Udofia Joseph: Addressing rape and other sexual offences in Nigeria

Rape is the crime of forcing another person into sexual intercourse. In Nigeria, this includes Statutory rape, which is the act of having sexual intercourse with a minor – anyone under the age of 18. Often times, Nigeria no 1 discussion forum, Nairaland is flooded with news and discussions about cases of rape, usually involving girls far below the age of 18 at the receiving end.

One cannot but ask, why is rape on the rise? How does one justified nairaland.com/2211434/man-32-rape-defiles-10-year-old? How exactly? It is inane to imagine that such animalistic behavior have found domicile in a right-thinking human being. In our society today, men have wives, young male adults have girlfriends and “side chicks” who often rise to the occasion whenever the man calls, and vice versa.

Even, the sex role has even been outsourced to the hundreds of sex workers who line the street, lying in wait for their employers. While prostitution is considered criminal in Nigeria, little is being done to curtail it, seeing the awesome reception it receives from people of all classes and strata. From the shanties in the popular Oju Irin, off Bodija Market, Ibadan, where a round can go for N500 to the GRA streets of Port Harcourt where the rich get their share of the cookie, at mouth-watering prices, clients and employers return home – satisfied.  While I do not support prostitution, the Nigerian society seem to have decriminalized the crime, as it seems to do more good than harm, in providing a solution to the insatiable libido of men. So why do we still have cases of rape?

In society today, rape is far from being frowned at in the society. This is largely so because ladies are generally seen as objects of sex. This is further worsened when a lady pays a visit to a male colleague. More often that not, such visits are interpreted as coital visits. You cannot hang out with a lady without society seeing you two as active sexual partners. Ladies are viewed as investments and men, as great business moguls, expect a high ROI. I remember a friend of mine who was terribly sick after a long day’s work. His female friend came visiting and in that state, he still had carnal knowledge of her. When asked, his reply was simple: “I have spent so much on that girl. I have to get a return on my investment”. In cases like this, among others, if the lady is unwilling to open her legs, rape is the man’s final resort.

Rape could also be homosexual. I know of a young male adult, who was nearly raped by another in 2010 in one of the nation’s citadel of learning. According to him, this happened a little past midnight. He was about to alert the neighbours, when the attempted rapist said “How will U tell people I want to rape you. Do u know how they will look at you”. At that moment, the attempted rapists’ words were indeed words of wisdom. He returned to his bed like nothing happened.  Rape victims usually undergo a bad ordeal. The trauma they pass through, possible panic attacks and stigma from the society. Evidently, the stigma faced by rape victims largely contributed to the victim’s muteness in the face of such barbaric experience.

Are they not friends? Maybe they had consensual sex but something went wrong. People will come up with different excuses in defense of the accused. They even go as far as calling the girl, a gold digger, who was after the man’s wealth. The moment you receive a gift from an average guy, he will come asking for the cookie one day. You either make the cookie available or return the gifts.

You cannot totally blame the man anyway? More ads on our TV screens continue to objectify women as sex products. Take a look at the recent ad by New Age Charger and PowerBanks, imploring us to get our phones charged so as to capture the butts of women. How obtuse!

Popular artistes use erotic scenes and lines in their songs, without which the songs or videos may not gain wide acceptability. As we know, songs are the gateway to the human soul. Songs aptly capture our emotions. We are bombarded daily by sex scenes. Nollywood is also upping the ante, in a bid to catch up with Ghanaian films, which are getting popular among Nigerian youth for the ardor contents. Charles Babbage cannot be righter- Gabbage in, gabbage out.

The big question is: What are we doing to stem the rising case of rape in the society? As the custodian of the society, what is the government doing to stem the rising case of rape in the society?

Parents have a huge role to play in this issue. In many homes, the film ratings are generally not adhered to. I was in a friend’s place watching a movie. His friend’s brother, well below the age of 10, was also around. We had started watching a movie and some ardor scenes came up. Apparently, I told the young boy to excuse himself as the film is above his age grade. My friend replied deviantly: “Leave am joor. Eruku leleyi” loosely transmitted as “Leave him alone. This one is a don”. A don at age ten?

