…. They said it when I was in nursery, repeated it when I was in primary school, chanted it when I was in secondary school and I grew deaf to it by the time I was in uni …… Children are the leaders of tomorrow; its either time ceased to move or the children refused to grow. Either way someone was lying and it definitely wasn’t the person listening.
According to the daily post corp. members who had gone to the Bayelsa state government house to protest the non-payment of their monthly allowance were replied by gun shots fired in the air and tear-gas from security agents attempting to disperse the group. To say that this is unacceptable is to put it mildly.
For my non – Nigerian audience, a Corp. member is usually a young Nigerian observing the statutory one year of service to the nation. The organization managing this scheme is known as the National Youth Service Corps. According to its mission statement “…it is committed to the unity and even development of the Nigeria State. It hopes to be at the forefront of National development efforts … imparting in the youths values of nationalism, patriotism, loyalty and accountable leadership. To develop the mind of the youths through shared experience…..ensuring the Nigerian youth acquires the spirit of self-reliance, a reliable source of economic empowerment and effective participation in nation building,”
Essentially every new graduate of Nigerian descent home or abroad is expected to observe this one-year of service in any of the thirty-six states across the nation. During this period the government both federal and state provide a stipulated allowance each month for each youth. The last time I checked the federal government paid N 19, 750.00 slightly above the national minimal wage whilst each state decides what it can afford to pay each corp. member according to their professional status and role in the state. Both funds, however, are disbursed by the state officials and the amount barely covers the cost of everyday living for the frugal youth. More often than not most state governments fail to pay this amount for months and in a state like Bayelsa where the price of living is twice as high the situation is not pleasant.
In light of the above, it was very unjust, inhumane and disrespectful of the state government to treat the “future leaders” of our Nation demanding their due this way. Especially in a state that pays large sums of money monthly to individuals who supposedly received amnesty from the federal government. Having served in Bayelsa myself I assure you some of the individuals receiving said payment had nothing to do with Niger-Delta militancy or cultism, in actual fact some were not born at the time, but due to dubious management they receive such payments. These factors: high cost of living, fund mismanagement by the government, insecurity and general ill-treatment by the government only serve to rubbish and deride the ultimate purpose of the service year.