Hello World, it’s been quite a while. Well, here’s a new story on a theme we’ve never shied away from covering on this blog. It’s a personal experience of a close friend of ours. It is both enlightening and thought-provoking. Enjoy your read . . .
Gist Editor, Gistoscope
Now I’m scared that my Nigeria . . . Our Nigeria, may never be better.
I had a firsthand experience that has eroded my faith in our government, its policies, and its numerous ‘feedback mechanisms’ to know the people’s plight.
Two weeks ago, I was chosen to represent Zamfara state Corpers in Abuja during the National Corpers Forum aimed at getting feedback from serving Corps members from the 36 states of the federation and the FCT on how the scheme could be improved from the Corps members’ point of view. Four delegates per state were selected and 6 from the FCT. For three days, we sat and pointed out pertinent issues bothering Corpers security, welfare, community development projects improvement and mobilization issues. On each of these topics, we made observations and resolutions which we typed and submitted to be moved on to management for consideration.
From the welfare communiqué group, we told them blatantly that a transport allowance of 1000 Naira and bicycle allowance of 1500 Naira was unrealistic; as times have changed, that sizes of Corps members should be collated before mobilization; so that we could stop the shameful practice of giving people oversize or undersize kits, that either they pay a certain amount as medical allowance monthly or implement a health insurance scheme for Corpers like most schools are doing now; instead of having me pay my medical bills and then start writing to Abuja for a refund which may never come. We even said they should stop using Corps members during elections as cheap labour since it exposes them to risk of loss of life, as, more often than not, violence erupts. We had a long list from the welfare point – from issues of inadequate camp facilities, to lack of accommodation provision by employees. Other groups made their resolutions too.
To my chagrin, however, these people had come up with a resolution they wanted, and threw away all that we said and put in theirs. They even said we advocated for better taekwondo in camp! Whaat???! Next, he was moving a motion to adopt our resolutions as amended!! Right in our faces!!! Some of us cried out immediately. I jumped to my feet and told him with all due respect that this final resolution had been greatly watered down, and that it did not represent what my people had sent me there to say. A couple of people raised their hands and came out to voice their opinions that a lot was missing from this resolution. The Corpers who produced the final document confirmed that a staff of the NYSC was set on them, and he was the one who literally produced the contentious resolution.
Furthermore, and in a bid to mock democracy even more, the chairman said all those with issues about the resolution should come out. He then gave us the mic to each say what we wanted. Then he sat, locked heads with his colleagues and kept gisting away, barely listening to us, till the last of us ‘riffraffs’ made our point, with him taking no notes or cognizance whatsoever. Then again, he moved for the adoption of our resolution as amended.
By this time, the Director-General had come and gone, the press had taken their pictures and video clips and gone and there we sat, helpless. Next on the news. we’ll hear a Corper say a word, then a couple of short videos here and there and they’ll show a Corper moving the motion for adoption and Nigerians will think – their voices have been heard, the international world will say – ‘Wow!, the people really have a say in matters affecting them.’ I smiled to myself and said ‘this is Nigeria and this is why we are where we are today’.
The chairman told us our welfare demands were frivolous . . . as if he could boldly say the bicycle he bought his son cost him 1000 Naira, or that transportation from Lagos to Abuja costs 1500 Naira. He told us it was ‘impossible’ to make uniforms and boots to size. My question is – ‘If I can fill in my date of birth, gender, course of study, LGA etc before mobilization, why can’t I fill in size 45 as shoe size so they can know how many size 45 shoes to send to each state? Why should a graduate be paid 19,800 Naira . . . when he’s an equivalent of a grade 8 level officer in the civil service, buying from the same market, and in a strange land, all in a bid to heed the clarion call?
Now friends, I’m not just angry because our voices were not heard. No, I’m bitter because they knew they would do this. They knew they didn’t want to listen to us ab initio. So, why make us all come down to Abuja for a forum such as this? Why feed us for days, provide ‘conference materials’, sit me down for hours, pay our transport and give us other financial benefits, wasting taxpayers’ money in the process; just to come there, hear us rant and then do nothing about our most pressing needs. Friends, they knew they would not listen to us, they knew they already had their resolution, they knew our opinion did not matter one bit, so why make us come? What if one of us died in transit? Would it be for this? This sham?
This is what we inherited, friends – a nation that pays a lot of money to NOT listen to its people.
So next time you listen to the news, kindly take it with more than a pinch of salt.
By Anyiam ‘Don-Moj’ Nnaemeka . . . A guest writer and a true patriot
He’s on Facebook too, so check him out when you can.