In order to address the issue of rape and sexually-related offences in Nigeria, families need to be more vigilant. A friend narrated his ordeal to me while he was younger. Having lived in a one-room apartment, popularly called “face me, I face you” while growing up, he recalls his neighbor, a young lady, who often came to pick him from home while he was between ages 5 and 8. After spending some time with the lady, the only thing he remembers about their experience is “hair”.  He recalled the lady did many things to him which he didn’t understand at such a tender age. After his first sexual intercourse at age 15, the memories became clear to him. Evidently, the lady always played with his genitals and rub it in her pubic hair. Today, this experience has had a profound effect on his sexual life, and while he is still single, he remains sexually hyperactive, with an insatiable urge to perform sexual activities.

While the twitter community anxiously awaits the outcome of the Sugabelly vs Audu Mustapha rape scandal, it is pertinent as parents to nurture, and listen to our children well. Parents need not be shy in engaging their children in discussions on sex. Sex education is not unholy and should be treated in our churches, mosques and other religious gatherings. The younger generation is getting smarter and the need to be well informed, cannot be over-emphasized. The younger generation should not objectify women as sex objects, but appreciate the rarity of such a gem.

Also, the ladies should not see sex as the means to a fulfilling life. Using sex as a tool to secure juicy offers, money or assets is no different from the prostitutes who line the streets at night. Government should crackdown on clubs and shanties, as prostitution remains illegal in Nigeria. The truth is, people in Government know these places as they patronize them. Let us secure the future of our country, the girl child, and the vulnerable kid on the street.

Let us secure the nation. Say no to rape and let us put an end to this scourge. Remember, the next victim could be your sister, mother, friend or you!


 

Micah Stephen:The Challenges of State Building

These times are indeed perilous. It’s coliseum all over again. The battle of “those ones” against “these ones”. We are on the brink of a major historical landslide, no seer could have foreseen. As nationals go against their nation, with no respect for any filial consideration or connection; as elite division and disorientation are shaping up in their ethnic, cultural and regional particularities; as the questions we refused to answer at the laying of the first block of post-colonial Nigeria continues to haunt us; with the edifice established by the inconsiderate political elites caving in; we are urgently to contend with an emerging reality. Of fathers fighting sons, of cousins tearing the tendons of one another, roiling in this apocalyptic slugfest, it’s a clash of all alters, things are already apart – the falcon has grown deaf to the falconer. However, there is hardly anything new about it. The possibilities of the current realities had been made crystal clear when the outstandingly brainy Awolowo described Nigeria as a mere geographical expression. To the thoughtful, that was not a mere rhetoric, it spoke of things – A bunch of things to come.

As a famous columnist once put it with caustic relish, “no matter the prefix to delimit its historical actuality, it is obvious that there is not much difference between colonialism in Nigeria and what has come after it. In reality, “post” is often a marker of barely disguised continuity rather than sharply delineated discontinuity. As an English wit quipped, “there is no point in settling the order of precedence between a flea and a louse. They are both bloodsucking vermin”.

After the departure of the British imperialists, 50 years on, there is arguably nothing we have to show for the independence. However, there is hardly anything divinely preordained about this misadventure. The fact is Nation building (or rather, state building) had never been a tea party for a task. It is not a job for the fainthearted. The challenges are meant to be enormous. You must paddle your own canoe; you must answer to your father’s name. Look at the efforts made at building the United States, the odyssey of wars – both physical and philosophical, culminating to self-identity. Until the debris of misconception of self is cleared, every effort made is going to be for everybody but you.

