By Modiu Olaguro
While on a condolence visit to the headquarters of the NYSC in Port Harcourt few days after the war between the ballot and bullet was fought, the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike – who left his home probably in trepidation over his explicit role in fanning the embers of violence that left several dead including a youth corps member – now recognises how well the political class has succeeded in creating and sustaining a youthful population whose body could be made placid; soul, appeased; and spirit, condemned to the doom of restfulness as long as money exchanges hands.
Knowing full well that the corps members might query his involvement in the death of their colleague, all Wike needed to do was to speak the language of naira and that was it! As Malcolm X once said, “you can’t ever reach a man if you don’t speak his language.”
The moment he mooted the reinstatement of the state allowance which had been suspended since 2012, the mood of the corps members changed. Swiftly, they brought out their phones to take shots at his Excellency. My colleagues clapped, grinned, and hailed the man for finding them worthy of a portion of the national cake even as they were well aware of the venom he was reported to have spewed in the buildup to the rerun election wherein he asked INEC officials – which serving corps members are a part of – to “write their will.”
With the increase of the allowance of corps members serving within Port Harcourt from N5,000 to N10,000 and those serving outside the city from N10,000 to N15,000, Wike swung the setting from a condolence visit into a wild party. By the time he left, he had become an instant hero. It was more or less like the homecoming of an illustrious son. They were supposed to grill the governor for turning the state into a theatre of war but the “drive for wealth,” which Robert Heilbroner says “is the most worldly of all man’s activities” was enough to excuse whatever grudge they had with a man whom as the chief security officer, has a mandate to secure their very lives.
As an anonymous writer noted:
“The corps members went wild in jubilation. It was the best news they had heard in months. They had forgotten why the governor visited in the first place. It was heart-wrenching. The youths they say are the leaders of tomorrow. The corps members are potentially on the verge of taking the reins of the country but unfortunately, a mere N5,000 increment decided their fate.
“That they were lined up like sardines with some flaunting their painted lip stick showed little solidarity for their dead comrade. A number of them who were seeing the governor for the first time were eager to bring out their phones and take historic pictures of the governor.
“They were motivated by the promise of money and lost their head in the process. Four days after the death of their dead comrade and they could not show in character their displeasure at the inability of the state to protect them. Anyone of the excited corps members could have been the unfortunate one.”
What is not clear is how NYSC perceives this development which is clearly an affront on the spirit of oneness, brotherhood and solidarity the scheme seeks to foster. The behaviour of the corps members which is nothing short of the second assassination of the late Samuel Okonta deserves condemnation from every soul who desire to live in a Nigeria free from violence and institutionalized cannibalism.
Who is supposed to stand against the life-threatening acts members of the ruling class perpetuate other than youth corps members who to a larger extent would leave NYSC into a life of joblessness and penury? Who is in a better stead to protest against the callous disregard for the value of the Nigerian life other than fellas who went through hell to complete school only to bag a certificate not worthy of a job at Godwin Emefiele’s CBN except they wear the names of Atiku, Daura or Arase?
It should be noted that this degeneracy permeates every strata of the youth demographic across the country. It’s as though the youth are in a race to outshine their adult counterpart in ethical perversion and moral bankruptcy! A couple of weeks ago, February 4 to be precise, some senior secondary school students in the State of Osun stormed the street in a protest march to call the attention of the world to the refusal of their governor, Rauf Aregbesola to pay their WAEC fee. Their anger, triggered by the insistence of Aregbesola to enroll only those who made credit passes in at least four subjects in their mock examinations did not go well with the students.
One was in for a big surprise had one thought that their outing would reflect the theme of Civic Education – a compulsory subject taught in schools aimed among other things, at augmenting the sound morals taught in homes, the decorum which ordinarily is characteristic of a teenager, the fear of reprimand from their parents and guardians, nay, the long arm of the law should their conduct constitute public disturbance.
But the students, some of whom were armed with cutlasses threw stones at passers-by, attacked motorists, then, stormed Orisun FM, the state owned radio station threatening to harm the manager should he not allow them air their frustrations to the public. By the time they left, at least nine vehicles had been vandalized, including one belonging to an official of the Federal Road Safety Corps.
What about the protest by students’ of Queens College, Yaba in solidarity with a staff who was alleged to have sexually assaulted a pupil? It’s an endless list of youthful indiscipline anchored on a lack of morality, shame, and a vivid mimicry of the obscene legacies of the older generation. Why would the QC students’ see such protest as immoral when they see on television, how the senate chamber is put under lock and key each time the amoral senator, Bukola Saraki makes a date with the CCT? Why should they wait for a panel to be constituted before storming the streets when the memories of the intimidating solidarity of lawyers with Rickey Tarfa remain fresh in their memory?
This is why pessimists who keep telling us that the next generation of leaders who would succeed the present ones would exhibit traits in wanton proportions might not be far from correctness. With Wike’s blood money, coupled with the protests at Osun and Lagos states, the fate of Nigeria as defined by her graduates, teenagers’, and female population appears complete.
It’s a morass. I give up.
Modiu Olaguro, a youth corps member writes from Jebba.
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