
‘Don’t forget to save o’
Or was it when you got yo the motor park you were told? After the prayers and talks.
‘Remember to save.’
Or you were told when you got to the state your PPA is located?
Either ways. We have all been told to save, it was sung, drummed and cooed into our ears. Save save save!
And you went with save save save ringing at the back of your head in your mother’s voice. You have been told to save and you must because they said so and everybody else did it.
Until reality slaps you rudely in the face and you start thinking of how to survive on 19,800 not to talk of saving. Your PPA doesn’t have an accomodation for corps members and they are awfully sorry they can’t pay you. Nigeria is hard and everybody is managing they tell you. You have no choice than to accept after all you were there to serve and your allawee is there to collect. You managed to fix yourself up in the corpers lodge which is far away from your PPA because you have no choice. You only have to part with 4500 once and a monthly due of 300 naira later. You transport yourself to work everyday, CDS every week, you need to buy airtime to beg your benevolent uncles and aunties for extra money but all they did is beat around the bush before adding in a sotto voice but you are collecting allawee now.
Everybody thinks you are rich and should be responsible for yourself. Everybody reminds you on the need to save. They don’t want to know the rest of your money goes to feeding and you barely have enough to squander if you so wish. So how will you save? Days you go hungry, limiting your ration to 1-0-1 or going to the barest minimum 0-0-1.
We have been made to think 19,800 is enough to solve every problems of a corp member during the service year. They all believe if we do not waste our resources and we live within our means it should be more than enough for us to spend and even save! Maybe the money is enough for saving for some people who are given accomodation by their PPA, who get paid by their PPA and have the stipends coming in from different side hustles that they are involved in. BUT what about the rest? Those who have no accomodation beside their PPA and need to transport themselves from their house to their PPA at exorbitant amount every day? What about those who get taxed every month by CDS, lodge, water and all those petty petty things a corp member must contribute to for the smooth running of his/her affairs and life? What about those who are made to over work at their own detriment, break down in health and only have 19,800 to comfort them for their hardwork? Is NYSC truly meant for us corps members to serve or to slave? I ask because some PPA see corp members as cheap labour, those who are there to work the same way the staff they pay work or even work more than their staff for nothing!
Not everyone is lucky with his or her PPA but at least there should be something substantial one looks forward to for all the weeks of toiling aside from a miserly 19,800!!!
NYSC should be a scheme that builds corp members not one that fails them and make them fall into depression and see a gloomy future ahead of them!