Post-colonial habitats are especially more bogged at the abyss of confusion to clear a lot of debris of identity crisis after freedom. There is nothing more challenging. For a multi-ethnic entrapment like ours, Independence could be murder in the cathedral, if care is not taken. In order to cure this identity crisis, emerging nations at various times have got to rely on a person or group of persons to lead them out of this psychosocial maelstrom. Every Israel must have a Moses and an Aaron to lead her to the Promised Land. There were the Thomas Jeffersons and George Washingtons for the U.S, Lee Kuan Yew was on hand for Singapore. Even Charles de Gaulle, in the fifth republic France did a yeoman’s job in deconstructing the edifice of identity crisis of the French. These they did by formulating powerful, enduring philosophies, which still stand at the basis of their values and mores.

Knowing that the danger of clustering people of dissimilar cultures and worldview together without a binding philosophy will be nothing but writing a love letter to anomie; the founding fathers of U.S.A had to draw up the Articles of confederation 1777, to complement documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of 1776. They meant business. The nation must first understand herself, before other things. The tragedy that has befallen Nigeria or to a larger extent, Africa was that there were no people as those to lead them to their El Dorado. There is nothing more tragic than when all you have to reel out as leaders are Samuel Doe, Idi Amin, Joseph Kabilla and the likes. In the particular case of Nigeria, instead of sitting down to create a binding philosophy to build on, the founding fathers fanned the embers of political cum ethnic tyranny. We have not recovered since then. After all, Nigeria was not conceived as a nation but as a colonial plantation for the expropriation of indigenous natural resources. It is easy for a colonial plantation to become a banana republic.

Infrastructure must however precede superstructure. You cannot have Nigeria without Nigerians. This was Awo’s concern. The current siege of ethnic chauvinistic hubbubs has added to the many tales to tell since our independence. It is not going to stop anytime soon. The power of disunity cannot be beaten into place by a cudgel of force. National question will always come back to ask you about her. Consensus must be reached. It is the first question to answer. Ethnic consciousness must give way to National spirit, but only when nationals are ready to give nationhood a chance. How this will happen after the event of 1914 – A marriage of inconvenience, someone christened it, is what we do not know. The misfortune more so, is that we are trying to build a nation, hundred years after she was fastened together, and fifty five years after she gained her freedom . We are indeed setting forth at dawn. However, it does not mean that National questions are answered in their finality, it will continue to be asked but it cannot be avoided. If there is any migraine to be had, it is the fact that we are yet to emerge with a generation that will drive us towards state building. We are all being genuine sons of our fathers; holding the toga of ethnicity with unflinching tenacity. Nobody wants to be a bastard.

America is not the one we see, it is the one that led to the one we see. “We the people of the United States of America” is not a mere aphorism, it is a result of a genuine and sober reflection over a philosophy, out of which came a flurry of objectives, a decision to formulate policies, not an unnecessary mouthing of mere soulless words. “A nation without philosophers is without tools to assess its original ideas and institutions. Thus, they are forced to choose between these two options; (a) be a copycat, take policies from abroad or (b) be a guinea pig and apply unassessed or poorly assessed policies”, a certain Imre Chan once quipped.

A nation must necessarily pass through a moment of catharsis, of collective and consensual introspection, of the analysis of their reality, a search for answers to their fundamental national questions. You cannot run away from these. You cannot chase away your shadows, No dibia will conjure terrestrial wonders for such sake. Though the question will always be “where are these architects”? We are so deepened in ethno-religious squalor that we cannot understand anything else. So we look elsewhere for succour. Nothing can be heart-renting than seeing Nigeria warm up to her hitherto imperialists and western nations for solution upon meeting with a problem. They brought us together after all. They must laugh at us. They really have us at the jugular. Interestingly, A nation cannot afford not to dominate her space, nothing to the contrary could be more suicidal, a gory self-immolation. The domination must be in all cadres; intellectually, philosophically, ideologically, idealistically, in fact, spiritually. She must build an agenda of goal setting, myth setting, in order to forge her realities. It is a herculean task, not in any way meant for Hercules but for mere mortals. It is after the building of philosophy that knowledge arises. Knowledge does not need to conform with western ideas or ideals, Lee Kuan Yew made this inescapably clear. It is about how you solve your problems, balancing all competing needs in your society. Knowledge matters and human capital is the driving force behind all societal advances.

