Sunday, 14 October 2018

MY NYSC YEAR, I served with Humility

The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) was established by General Yakubu Gowon administration, on  May 22, 1973, as a one year scheme for graduates of universities and later polytechnics for the reconciliation, reconstruction, and rebuilding of Nigeria, after the civil war that just ended then. It has continued as a scheme to build better relationship and understanding over the years.  

In a hand shake with the then Attorney-General of Ondo State  

Corps members are posted to States other than their States of origin where they are expected to mix with people from different ethnic groups, social and family backgrounds, and learn the culture of the indigenes in the location they are posted to. This action is aimed at bringing about unity in the country and help the youths appreciate other ethnic groups. There is an "orientation" period of approximately three weeks spent in a military controlled "camp" away from family and friends. There is also a "passing out ceremony" at the end of the three weeks orientation camp after which Corp members are posted to their Place of Primary Assignment (PPA). They are expected to work as full time staff at their PPA with exception of one working day devoted for the execution of community development service. After eleven months at their PPA, corp member are allowed a one month of vacation before their final passing out ceremony where they would be issued certificates of completion.

taking part in road repair 

In 1991, when my NYSC posting came in and I was posted to serve in the same state where I schooled, I was not happy, I wanted to serve up North, so I can have the experience of their culture, since I am from the East and schooled in the West, North was on my mind. I was posted for my NYSC orientation to Efon Alaaye Camp in Ondo State. My camp number was OD/91/1022. After my university degree I had returned to Lagos, when it was time for camping, I had some business running and I did not get to camp on time. As at when I arrived the NYSC orientation camp, the swearing-in was already held and I was advised to return and join the second batch that it was late to join the first batch. It was painful to me but there was nothing I could do. 

For the second batch camping, haven't learnt my lesson, the bitter way when I missed being in the first batch, I arrived the camp, two days before the camping date. On arrival there was only a local security man attached to the camp venue, the first set of soldiers for the training arrived a day to the camp date and I found them friendly as I welcomed them and we became friends. My aim was to be number ONE, but the soldiers, in fact the ‘RSM’ Sergeant Hassan advised me that I should go for number 10, he told me that the advantage of my being number 10, was that if there are assignments or routines, I can learn from the mistakes of the first nine and take corrections naturally. I followed his instructions and I was encouraged never to miss any event in the camp.  

Years later, getting a commendable handshake with the first National Director of NYSC, Dr Ali

By evening of the same day that the soldiers arrived, we had the first set of incoming Corp members arrived from Calabar, 4 of them, three boys and a girl, Blessing. The soldiers gave me my first assignment to welcome them, which I did, I went through their call-up-letters, pretending to be a soldier and they believed that I was one of the soldiers until the next day when they saw me in my NYSC uniform.   

leading the pack with my red tape

I held positions of responsibilities, without shying away, I was told that my activities in the camp will go a long way to prepare me for the NYSC year and life after NYSC and that was exactly what I did and I had no regret for it.

Standing with fellow corp members and our RSM Hassan

I was a member of Platoon-One, I was also a member of the Swearing-in-Special Squad (SSS) (made up of 22 members), we were trained under the watchful eyes of the RSM, Staff Sergeant Hassan, who was assisted by Abubakar, I am not sure of his rank. The RSM, appointed me the Flag bearer of the SSS. After watching my performance, he told me that he will like me to be the Swearing-in-Special Squad Commander, I accepted for that was my dream, as the Commander, I will be the number ONE, Corp Member. I was trained even secretly in order to get the position.  Although the Camp Captain had the finale say on who will be the SSS Commander. All, that I needed to do was to be fit enough, walk with authority, talk with authority and be able to shout at the top of my voice without a microphone and loud speakers, and command enough respect among my fellow Corp Members for me to be selected. I had all that and more, I had the height, I had enough carriage and handsome, I was a delight to be with. I was the only Corp Member with a TV set, portable TV and I also had a mini Sonny tape recorder with some nice music, as such I had admirers and enemies too. 

With a Fellow Corp Member, Mr Simplicious Nkwo

Unfortunately, I had one disadvantage, when it was time to pick the Commander, it was done by voting, the Captain brought out the two of us, myself and another Corp member from the University of Nigeria Nsukka, and Corp members were asked to vote for us, the guy from Nsukka won, because Nsukka had a 2/3 of the population of Corp members in the camp, while those of us from my school were just two, because we were meant to be in the first batch. That was how I missed being the SSS Commander. 
In my Platoon ONE, I was the Chairman of Social and Cultural Committee and Vice chairman of Disciplinary Committee. I was the platoon football team Patron and was fondly addressed as the Platoon leader Special Adviser. I was a member of the Platoon Food Committee (PFC) and was the Hostel Vice President.

