The NYSC is withholding the certificates of hundreds of young Nigerians whom it accuses of forging relocation letters
By Ben Ezeamalu
Dozens of 2011, Batch B, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members, who finished their national service in June, besieged the Lagos State Coordinator’s office, Monday, protesting their withheld certificates.
About 336 corps members’ discharge certificates were withheld over allegations that they processed their relocation from the troubled northern states to Lagos with fake papers.
The corps members, however, maintained that they were redeployed from their original states, with their letters signed by NYSC officials, to Lagos State.
They also said that the Lagos State NYSC issued them identification numbers, following their redeployment.
“Tomorrow (August 14), it will be two months we passed out and yet no certificate,” one of the corps members, who preferred not to be named, said.
IN THE BEGINNING
In July 2011, when the corps members received their national call up letters to report to the trouble-prone states in the north; they asked for relocation.
By November, most of them had successfully completed their relocation and resumed at their newly assigned states.
However, by March, this year, their hitherto regular monthly allowances ground to an abrupt halt.
And when, in May, a new Lagos State (NYSC) Coordinator, Adenike Adeyemi, was appointed to replace Ladipo Laniyan, their troubles worsened.
“Some of us have not been paid for 8 months, 6 months, and yet we completed our national service,” the corps member said.
“Then on the day we passed out on 14th June 2012, she (Mrs. Adeyemi) came up with the story that our certificates have been withheld by the NYSC till further notice.
“She said that we are fake corps members who relocated from other states, mostly northern states to Lagos illegally,” the corps member added.
IGNORING THEIR CONCERNS
On Monday, the corps members gathered at the State Secretariat in Surulere to be addressed by Mr. Adeyemi.
They recounted their various experiences among themselves.
After three hours, when nobody attended to them; they trooped, in their tens, into Mrs. Adeyemi’s office.
A stern Mrs. Adeyemi, met them at the door, and asked them to air their grievances.
The first corps member that spoke, Gerald Okolie, said that his counterparts who relocated, alongside him, to other states had collected their certificates.
“How come their relocation paper is real and our own fake?”
Another speaker, who identified himself as Lanre, pleaded that they be punished if need be.
“Our lives are on hold, we can’t do anything. We are frustrated. We are your children, ma, please help us,” Mr. Lanre said.
“Once you are applying for a job and they say 26 years. Time is running out on us.
“It’s not our fault for the fake relocation papers. Even if we are going to be punished, let us know,” he added.
After listening to them, Mrs. Adeyemi proceeded to lecture them on the futility of justifying their cause by arguing that their relocation letters were signed by NYSC officials.
“Your relocation papers are not authentic. It is possible, for instance, for papers to come from this office but the state coordinator doesn’t know about it,” said Mrs. Adeyemi.
“Don’t pretend that you are not Nigerians,” she added.
Mrs. Adeyemi explained that relocation of corps members was beyond issuance of letters.
“So many administrative processes go on. Your name is removed from Kano, for instance, and taken to the new place you want to go,” she said.
“In your case, nothing has been done. That’s why headquarters has not issued any directive. In the papers of NYSC, your name is in Kano. You claim to finish from Lagos, but your names are not in Lagos,” Mrs. Adeyemi added.
A GENERAL PROBLEM
The Lagos State Coordinator said that although other states had similar issues, Lagos and Abuja were the most affected.
“The time corps members were relocating, we were specifically told that no relocation to Lagos and FCT (Abuja). That was a management decision,” said Mrs. Adeyemi, a former Kaduna State NYSC Coordinator.
She explained that many corps members wanted, citing security reasons, to be relocated to Lagos and Abuja.
“Because some people were desperate, they began to use back door,” she added.
Brandishing a bulky, spiral bound volume – a list containing names of corps members who relocated last month; Mrs. Adeyemi said that she “doesn’t derive any joy from keeping the corps members.”
“All through the service year, your names never featured in anyone. So when your names don’t feature throughout your service year, it means it doesn’t have the backing of headquarters,” said Mrs. Adeyemi.
The NYSC boss alleged that most of the young Nigerians probably offered bribe to willing NYSC officials to get the relocation done.
“At least, more than 90 percent of you paid some money to somebody, although most of you won’t admit it,” Mrs. Adeyemi said while stating that “relocation is free.”
Mrs. Adeyemi further said that she was awaiting directives from the NYSC headquarters on the issue.
“Why do you want me to give something I don’t have? Nobody has called me to say ‘release your certificates,” she said
The Lagos NYSC boss explained that her boss, the NYSC Director-General, was reviewing the controversy.
As they filed out, silently, out of the state director’s office, the corps members deliberated on their next line of action.
Already, they have opened a twitter account with a bio data ‘After serving under the sun and in the rain, we should not be treated like this. Seeking freedom.’