First things must always come first. As simply illogical as it always is, we have a penchant for putting the cart before the horse. It is a strange culture of ours to continue to dig our grave. We do not stop, we only dig deeper.

There cannot be an attempt at nation building, without building the “national spirit”. Freidrich Von Savigny called it; Not just constitution. Constitutions will never build a nation. Without a philosophy preceding the making of a constitution, all words therein are almost soulless, just playthings for lawyers and political analysts to juggle around with. Philosophies of a nation must be reflected in a constitution. Constitution will not constitute a nation, a nation constitutes constitution. Before this will ever happen, the nation must heal, the nation must agree. Simply put, the state of the Union depends on the union of the State…


 

Joseph Udofia: My NYSC Experience (Part 2)

THE MISGUIDED OPINION ABOUT THE OGONI PEOPLE

[Part 1 is available here]

The euphoria that heralded the final day of camp melted when I picked my posting letter – I had been posted to Gokana LGA; one of the local government area that houses the Ogoni people. Just two days earlier, a friend who was currently serving there prayed, that I should not be posted there. Apparently, the heavens heard the exact opposite.

A Local Government-sponsored bus was sent to convey new Corps members from the NYSC Camp to their Place of Assignment, and my friend came with the bus. We had a brief chat where she advised me to go home and ruminate over it, before accepting the offer. I mulled over this for three weeks and settled to remain in my LGA – a decision that ensure that my integrity remained intact.

As I prepared to resume in Gokana, my father’s friend, who accommodated me for those three weeks gave me his words “You know I worked with Shell for 30 years. I visited Bodo, Mogho and a couple of other places in Ogoni. The Ogoni people are wicked – very wicked set of people. Be careful and stay away from their girls. May God see you through”

I arrived at Mogho, Gokana on Dec 13. After the necessary documentation at the Community Secondary School, Mogho, I returned home to resume after the Christmas and New Year celebrations. The Ogoni people are a highly marginalized and impoverished breed. Many of the children who walk around the streets in oversized T-shirt remind me of pictures from war-torn Sierra Leone as captured by the lens of the international media. Children, between the ages of 5-8, playing football stark naked under the rain was not an unusual sight. In Mogho, Bomu and a couple of other communities, the Corpers’ lodges were the major source of pipe-borne water for those communities. Just a handful others had boreholes in their houses.

It is palpable to imagine that an oil-rich community which should be in the class of Aberdeen could be mistaken for war-torn Sierra Leone. Despite the fact that substantial production of oil and gas has been halted for over a decade, by the recalcitrant Ogoni people who ordered Shell out of their lands due to the oil spillage and environmental degradation with little compensation, the people still suffer the damaging impact. I made a trip to some of their rivers and you would see oil floating on their river – the same one where they harvest fishes from. However, Shell alone cannot be blamed, as pipeline vandalisation further exacerbates the problem.

At night, the villagers usually locally refine crude oil, emitting thick black smoke into the atmosphere. Once, this was done in the afternoon, and even the sun couldn’t penetrate the thick smoke.

While interacting with members of the communities, I learnt that Shell crude oil pipelines still run through the communities, hence Shell is still responsible to the community as part of her Corporate Social Responsibility. The oil giant is responsible for the WAEC fees of hundreds of students in the schools. Shell also doles out huge sums of money to the Chiefs for development of the communities.

Many claim, more often than not, that this money is shared by the elites and never used for its purpose.

During my visit, I witnessed Communal unrest in Kpor and Bodo communities. In Kpor, the youths alleged that Shell has disbursed a huge sum of money to the community Chief for development. They opined that, knowing how selfish their Chief is, and rather than have him embezzle the money; the money should be shared equally among all families in the community. However, the Chief publicly denied that the disbursement of the money as alleged by the youths.

Amid protests to demand for recognition and compensation for the pollution of their environment, they have been painted as barbaric – this is far from the truth.