On parade 

I attended all morning physical training, Drills Man ‘O’ war programme and the para-military training, I never missed any and it kept me in shape. I was sociable and friendly with my fellow Corps members, NYSC staff, Army personnel’s and the police.

With Fellow Corp members serving in OSUA

At the mammy market, I had a permanent chair, if any Corp member is seated there and I am sighted from a distance coming, the woman who owns the stand will plead that he or she should stand up that I paid for the chair. I never liked Fela Kuti’s music until I got to Camp, that was when I had the opportunity to listen to the lyrics of his song and I discovered that yes, he made lots of sense.

After the 28 days orientation in the camp, I was posted to Ado-Ekiti for my primary assignment. Interestingly, I was posted to my Alma Mata Ondo State University, where I served in the office of the University Registrar, responsible directly to the Deputy Registrar, Mrs. Faluyi, AKA (Margret Thatcher).

Left right, left right

In August 1992, I was appointed the C.L.O. (Corpers Liaison Officer). I maintained two offices: (1) the office of the C.L.O. in Ado-Ekiti Local Government Secretariat and (2) as Administrative officer in Ondo State University, Ado-Ekiti. 

salute to the nation

Our NYSC allowance (Alawee) was N100, I must say, few Corp members could survive on this for a whole month, not to talk of spending it for projects, but then I discover that the more you give out the more you get. For my last eight months after I was appointed CLO, I was getting N200, the university paid N100 and the Local Government also paid N100. For my one year of service to my nation, I executed about seven community projects all self-financed, the projects were:

Platoon One football team, of which I was the patron

The theme of the campaign was “The child without Tobacco” I spent N1, 009. I printed T-Shirts, handbills and face-caps. Posters and pamphlets on smoking were donated to me from the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization. My targeted audience were students in Secondary Schools in Ado-Ekiti. My time duration of the projects was 6 weeks from November 4th- December 9th . The procedure was simple, I visited secondary schools and held lectures with the students, distributed write ups on smoking and posters on the dangers of smoking. The projects educate young boys and girls in secondary schools about the dangers and health risks involved in cigarette smoking. Discouraged hundreds of secondary school students from taking up the habit of smoking cigarette. 

With my bunk mate in the camp, Mr Wasiu from Ibadan

The book traced the origin of cigarette smoking from 1942 to 1992, it explained why people smoke and why they should not, it also tells of how people starts smoking and how they can stop. A 79 page book with comments of smokers as well as non-smokers with quotations from eminent personalities the world over. The foreword of the book was written by Prof. Olikoye Ransome, Kuti, then Minister of Health. The cost of producing the manuscript before going to press was N641.00. The printing cost was N9,000.00 and was printed by Olaniyi Printing Press, Ado-Ekiti. The book was launched on the 3rd of April by the Rotaract Club of Ado-Ekiti.

walking on two ropes

I designed a flexible ladder that can be folded and stretched at will. The ladder can be used for household choruses like painting of walls, hanging of art works and flower pots on the walls. It can easily be folded to enter the boot of a car without obstructing road regulations. My production cost was N149.00.

Without my NYSC Uniform, OSUA 1992

ROAME was a game designed because of the increase in the number of road accidents on our highways. It was a double purpose game that teaches its players, traffic rules and regulations and also served as a relaxation/entertainment game. ROAME was designed to meet up with the daily standard of traffic rules. The foreword was written by Prof. D.O. Owuamanam, Professor of Educational Psychology and Dean, Faculty of Education, Ondo State University. Production cost N740.00. the game was submitted to NYSC directorate, Akure. 

With fellow Corp Members

Who’s who in Ondo State University, a book of 380 pages, a historical and reference information book containing the biographical data of all the academic and administrative staff of the University from inception in 1982 to 1992; a period of ten years. It also contains the names of the Visitors or Governor of Ondo State from 1982-1992, members of the governing council and senate, including the composition of its various committees from 1982-92. The entries were accompanied by the photographs of those concerned. Some important dates and events in the history of the university, names of all the graduating students of the University from the first convocation in 1986 to 1992. The foreword of the book was written by the University Vice-Chancellor, Prof. P.O. Bodunrin and the book was edited by Prof. D.O. Olagoke, Dean, Faculty of Arts. Total cost of production before going to the press is N2, 560.00. The book was published by the university and launched alongside a hostel project and Chief MKO Abiola was the Chief launcher.

