Putting it mildly, the nation was in great turmoil, utter chaos and confusion everywhere. Then the persistent constance of fear that had gripped everyone who called themselves Nigerians! The fear of bomb explosions, the fear of ruthless terror unleashed on our streets, places of worship and to cram it all our once formidable security institutions! Walking on tenterhooks and mistrust had bedeviled our once peaceful coexistence and being on edge was simply the order of the day.
Completing my second degree in the United Kingdom (UK), I was faced with the two options of either sticking around and holding on to jobs, absorbed by the NHS or a more patriotic but bleak choice of coming back to serve my beloved but troubled nation. As always, patriotism won me over and I settled for the latter. There was no place like my nation I comforted myself, and made the brave move of coming back to Nigeria and taking bull by its pointy thorny horn. A choice I have never regretted, it was a calling that yearned to be answered, a craving that had to be satiated; a void that needed filling…..
Of course I was not unmindful of the fact that I had to join the National Youths Service Corps if I were to have any meaningful impact in the Nigerian seemingly deteriorating system. After my application I was deployed to Abuja, and went straight to the orientation camp in Kubwa, the living conditions were not something I am too excited to talk about but there we slugged it out.
This was my first real exposure to the corridors of power, my place of primary assignment turned out to be the Aso Rock Villa…..State House. President Goodluck Ebere Jonathan was the commander in Chief, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
My excitement was simply unquantifiable, I could not contain myself, especially the first few days we had our necessary documentations and got issued our access tags to State House.
The main people that wielded so much influence at the time were mainly the Ijaws….. I can not help but still marvel at their boastfulness, flamboyant, grossly entitled and insanely generous when they felt like it.
Through the little lens of a young lady I have also witnessed the not so flattering aspect of firsthand Raw Power play and manipulations, high-end political intrigues and the wielding of unimaginable influence exclusively accorded to the highest level of national status. However, it is essential to have one’s head firmly placed on their shoulders and always remember that ethical behaviour, transparency, and accountability are crucial in any political system. It is also important to encourage young people to participate in politics and engage in responsible and ethical behaviour to shape a better future for their communities and the nation.
Yes, life is a journey full of ups and downs, and it is important to embrace change and transformation as we grow and evolve. The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) is a great opportunity for personal and professional growth, and can be a valuable experience for anyone looking to broaden their horizons and gain new perspectives. Serving in high places and working alongside talented individuals from diverse backgrounds can be a transformative experience that shapes one’s future career and personal aspirations.
It is NYSC’s 50th anniversary today, not much has changed presently from the time I served, roughly a decade ago. I believe that any policy direction or reform for the programe should focus on improving the experience and benefits for corps members, ensuring their safety and well-being, and enhancing the programme’s effectiveness in promoting unity and national development. Additionally, the incoming government should consider implementing measures to address the challenges faced by corps members during their service year, such as inadequate funding, poor living conditions, and limited access to healthcare.
My name is Maryam Shetti. Honestly, I stand with Nigeria.