I taught Mathematics to the SS2 Class of 2014/15 Session, with arms A and B. The student population is at 150, though you hardly see 70 students in school, except during the 3rd term promotional examination – One in which everyone gets promoted to the next class regardless of their performance. In no time, I built a good relationship with the students. Seeing the poor quality of education they received in previous classes, I offered free evening classes on Mondays and Wednesdays to fast-track the learning process, focusing on what their teachers failed to teach in previous classes – to lay a good foundation, without which my efforts during the usual classes will result in futility. It was unfortunate that many of them knew zilch in Mathematics. I remember when I taught one group Pythagoras Theorem under five minutes and almost the whole class unanimously said “Is that all? That simple?”

Computer classes followed on Friday, as I introduced them to the Computer (Laptop) and the basic Microsoft packages. An average of thirty people turned up daily for the tutorial classes throughout the holiday period. A colleague and I, also renovated a block of classrooms and with funds from our donors, set up a Reference library as they had none.

Invites to lunch with their families, gifts – coconuts, yams and fruits, started pouring in. Spending time with them during holiday, I got a peek into their lives. They took me on fishing trips and excursions round their community and adjoining ones. They told me tales of their past, the oppression from the community chiefs amongst others. They even told me how they would send me my share of their N600,000 – a compensation Shell had just paid every indigene of another community, Bodo, for environmental degradation, when theirs arrived.

The icing on the cake came a night to my departure. The new yams had just been harvested. Seven of them, all boys, came around for the usual chit-chat. Next thing they said “Sir, let us prepare you our local soup”. After over two hours of work, “kpon sa-ep”, a local soup made from water leaves and garnished with fish and oysters was ready; pepper soup was simmering in another pot, and two very large bowls of pounded yam was ready for consumption. I invited other Corps members, a little over 12 turned up and we consumed the first round to our fill. The chefs and I went for the second round and washed it down with a bottle of wine. It was the happiest mood I had seen them in – in like forever.

While the Ogoni people could be volatile towards themselves, as witnessed during the elections and other mild cult clashes, they are very accommodating towards strangers. Strangers can defy their traditions, and go scot-free. It is said that strangers bring good tidings; hence, they hold their strangers in high esteem.

Parting with my students was amidst tears. A day after I bid the community farewell, a woman who benefitted from my free tutorial brought me tubers of yam that she just harvested – The new Corpers made merry of them. A student who learnt I was still in Port Harcourt brought me tubers of yam, all the way from the village. He bought me a T-shirt too – I was stunned beyond words. Did I mention I got a set of glass wares too?

Since I left their community till today, a day hardly passes without a call or chat from the lovely Ogoni people. Discard the misguided opinion about the Ogoni people, they are a cheerful and warm people. They have been, are, and will continually have a place in my heart.

Oluwatosin Fatoyinbo: Non-Academic Tips for Nigerian Law School Students

You must have been hearing the stories from your first day in the University of how terrible and hectic the Nigerian Law School can be. You would have heard stories of woes and poor results, of people having to resit the exams over and over again but its reality, you are now a student of NLS and you are wondering how to survive. First, you need to relax. NLS is not as bad as you have heard. This piece is intended to help you understand how to go about your non-academic life at NLS and other miscellaneous things.

A few clarifications: I don’t claim to know anything and I didn’t graduate with a first class. I wasn’t exactly the very serious ‘bookie’ kind of person but I made it out of law school and my experience may help you. In life, we learn from the experiences of others but one will have to create their experience and learn from it, so you will need to understand your uniqueness and carve out your experience at NLS. These are not academic tips though I will say a few things about the courses.

Let’s take the issues in numbered paragraphs:

  1. Understand your campus

There are six campuses of the NLS; Abuja, Kano, Yola, Lagos, Enugu and Bayelsa. I was posted to Bayelsa and what an experience it was. Apart from the Lagos campus, most of the other campuses are not in the center of town, they are majorly in small villages or outskirts of the city. Bayelsa for instance is on the outskirt of Yenagoa, though not too far from town. Yola campus shares boundaries with American University of Nigeria, Enugu campus is at Agbani, Kano at Bagauda while Abuja is in Bwari, a long distance from the Abuja city center.

