Thursday, 26 July 2012

A GLIMPSE OF NIGERIA’S COMPULSORY SERVICE YEAR PEN-WISE: THOUGHTS ON JOSHUA AGBO’S BEYOND THE DARK CLOUD


The story of the Nigerian compulsory one-year graduate service is one that means different things to different people. The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) – the name of the service body – brings memories to everyone who has undergone the service. Now, I wouldn’t bore you with the long history of its formation but let us just say that it was created by the General Yakubu Gowon administration as a way of rebuilding the nation by sending tertiary institute graduates (under thirty years old) to different parts of the nation to practice their studied course. Now, these graduates are first posted to states where they undergo some military and civil orientation in an ‘Orientation Camp’ for two to three weeks. At this time you would find lots of people from different ethnic backgrounds mixing together, many for the first time. In those few weeks, a lot happens – friendships are made, love groomed ... The air there is like only what you would see on some of these survival shows like Big Brother, Survivor and the like. That time like the whole time in service varies for different people. The experience is different from camp to camp where some people enjoy themselves greatly while for others it turns out the opposite. So, to say, it is the fun time of camp for most people and the most horrible for others – depending on the way the camp officials (made up of civilian NYSC staff and military personnel) make it.