When every youth who has successfully completed a programme in tertiary institution enrolls for the National Youth Service Corp programme, one important thing the youth has to learn is what is popularly called the NYSC anthem during the first three weeks of orientation camp. The anthem, like the national anthem and several others that we have, has wonderful short lines but that is all there is to it for now. Here are the lines
Youths obey the clarion call
Let us lift our nation high
Under the sun or in the rain
With dedication and selflessness
Nigeria’s ours, Nigeria we serve.
When I was at the orientation camp I saw a practical violation of the creed that the anthem was supposed to pass on to those reciting it but the truth was that they did nothing more than reciting that anthem.
As much as I do not want to sound negative I still have a few questions to put forward regarding the actions of the people reciting the anthem. The first line says, ‘Youths obey the clarion call,’ but the real issue is, ‘how many youths know the clarion call that they have to obey or how many of them know that there is a clarion call to obey in the first place?’ We simply have people who are so passionate about music, unfortunately it’s not what you can even call music but they call it music because it has beats and someone is screaming. Music in itself is not a crime but it becomes a disaster when it is what the future leaders of a nation simply focus on and they have not been adequately trained in another the areas where the nation is desperately crying for solution.
The second line says, ‘let us lift our nation high,’ but one thing you need to see was the character that totally opposes the creed of people trying to lift a nation high. One of the premonitions that every prospective corp member gets when coming to the orientation camp is that you have to be so careful with your belongings. There are certain things you should not take into the camp even though you need them. Some of those who had the kind of mobile phones that can help you transact business online while seating on a spot had to weigh their options of bringing the phone and stand a chance on loosing it or buying a small phone that they would not think about stealing. According to predictions of the people who forewarned us, non-living things like phones began to develop legs in hostels. Money kept inside waist bags began to grow wings and practically flew out of the bags. A number of other things that were never reported also got missing and I the middle of all these you remember that some of the people involved are the people who have been asked to come and lift the nation high.
One day after a busy schedule I returned to the hostel and walked into an argument going among some of the people who were lodged in the same room with me. The people are according to the last few lines of the anthem are supposed to lift the nation high, ‘under the sun or in the rain, with dedication and selflessness’ where talking about how they would definitely steal from the national pause if they get a chance to occupy a political office. For me, the momentary disaster was to see youths of this nation who are, expectedly, going to be around for the next 40 years or more saying that Nigeria cannot change. They have said this to themselves repeatedly and some years later the same people will go back to their constituencies and tell the people they want to contest in elections because they can change the situation.
The last line of the anthem says, ‘Nigeria’s ours, Nigeria we serve,’ but right there you find people who replace that with a twisted line from the national pledge and they say, ‘to serve Nigeria is not by force.’ When the citizens of a nation open their mouths to say, to serve Nigeria is not by force,’ why will foreigners not cart away all our resources? Outsiders come into the country, identify opportunities, maximize them, make profit from them, take them back to their country but they have a platform to speak in the media they will tell you it’s a poor country and in the last 50 years we have taken the definition of the people who silently cart away our resources. Nobody has ever stopped to say, ‘if it is really a poor country, what are you doing around here?’ If you ever care to ask they will quickly respond by saying they came to help but do you help people and live them incapacitated?
Before I go totally off the point for this article I must say that we need to started working on youths who see, believe and identify with a creed rather than just reciting it. There is no nation that thrives on just reciting creeds that they do not believe in. as a matter of fact, the words in those lines come alive when the people reciting them know what they are talking about and the commitment that has to go into making it happen instead of just talking about it. I was told that the tertiary institutions churn out about 150, 000 corp members annually and that implies we have 150, 000 youths who just recite what is supposed to be a national creed yet they complain bitterly about what’s going on in the nation.
Let us truly obey the clarion call now!
Fola Daniel Adelesi, ASM