Basically, you need to understand what is available on your campus and what you need to source from outside campus. If you are in Kano, please ensure that you buy winter cloths because the cold may deceive you to think that you are in Europe. If you are in Bayelsa for instance, prepare your umbrella and rain suits because it rains without warning and when it’s hot, it’s very hot. As an aside, Enugu has the Adam and Eve Hostel. What in goodness is that? Garden of Eden? Lol.

Generally, you don’t have to worry about power supply, NLS ensures that you have light till 12 midnight at the least and the generator comes on again at 6 or 7am depending on your campus. With regards to food, as you may well be aware, you cannot cook on campus so prepare adequate food provisions as alternative to eating out. Again, depending on your campus and the size of your belly, an average meal goes for N250 per plate. Do your budget and schedule your “food money”. If you don’t trust your ability to keep your food allowance without blowing it, you can buy food ticket for the entire month such that you go to your preferred restaurant and have your meals without having to think about daily payment. I adopted that system with Iya Oyo in Bayelsa campus and it helped. The disadvantage of this will be that you may get bored of eating from the same restaurant every day but it saves the danger of blowing your food allowance and getting stranded. I can assure you don’t want to be hungry at NLS.

Another thing to consider is water and laundry. Again, depending on your campus, you may need to buy water every day. Some campuses don’t have water issues but some do. Your white shirts are very important, it’s essential that you keep them truly white, which is why they must be washed with clean water. In Bayelsa, we sometimes had yellow and ‘óyel’ laced water so that you couldn’t always wash your white shirts with the water. Dry cleaning is not too expensive depending on your economic capabilities but if you cannot afford it, get your clean water and do it yourself.

 

2.  Making friends

Forget all the stories you have heard, make attempts at forging new friendships. Attract to yourself guys who love you for you, and are better than you. Certain friendships from the law school will last throughout your lifetime and some are lifetime partners.

3. Falling in Love, Sex and weeding

Okay, you are an adult; you can choose to fall in love in Law school. If you truly fall in love with someone worth your love, and there is response from the other party, by all means go ahead and give the relationship a chance. I know you came to campus to pass the bar, but life doesn’t go on hold simply because you are in law school. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you go out of your way to seek for love but if love finds you, off course by all means…

On the other hand, you can also choose to have indiscriminate sex. It’s a choice but I would advise you not to do that – just my opinion. Some guys were expelled for having sex on Abuja campus so if you must have sex, make sure you get out of campus. Don’t do it within the four walls of the campus. Also, during my time at NLS Bayelsa, some guys were suspended because they were caught weeding on campus so watch it.

4. Piety and Religion

Regardless of what you believe in, you will definitely need God in NLS. So make it a habit to enjoy church services and jumat prayers as the case may be. I was active in Bayelsa as an executive member in CLASFON and Chapel. Those were great times of genuine service to God and it didn’t in anyway affect my academic purpose and pursuit.

5. Attendance and Law School Dinners

You should know by now that attendance at classes is very compulsory. If you don’t make 75% attendance mark, you won’t be allowed to sit for the bar finals. This is not a joke o; you have to take this seriously, make sure you sign in, in the morning and sign out after class. Please don’t skip classes unnecessarily except it’s totally inevitable. On Dinner, please do your best not to miss the dinners and dress in accordance with NLS requirements to avoid being asked to return to the hostel to change.

6. Academics

I really don’t think I am the best person to advise you in this regards. Anyway, there are five courses in the law school; civil litigation, criminal litigation, property law, Corporate law and Law in Practice (formerly called Ethics).Usually, two lecturers teach each course. Classes resume at 9am and closes at 2pm at the earliest with 30 minutes break, depending on your campus. Classes in Lagos and Bayelsa often don’t end till 4pm, sometimes even stretching till 5pm.

Be careful of the materials you use as some of them are greatly misleading. If you are not sure of the right position of the law, discuss with your friends and if still unsure, ask your lecturers. Most of them are easily approachable. Understand what works for you; don’t just simply run to the library to pass off as a serious student unless this system works for you.

