By Pelumi Olajengbesi Esq.
Nigeria has suffered a battered perception as a country that ignores and relegates her heroes.
At different levels some people no longer find it honorable and worthy to serve their country. Tales of retired and or serving country men and women who sustain life threatening bodily damage in the course of service yet neglected or forgotten are countless. Gladly, the story is now different with the National Youth Service Corps scheme changing the narratives.
I felt so proud as a Nigerian recently when the NYSC and the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria honored corps members who sustained disabling injuries in their service to the nation in the face of the entire world under the Hope Alive Initiative policy of the NYSC.
As a keen follower of the scheme’s activities, I was in the know when the Hope Alive Initiative was conceived early 2015 under the former Director General of the NYSC, Major General Johnson Olawumi. The then DG, had expressed dissatisfaction with the level of welfare and intervention of government to give succcor to corps members who sustained life-threatening injuries and permanent disability in the course of their service to the country.
He then came up with the Hope Alive Initiative as a policy which government must undertake every year wherein the President will honor affected corps members in partnership with the private sector. The Initiative gives recognition to a habitually ignored class of persons in our national life who are handicapped by their disabilities in employment opportunities and thus set for a life of penury and misery without intervention. I recall that the launching of the Initiative in March 2015 attracted massive sponsorship from the public and private sector as well as notable individuals through provision of palliatives in terms of job opportunities and cash-gifts to this class of corpers so as to give them a chance at a purposeful life after service.
It is indeed a commendable feat that this initiative has continued beyond Major General Olawumi as the now out-going Director General of the Scheme, Major General Kazaure demonstrated patriotism by promoting and sustaining the initiative. It is no secret that occasional concerns emerge in public service given the usual style of our political class to neglect good policies because they don’t emanate from them. However, the men in khaki have demonstrated patriotism in this regards.
This for me underscores two things: the importance of always leaving behind a legacy that speaks potently of one’s capacity for leadership and the gains of sustaining good policies by successive public officers.
A perennial curse that attends most public policies that are people oriented is that it suffers neglect or grows obsolete. The lack of dynamism in certain government MDA ‘s, ministries, parastatals or agencies is a crippling factor in national growth. It is thus highly recommendable of the NYSC to have stayed the course of adjusting to unfolding dynamism while staying true to its core objective to integrate the diverse ethnic groups that make up the nation through a clarion call to service.
The adaptability of the Scheme is traceable to the leadership it has been blessed with overtime, each of whom can be argued to have improved on and innovated the Scheme to best inculcate the right values system, cater to individuality in the scheme while assuring each participants of their importance to the nation.
It would be arduous to fully describe and identify each of these innovations yet this in particular stands out as a beacon of hope to the people and a succor to a special class of corpers incapacitated during their service to the nation. The beneficiaries of this initiative and many Nigerians would certainly be grateful to Major General Olawumi for initiating such a policy and Major General Kazaure for vigorously pursuing a sound policy sustainability direction.
One must appreciate the private sector for keying into and supporting the Hope Alive Scheme. This is ample proof of how the NYSC scheme is truly a national effort not just at integrating the people but all sectors that make up the nation too. It is my appeal that the private sector such as multi nationals should key into it more by incorporating it into their annual corporate social responsibility schedule.
As a new Director General of the NYSC takes over from General Kazaure, it is hoped that the Hope Alive Initiative is indeed kept alive. It is commendable to see that this appears to be the case with the recent gifting of disabled corp members with money and job opportunities.
We do not pray for our corpers to lose their lives or limbs in service to the nation but we are indeed reassured that their sacrifices would never go without mention and care from the government. It is our national duty that this young men and women be assured that their labors are not in vain and their nation would never forget them in their moments of immense need as this scheme has done and will hopefully continue to do.
Pelumi Olajengbesi Esq., is a Legal Practitioner and Principal Partner of Pelumi Olajengbesi & Co. Law Corridor.