With my red tape and portable TV, my trade marks in the NYSC Camp

This project involved the planting of flowers and tree plants at the Ado-Ekiti City Hall, to beautify the Environment of the Hall. Total Cost was N197.50.

handing in the air

I designed an NYSC all season card, that could be used for independence day, worker’s day, mother’s day, Christmas’ day, Easter’s day, Id-el-fitri, Id-el-malud, Id-el-Kabba etc. the card simply reads: greetings from Ondo State NYSC, Ado-Ekiti. Cost of production N480 for 10 copies, sample as submitted to NYSC office, Akure in Ondo State.

fixing a light bulb with one of my innovation, the flexible ladder 


With my University Vice Chancellor, Prof Peter Bodurin

At the end of the NYSC year, I got a letter of commendation  by Mr. A.O. Femubode, the Head of Personnel Management at Ado Ekiti Local Government to the NYSC Office, the letter stated in part, thus:

“I am recommending to you, Mr. Raphael James, a National Youth Service Corps member, who shared his primary responsibilities between Ondo State University and the Local Government, where he acted as the Corps Liaison Officer from 20th August, 1992 to January, 1993.

Mr. Raphael James is a corps member with a burning ego to work determination to finish his works and a strong optimism for positive results. If it is true that great people are ordinary people with extraordinary amounts of determination, then Mr. Raphael James is a great person.

He single handedly carried out 7 projects as his contribution to humanity in Ondo State in General and Ado-Ekiti in Particular, in spite of his meager allowance. For him, the end of every project was the beginning of new a one.

This young man is dynamic and very resourceful a good leader, who leads by example. Mr. James displayed this during his tenure as the Acting Corps Liaison Officer for the Ado-Ekiti Local Government. His good work was not unnoticeable, which was why one of the institutional based club, awarded to him a certificate of appreciation for his contribution to the development of his immediate community.

In the history of corps members in this local Government, Mr. Raphael James is one in a thousand and the Local Government is proud of him serving with us. We will appreciate it if the NYSC Secretariat will continue to send corps member who are like Mr. Raphael James, by so doing, the aim of the NYSC programme will be strengthened.

With Chief  MKO Abiola, who lunched me book

The Ondo State University Registrar Chief J.G.O. Adegbite on March 30th 1993, also wrote a letter of recommendation to the state Director, National Youth Service Corps, Akure, Ondo State. In the letter he stated in part, thus:

“The Vice-Chancellor would like me to write to you to support the recommendation made by the Local Government on Mr. Raphael James and to say that we in this university are in full support of the recommendation that the Mr. James deserves to win a state or even a National Award in recognition of the meritorious service which he carried out in this University and this Local Government during his NYSC year which has just ended. His contributions to the University community by the production of a book with appropriate pictures on the first 10 years of the existence of this University will stand forever in his name, apart from his exemplary behaviour in the Establishments Division of the registry where he served. His general conduct during the period served as a shining example to other workers in the Division, and his sense of responsibility and dedication to duty will forever remain green in our memory. There is no doubt at all that if he continues to behave in this manner, he will have a very good future in the public service of this country.” 

My first book, NYSC year

My second book, NYSC year

At the end of the NYSC year, I won the best Corp member award for Ado-Ekiti, Local Government, I also won the best Corp member Certificate/Award for Ondo State, I got three letters of commendation, from Ondo State University, Ado Ekiti Local Government and from a professor within the university. I also got gift items of a goat, ten tubers of yam and a gallon of palm oil from the King, Ewi of Ado-Ekiti for the beatification of the city hall and his palace. 

Certificate of Honour, Best in Ado-Ekiti LGA

Our NYSC Ado-Ekiti coordinator told me that a letter of recommendation was sent to the national head quarter of the NYSC for a national Award. I wrote a letter to the then National Director, Col. Hafiz Momoh and I explained to him why I was so convinced that I merited a national award, but I never got one.

Award of Honour, Best in Ondo state

If you are Corp member or you plan to serve in the future, my advice to you is don’t let the 365 days come and go, make use of it, take full advantage of it, make a difference in your place of primary assignment.

I served my NYSC under him, then the Registrar of OSUA, Chief JGO Adegbite, (28 years later)

I got my first job a day after I returned to Lagos after my NYSC, I did not beg to apply, I had gone to Newswatch to present a copy of my book to Mr Nyaknno Osso, who was the Chief Librarian and Editor of “Who’s who in Nigeria, on the presentation of a copy of “WHO’S WHO IN ONDO STATE UNIVERSITY ADO-EKITI A DECADE OF EXCELLENCY” he asked me where I work, I told him I just came back from NYSC only but yesterday and have no job yet, he asked if I will like to work with Newswatch, I said ‘Yes Sir’ and he replied “You are hired” that was how I got my first job without applying and by the time I picked my second job after I left Newswstch 2 years to work in the Presidency, most of my mates where still jobless, not because I was better than them, but because I acquired so much knowledge during my NYSC year. You can do better than me, out in some extra time to serve with humility.
Now, Pastor Nyaknno Osso, he gave me my first job, based on my NYSC performance 


  1. I got inspired by this write up. Kudos to you sir. Keep up the good work of putting us looking up to you on track.

  2. I got inspired by this write up. Kudos to you sir. Keep up the good work of putting us looking up to you on track.