It’s unfit for humans – Corps members
States must help to improve on facilities – Officials
‘We live with reptiles in our hostels’
Orientation camps, across the country, like most infrastructures everywhere in the country, are in sorry state. In most of the camps, corps members sleep on bare floor, while others are accommodated in Secondary School hostels that lack basic social amenities. In this report, our Correspondents across the country take a look at the orientation camps, in their areas. The findings, is as presented below:
From, Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, Femi Folaranmi, reports that the 1500 corps members posted to the Kaiama camp have to contend with the accommodation that has been provided by the state government. The block of hostels for the female has been extended, while additional ones have been constructed for the male.
“We don’t have water problem here. Though water does not flow inside the hostels, there is water from the bore holes powered by the solar facility and there is water in the various tanks” Chichi a Corp member said.
Saturday Sun investigations however revealed that open defecation especially in some uncompleted buildings around the camp is still common in spite of the toilet facilities provided by the authorities.
Compared to the one room, that was allocated for clinical activities in the past; the camp now has a standard clinic with an ambulance to complement it.
Also an official who declined to reveal his name because he is not authorised to speak on behalf of the NYSC said the Bayelsa NYSC camp has a standard medical facility that can take care of many medical emergency.
From Oyo State, OLUSEYE OJO, reports that the Permanent Orientation camp of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Oyo State is located on the Iseyin-Okeho Road in Iseyin Local Government Area.
A recent visit to the camp revealed that the corps members deployed to the State are enjoying modern infrastructural facilities, which include clinic, staff quarters, hostels, kitchens, dining hall, boreholes, pavilion, parade ground and a standard football pitch.
Security is being provided at the camp by the Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
The camp, according to Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, encapsulates the dreams of his administration to restore the lost glory of the State as a pace setter.
When the immediate past Director General of NYSC, Brig. Gen. Johnson Olawumi, visited the camp, he commended the State government for constructing a permanent orientation camp for corps members.
But feeding arrangement for the corps members currently undergoing orientation could not be ascertained as there was no access to them.
The Public Relations Officer of NYSC in the State, Mr. Kehinde Simeon, could not be reached, as he was said to have been busy at the orientation camp. It was however gathered that access would only be granted to visit the camp when the corps members must have completed their orientation course.
From Ondo State, BAMIGBOLA GBOLAGUNTE, reports on the apologetic state of the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) camp in the sunshine State.
The camp, according to findings, has continued to be a source of worry to serving NYSC corps members, parents and other stakeholders.
Saturday Sun gathered that the facilities in the camp have become dilapidated with no efforts by management of the NYSC to rehabilitate them. The camp is located on Ikare-Akoko in Akoko North West Local Government Area of the State.
The state of the camp is said to be as old as the State, as corps members posted to the State complained of the poor facilities at the camp. They are appealing to the relevant authorities to improve the facilities at the camp in the interest of the corps members.
Findings by Saturday Sun revealed that many of the structures at the camp have become dilapidated. Although new structures have been erected, the old ones are still being occupied in their poor state by corps members, a situation which poses serious dangers to their lives.
Also, feeding was said to be another major challenge, corps members face in Ondo State. They alleged that they were not provided with nutritious food. One of the corps members, Afolabi, while decrying the poor condition of food, served at the camp said “we were entitled to at least a tin of milk in a day, but we were not given. Rather, they buy sachet powdered milk for us and 10 people can share one at times. The feeding is poor, to the extent that many develop sickness in camp.”
Efforts to get the reaction of the Director of NYSC in the State proved abortive. But an official of the NYSC, who preferred anonymity informed that the facilities at the orientation camp are being improved upon, adding that new structures have been built and additional ones would also be built soon to cater for the needs of the increasing number of the corps members, deployed to the State.
From Ogun State, LAIDE RAHEEM, reports that the Permanent Orientation camp of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in the State, located on Sagamu-Ikenne Road in Sagamu Local Government Area, was constructed and commissioned in 2006 by the then Governor of the State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel.
The camp, annexed to the Sagamu International Stadium, when completed, boast of modern facilities.
When Saturday Sun visited the camp, personnel of the Nigeria Army, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and Nigeria Police (including bomb squad), were stationed at the entrance to the camp, to provide adequate security for corps members and camp officials. But our Correspondent was not allowed entry into the camp.
