GRACE EDEMA writes about the inability of graduates of the University of Ibadan, and the University of Nigeria Nsukka to register and participate in the ongoing National Youth Service Corps orientation and swearing-in ceremony, which took place on Tuesday
Mrs Bola Oluyimika’s daughter, Ana, who is a graduate of the University of Ibadan left Ojota Park, Lagos State for Kabba in Kogi State on November 2, 2022, to participate in the mandatory one-year National Youth Service Corps.
Unfortunately, as of now, she has not been able to register at the Kogi State Orientation Camp located in Kabba nor could she participate in the swearing-in ceremony which took place on Tuesday.
Investigations revealed that NYSC officials had for some years appealed to the over 300 institutions in Nigeria to ensure the arrangement of their Prospective Corps Members’ data, including date of graduation tallies with the NYSC’s certificate style of date alignment.
For instance, the NYSC wants the date of graduation on a certificate to show day, month and year, but a graduate of UI told our correspondent that the date on their Statement of Results only had month and year of graduation.
However, the University of Ibadan, the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and Benson Idahosa University, were the three institutions whose graduates were not allowed to register at the various NYSC Camps across the country.
In view of this, many of the graduates wished to be addressed by their first names because of the fear of victimisation.
Last week Thursday, Abiodun, another graduand of the University of Ibadan was in high hopes when he left Ogun State to observe the one-year mandatory National Youth Service Corps in Delta State.
He imagined himself in the NYSC kit also called ‘ajuwire’, marching and participating in the paramilitary exercises in his platoon.
Being a sporty young man, Abiodun planned to ensure he was among the corps members who would march at the swearing-in ceremony in Delta State Orientation Camp.
His journey to the Delta State Camp was hitch-free, but his dilemma started immediately he got to the registration unit at the NYSC orientation camp.
At the registration unit, he was told that due to the wrong arrangement of the date of graduation on the University of Ibadan’s certificate, he would not be allowed to participate in the compulsory two-week orientation.
More demoralising was the fact that he could not also participate in the swearing-in of the 2022 Batch C stream I.
He said, ‘‘I was hoping to have the best camp experience. I have heard so much from my predecessors. So far, expectations have been decimated. I can’t even mingle with fellow PCMs (now Corp members) as I want to.
Abiodun said, ‘‘I realised the error in the date when I got to camp. Initially, I thought I was the only one until I met about four other colleagues from UI with the same issue.
‘‘Apparently, students from UNN have the same problem. None of them has been registered till this moment. To be honest, it has not been easy. Some have it worse.
‘‘Others had their swearing-in today, we had to stay away. Some folks feel a bit stigmatised already. The annoying part of this whole issue is that this isn’t the first time it is happening.
‘‘A colleague of mine confirmed that they had a similar issue last year. People left important things in their lives to serve their fatherland, yet we are being deprived of that opportunity.’’
Abiodun also mentioned that some of her colleagues were harassed by the soldiers at the camp.
‘‘I have some colleagues that are been harassed by some soldiers on Sunday night. It has been difficult feeding as well as we don’t have the meal tickets.
We haven’t done any registration till this moment asides from hostel registration.
‘Some PCMs in other states weren’t allowed to stay in their hostels. So, I can say this is the worst situation.
‘‘We were banking on camp food due to limited cash.
As it stands now, I’m ashamed to return to the kitchen to get food. We are so conspicuous because all others are white. We are not.’’
Similarly, another PCM from the University of Nigeria Nsukka, Chioma, who travelled to Kaduna State has been stranded in the camp without being allowed to participate in the activities at the orientation camp.
Also narrating her experience to our correspondent, she said, ‘‘The point is the NYSC official said the date is not correctly printed on our statement of results and they have been warning our school to rectify all data appropriately.
‘‘So that is why they have decided not to register us and they also instructed all state camp coordinators to send all UNN graduates out of camps.
‘‘I felt disappointed because I travelled all the way from Ibadan down here and it took me over 18 hours.
‘‘They registered some people here with the same issue but said they won’t register UI and UNN.
“We don’t deserve it, the problem is that we got no prior notification.’’
On her part, Oluyimika told our correspondent that NYSC was rejecting her daughter’s statement of results due to the wrong date arrangement, saying it did not tally with the NYSC directive.
She added that her daughter had left the camp on Tuesday.
‘‘From what my daughter told me, this is affecting all UI students, as they have not been registered. She went in mufti and has been in mufti till now. She couldn’t do anything at the camp and they were told on Monday afternoon that they have to leave the camp immediately.
‘‘The feelers I got is that NYSC has been warning UI about this issue for the past three years. Previous stream corps members attested to having these same issues but eventually got registered; implying NYSC has been showing compassion. UI on the other hand refused to comply with directives hence the total showdown of today. I think UI is very irresponsible, lacks compassion and is a very rigid institution.
‘‘What nonsense tradition are they keeping to at the detriment of their students? Imagine those children travelling up and down during these trying times and insecurity. I can never recommend the school even for my enemy.’’
In a circular dated November 7, 2022 and signed by the Director (Corps Mobilisation), Isa Walida Siddique, titled, ‘Prospective Corps Members With Incomplete Data For Camp Registration,’ read partly,
‘‘However, it is unfortunate that a few CPIs are yet to comply with the resolution, thereby making the registration of Prospective Corps Members (PCMs) very problematic. It goes without saying that lack of harmonisation of data both on the portal and on hardcopies can alter the mobilisation status of PCMs, hence the zero tolerance of the Management towards the few CPIs that still indulge in it.
‘‘In view of the foregoing, you are kindly requested to advise all PCMs awaiting registration to go back to their institutions to rectify their respective challenges.’’
Meanwhile, Director Press and Public Relations, NYSC, Eddy Megwa, in an interview explained that over the years, NYSC had always enlightened all institutions who presented graduands for NYSC on the processes and modalities required to make their candidates comfortable and able to register without difficulties.
He lamented that UI, UNN, Benson Idahosa University had always defaulted especially as concerns date arrangement on certificates.
Megwa said, ‘‘We have over 300 corps-producing institutions in Nigeria and from time to time, we invite the institutions to educate them on all that they need to do and prepare for their candidates. But some universities will not do the right thing. We always tell them the date arrangement in the certificate must tally with the one we will give them. But UI, UNN, and Benson Idahosa did not comply. We have told the graduates to go back to their schools to correct the error because the dates must tally.”
But the Director of Communications, UI, Mrs Joke Akinpelu, who spoke to our correspondent on phone, said, ‘‘I am not aware of anything of such. I will not make any comment on the phone, if you want any information, come to UI.’’
Likewise, the Head, Communications, the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Okwun Omeaku said, ‘‘Let the graduates bring their matter to the school. Let’s have them contact us. They should make their problems known to the school where they got their call-up letter and not the media. They should bring their case to the school authority, let’s hear them and not talk to the press.’’
A staff at the Public Relations Unit of Benson Idahosa University, Edo State, who does not want his name in print said, ‘‘Our graduates are in the camp right now. It has been resolved immediately after the school was notified.’’