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By George Daniya

Fully dressed in National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) attire, it was hard to tell if Alh (Dr.) Abubakar Sani Bello was a serving governor or a youth corps member. Ditto for Alh. Mamman Musa Bosso, the Commissioner for Youths Empowerment and Sports Development in Niger State: they both looked like duplicate copies of the young graduates they were about to commission into the compulsory one year national youths service programme. Well, the governor was done with that part of youths development programme many years ago when he graduated from the University of Maiduguri, popularly called UNIMAID. The same for the state Commissioner of Youths Empowerment: a graduate of Federal University of Technology Minna, who was there to give the governor a helping hand. The governor, expertly inspected the quarter guard and the parade mounted by the newest corps members in town in his honour, the exercise reminiscent of his days at the Nigeria Military School, Zaria, where he was at one time a student. The occasion was a ‘batch B stream-two orientation course’ closing ceremony: Governor Bello’s appearance in Paiko, some 24 kilometres from Minna, where the NYSC Permanent Orientation Camp is located, caught the admiration of many corps members.

At Paiko, Governor Bello told employers of labour in the state not to reject corps members sent to them, even though he acknowledged the economic difficulties many were passing through.’Otondos,’ as corps members are jokingly called, are always happy to hear of a concern expressed for welfare, and they did not miss the opportunity to clap resoundingly when the governor told the commissioner of youths and the secretary to the state government (SSG) to ensure that the welfare package of the over 2,500 corps members, that just concluded the orientation exercise, was not compromised. The corps members craned their ears to hear more; in fact, I saw in their habits that they had forgotten about the scorching sun, which had been made a little light by the harmattan that just resurfaced, to pay keener attention to the governor. Unfortunately, the governor did not disclose the size of their allowance, and I hope they were not disappointed, after his speech.

So true is the NYSC anthem:

Youths obey the clarion call

Let us lift our nation high

Under the sun or in the rain

With dedication and selflessness

Nigeria is ours,

Nigeria we serve.

Well, the governor might have provided a soft landing to the new otondos in town. My prayer is that organizations, both public and private, would comply with his directives and absorb these young graduates, some of whom have just been in this part of the country for the first time in their life. The governor enjoined them to remain patriotic and join hands with the state government in improving the standard of living of the people, in their places of primary assignment. Governor Bello told the corps members that the state needed them so much; as such, he said, they should avoid unnecessary travels, which sometimes led to unpleasant events, such as accidents, which could have been avoided in the first place.

The new NYSC Coordinator in the state, Mrs. Theresa Ibukun Arokoyo, hinted that 80 per cent of the corps members would be posted to rural areas. Well, if you are a corps member posted to a school as primary assignment, you don’t need to panic, if you don’t have teaching skills. Should the schools hid to Mrs Arokoyo’s advice by organizing induction courses to these corps members, it would go a long way to help them acquire basic teaching skills and enjoy their service year as teachers.

The coordinator expressed her joy at the concerted efforts by the governor towards the completion of the permanent orientation camp at Paiko.