The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2023. The program was set up by the Nigerian government during the military regime in 1973, to involve Nigerian graduates in nation-building. The government dreamt of a Nigeria that was united and peaceful.
While it may have been a bright idea in 1973, the security situation in Nigeria these days makes it difficult to defend its relevance. The major problem I have with the scheme is that it forces young people to travel long distances, mostly by road, to states across the country. In a country where kidnappers abound, it’s not a risk most are happy take.
When it was my turn to serve Nigeria in 2019, I knew I had to ensure I was posted to Lagos. Or at worst, somewhere in the southwest region. I couldn’t risk getting posted to any state that involved travelling through the roads that were notorious for kidnappers. I knew there was no way my parents were going to pay a huge ransom for me. I can imagine a kidnapper calling my dad to send 15 million naira if he ever wants to see his son alive again.
I wanted to stay in Lagos and I’d do anything to make that happen. So I had to take matters into my own hands. I asked a few friends if they knew someone who could help “run this thing”. Someone introduced me to a guy named John Bosco*, and I begged this dude to help out.
He gave me an address to meet up with him. It turned out to be a cyber cafe, which I assumed he owned. He seemed like a fairly normal guy in his late 20s who spoke with a slight stutter and wore a gold necklace with a giant cross pendant. He boasted that he’d been helping corpers with NYSC posting and relocation for several years and had never failed, then proceeded to charge me ₦50k for his service. I reluctantly parted with the money and kept my faith in a guy I’d only spoken to once.
When I was eventually posted. I found out it was to Taraba state. Taraba? How? I cast my mind back to how Bosco had promised the posting was foolproof.
I tried to reach out to him to, at least, get a refund. This man had blocked me everywhere. I counted my losses and decided to make the best out of my sorry situation.
After a journey that lasted almost two days, I arrived at the NYSC camp in Jalingo, Taraba’s capital and lined up to start my registration. As I glanced at people’s faces, one stood out. The dude looked familiar. He was tall, dark and John Bosco. The person who was supposed to be my sure plug for a Lagos posting was a corper who’d also been posted to Taraba.
What could I do? The damage was done. What’s the moral of the story? Nigeria is a crazy place.