An NYSC officials who was called by the security personnel to attend to our reporter, explained that a directive from the NYSC headquarters in Abuja, stated that any journalist who is not accredited cannot be allowed into the camp.
The official, who craved anonymity, further stated that tight security around the camps in the country could not be unconnected with the security situation in the country.
When asked to speak on the situation as well as the state of the camp, the official said he was not allowed to speak to the press unless he gets an official nod from his superior officer.
He, however, said the Public Relations Officer of the State NYSC, who could probably comment on the state of the camp, was not in the camp as she was said to have gone to town on an official assignment.
Meanwhile, a peep by our Correspondent, into the camp revealed that some buildings in the camp, 10 years after it was declared open, still retain their immaculate and pristine look. Some corps members were also sighted in their white shorts and vests, engaging in one activities or the order.
But the present state of the facilities in the camp like electricity, water supply, accommodation, conveniences and others, could not be ascertained.
EMMANUEL ADEYEMI, from Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, reports that the orientation camp of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) located at Asaya- Kabba, about three kilometers away from Kabba Town, off the Iyara-Omuo road, is in need of total rehabilitation.
Our correspondent observed on a visit to the camp through a bumpy, dusty earth-road that, it has no perimeter fencing, a situation that poses great security risk, to the premises and occupants of the place. Though the only road leading to the camp was manned by a combined team of soldiers and men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, thick bushes inhabited by snakes and other dangerous reptiles surrounded the area.
It was learnt that the perimeter fencing of the camp was awarded to an indigene of Kabba, who was a member of the State House of Assembly during the administration of ex-governor Ibrahim Idris, but the job was abandoned after allegedly collecting the contract sum, running into millions of Naira.
Apart from the fence, the camp lacked office accommodation, with the administrative block serving as the Coordinator’s office, accounts department, and corps registration centre, among others, even as many dilapidated buildings in need of renovation were left abandoned.
Though it has enough hostel accommodation for corps members, requisite facilities are either not existent or where available, were an eyesore. The toilets are insufficient and in bad shape, a situation that forced most of the corps members and staff to defecate in the surrounding bushes, with corps members who responded to our Correspondent’s enquiries, complaining of not having their privacy when they want to use the convenience.
But the meals served corps members were said to be good, even as the current economic recession in the country is said to have grossly affected the quality and quantity of the meals served presently.
The story is however different at the mobile clinic in the camp, manned by inadequate medical personnel. They were manned by few medical graduates serving under the scheme, with little or no drugs. It was learnt that officials at the camp lacked operational vehicles, staff quarters and other vital logistics, which they had consistently requested from the State government without any positive response.
Sources hinted that successive governors of the State, including the incumbent, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, only demonstrated lip service to the needs of the NYSC in the State.
From Makurdi, the Benue State capital, ROSE EJEMBI, reports that the NYSC camp, located at Wanunne, about 42 kilometers from Makurdi, is sited on a hill, on the Makurdi-Gboko highway, in Tarka Local Government Area of the State. Just by the roadside, is the entrance which ushers you into a large expanse of land used as the parade ground while a road to the left leads one to the hall, the kitchen, mammy market and then, to the hostels.
The Permanent Site of the Orientation camp which was started during the administration of former Governor George Akume, who hails from Wannunne, was completed and put into use during the administration of immediate past governor, Dr. Gabriel Suswam.
Before then, youth corps members were having their orientation at Government College, Makurdi, which for several years, served as a temporary camp, in Benue State.
Saturday Sun observed that though there were facilities at the camp for all activities, some of them were in bad shape, while others are inadequate. A corps member currently undergoing orientation, painted a sorry state of some of the facilities at the camp such as the hostel accommodation, feeding and the toilets which are said to be in a very bad shape such that corps members had no other option than to resort to what they term ‘short-putting’ (open defecation) in the bush.
Our correspondent further observed that apart from the toilets, the hostels are inadequate for the number of corps members currently undergoing orientation at the camp.
A source disclosed that the beds are so close that there is hardly any space between two beds leading to poor ventilation in the hostels, a development which she posited, could result in an outbreak of epidemic.