Please note that Law in Practice looks simple but many have fallen by its sword so take it seriously. Corporate law is a continuation of your company law so it may be a little abstract and sometimes the lecturers may confuse you. Just ensure that you distill the conflicting information properly so you know what is right. Civil Litigation is bulky so you need to pay close attention to it; else you will find yourself lagging behind and having so much ground to cover.

In all, Law school is a mini NYSC before NYSC; you will meet people from all over Nigeria. Make maximum use of it. Have fun, rest well, eat well and read. Please read. I wish you God’s best.

 

Tosin is an Associate at Banwo & Ighodalo, one of Nigeria’s foremost law firms.

Joseph Udofia: My NYSC Experience (Part 1)

THE DIGNITY OF THE SCHEME

The stamping of footsteps during parades, the early morning drills, the regimented schedules among others, were the hallmark of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Camp. The training, administered by highly disciplined soldiers strives at instilling a high level of discipline into members of the NYSC. One can only expect that Corps Members discharge their 11- month long duties with the highest level of discipline and dignity.

However, a few months after discharge from the 3-week long Camp, this dignity is called into question.

Corps Members, often called “Corpers”, seen as a Paramilitary organisation should command a lot of respect – The type bestowed upon soldiers. In some cases, this is true. In my Place of Primary Assignment (PPA) for example, the Uniform means you get to ride on motorcycles across military check Point while others get to push their motorcycles across the check point. The uniform invites salutes from members of the Community, amidst chants of “Corper, Corper” from all angles. The uniform means your employer can trust you to deliver when called upon to do so. The uniform means you are a government property and if anyone dares lift a finger against a you, a battalion of soldiers will be at your doorstep in seconds – well that is the general saying. In some other communities, the uniform is nothing more than a covering.

In some communities, corps members are seen as government property in a different light, like many government controlled schemes – abandoned and neglected. This translates to reduced fares, lifts and some free gifts which are not necessarily dignifying. Corps members go as far as standing on highways, putting themselves in harm’s way in search of lifts from strangers, to their destination. Worse still, Corpers turn themselves to bootlickers, paying unsolicited courtesy calls to important dignitaries in the community, in a bid to eat the crumbs from their table.

I partook in the electioneering process that brought in the present administration. While the process was adjudged free and fair, it could have been fairer. In the build up to the elections, several political parties held meeting with Corps members, who were to be Presiding Officers for the elections, doling out tens of thousands of naira, to swing results in their favour. As the adage goes, he who pays the piper dictates the tune.

The dignity of the scheme is also called into question due to the ridiculously low stipends paid as monthly allowances to corps members. N19,800 an amount, considered too low to sustain Corpers for a month, forces members to engage in illegal activities just to make ends meet. While I took on teaching jobs to increase the size of my pocket, it wasn’t unusual to see Adejobi Adeola, switch names to Barinedum Koate in order to be enlisted to partake of the N600,000 given out by Shell Nigeria to every indigene of the Bodo and B/Dere Communities of Ogoniland, as compensation for oil spillage.

The NYSC Officials are not left out. In my PPA for instance, the Local Government Inspector often handpicked females to be the Corper Liason Officer (CLO). The reason was not far-fetched. The Local Government Officials and powerful members of the community usually need a little booty-shaking to stir them to support the Corpers financially. While every corps member reported to the Local Government Council on NYSC uniforms, our beautiful CLOs appeared in erogenous garments. Well who knows, maybe they are not erogenous, just maybe I need to keep up with the latest fashion trends.

While some others have defied this terrible trend and truly upheld the dignity of the scheme, a lot need to be done to preserve the scheme from being brought to disrepute. My senior colleague at my PPA painted the school in 2013, a colleague and I set up a Reference Library, a junior colleague plans to donate computers to the school among others. People in other places are making positive contributions in other to preserve the motto of the scheme – Service and Humility.

The dignity of the scheme is under threat and a lot needs to be done to address these issues before it is too late. A stitch in time they say, saves nine.