Beyond Khaki: How Young Corps Members Brought Smiles to the Faces of Abandoned Nigerian Communities
If residents of Ajipowo, Oyebode, Orisaye and Olugere in Oda community, Ondo state; Kpong community in Rivers state and Ayegbami community in Kwara state had been told that their utmost help will come at the hands of Corper Osaretin Michael, Bilqees Lawal and Obinna Gabriel respectively, they'd have mocked the bearer of such a message - but that's the reality.
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The aforementioned communities had something disheartening in common - their lack of basic amenities like water and road.
And despite having democratically elected representatives, their situations remain unchanged until the aforementioned kindhearted corps members were posted to these communities.
In a matter of months, they spearheaded campaigns, appeals and movements that saw residents in abandoned communities they were posted to smile again.
Before highlighting their good deeds, it is noteworthy to give kudos to the masterminds of NYSC creations without which those abandoned communities will keep wallowing in their pains and sufferings.
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NYSC and what it represents in Nigeria
The need to foster common ties and promote national unity and cohesion among Nigerian youths gave rise to the creation of NYSC.
According to its official website, NYSC was established on May 22, 1973, by decree No. 24 which states that it was birthed, "with a view to the proper encouragement and development of common ties among the youths of Nigeria and the promotion of national unity."
The scheme was founded by the Yakubu Gowon administration after the civil war and involves the posting of Corps members to states other than their regions.
It is open to graduates below the age of 30.
21-year-old Osaretin Michael was posted to an underprivileged community in Ondo state for his NYSC and was burdened particularly with their problem of lack of access to clean water.
The young man told Legit.ng that the villages of Ajipowo, Oyebode, Orisaye and Olugere villages in Oda community consume muddy water that is hazardous to their health.
"Apart from the muddy pool, their closest source of clean water is a place called Cocoa Board which is 5 kilometres away from the villages and attracts a fee of N500 per trip and those who can’t afford the fee will have no other choice than to drink the muddy water which has brought diseases like malaria, typhoid fever, amongst others,'' a concerned Michael said.
Michael already had it figured out ( his plan was to give a borehole to two villages) but needed the financial muscle to actualize it and immediately set to work with aggressive social media campaigns and appeals.
6 months after, it became a reality. Michael took to LinkedIn to showcase the new boreholes.
It took a young corps member identified as Obinna Gabriel to get a representative of the community of Ayegbami in Kwara state to include their dilapidated road in his constituency budget for 2021.
Obinna got to the community and was overwhelmed with a passion to effect change after learning that Ayegbami's dilapidated road had been responsible for the death of people as well as hampered on businesses.
Obinna said he launched an aggressive campaign that touched media houses and organizations as he drew their attention to the plight of the people.
And 10 months later, the community had a 'brand new road' which he showed off on social media platform Twitter.
For the people of Kpong in Rivers state, their saviour was 20-year-old Bilqeees Lawal.
The young lady arrived at the community for her NYSC and noted that the only source of water for the over 5, 000 residents was a contaminated river.
She also utilized social media in sourcing for funds as well as other avenues but it wasn't without difficulties. Difficulties that at some points put doubts in the mind of the young lady on the possibility of seeing it (the project) through.
"I doubted the success of the project before I commenced and during the fundraising campaign. "The question everyone asked me was how do you want to raise over a million naira?”
"And honestly, I never had the right response,''she told Legit.ng.
"It seemed impossible but I wanted to try anyways. Fortunately, I have the right people in my circle that encouraged me and provided me with all the psychological support for the project. I cried severally because fundraising is not an easy task."
The first-class graduate's determination paid off as she would go on to construct and commission the project to the excitement of the residents.
No doubt, the selfless deeds of these corps members make a strong case in support of the argument that the compulsory one-year national service shouldn't be scrapped in the future.