Feeding got an abysmal rating from the corps members at the camp, who said meals served inmates at the nation’s prisons were comparatively better than what was served them.
“Their food is zero. The food we are served daily is strictly rice, beans, yam, garri with okra or Mellon soup, which is usually not well cooked. And if you don’t go on time, you are likely not to get food because they would say food had finished; I believe that even prisoners are better fed than us”, one of the corps members remarked.
He, however, said “there’s constant power supply and enough water in the camp. The fence is not high, but the security personnel are on top of their game. I give kudos to the NYSC authority in these areas, but the other bad facilities needed to be looked into”, he noted.
Efforts to speak with the NYSC authority in the State failed after several calls were put to the mobile phone of Public Relations Officer, who simply identified himself as Philibus.
He said the State Coordinator, Mrs. Esther Atamenwan, had instructed that she does not want to speak with journalists. He said:”Is that the Sun woman? Well, I met my boss about your plan to come to the orientation camp to see her and she said she did not want to talk to any journalist.”
When our Correspondent tried to explain to him why it was necessary for the authorities at the State level to react, to ensure the report was balanced, he cut off the conversation after retorting: “What will you write? If you write anything against us, we will take you to court.”
GYANG BERE, from Jos, the Plateau State capital, report that the authorities of the NYSC are taking precautionary measures to avert sudden loss of lives at the orientation camp.
When our reporter visited the kitchen, corps members were busy preparing for lunch at about 11:30 am. Those who spoke to Saturday Sun expressed satisfaction with the preparation of quality of meals served them.
Miss Omeri Deborah, a corps member who hails from Anambra State, expressed satisfaction with the level of security provided, preparation of meals, and convenience in the camp, but said it lacked steady power supply, particularly at night, leading to cases of theft among corps members.
She said items such as laptops, handsets, bags with valuable items and money, had severally been carted away by thieves. However, the greatest challenge facing most corps members which usually affect their health is the weather in Jos, which has become a source of discomfort to Dickson John and Joseph Idiong, both corps members.
Though satisfied with the state of facilities at the camp, they wish to relocate from Plateau State as a result of the cold weather. Interestingly, boiled water vendors have taken advantage of the situation, supplying hot water to corps members at N50 per bucket.
The business is booming, as no corps member would risk bathing with cold water. NYSC State Coordinator for Plateau, Mr. Salawu Abdulrazak, expressed grief over the recent loss of corps member in Kano, and two other States. He said the orientation camp in the State had not recorded outbreak of disease or death of any corps member, adding that the authorities had no reason to compromise feeding as outlined in the NYSC guidelines.
“What we cannot give our children at home, we can’t give it to corps members here on camp because they have been entrusted into our hands; we prioritized their welfare and anyone who is sick beyond our control is referred immediately to Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), or given permission to go home for treatment. Pregnant women and those with infant children are not allowed to be drilled; rather, they are given permission to go home while those who are physically challenged are provided with wheel chairs”, he noted.
LINUS OOTA, reports from Keffi, in Nasarawa State, that the camp, could arguably be among the best, in the country, in terms facilities. But it lacked adequate space following the rise in the number of corps members deployed to the State.
The facilities at the camp started deteriorating at the peak of the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east, when the management of NYSC resorted to posting a high number of corps members to the camp above its capacity.
A visit by our Correspondent to the camp showed that accommodation, water supply, feeding, the toilets and bathrooms are not in good condition, due to the large population. Some of the corps members who spoke with our Correspondent lamented that the hostels were over-crowded, with broken windows, cracked walls, flooded bathrooms and stinking toilets.
A corps member at the camp, Emeka Ogochukwu, said they faced health risks due to living in dingy rooms, used as hostels, infested with bed bugs and the stench of urine, as well as epileptic power and water supply to the camp. “The appalling condition of the hostel facilities is regretted because NYSC posted more than the capacity of the camp and the hotels are congested. Instead of having six or eight corps members per room, we are 12 and in most cases, 14 per room, which is not good. We don’t have constant light. There is no constant water, and our toilets are very bad”, he lamented.
NYSC Director, Planning, Research and Statistics in Nasarawa State, Anthony Ani, said the facilities at the camp needed to be renovated with new structures built. “This camp cannot contain 2000 corps members and right now, we have about 2,057 corps members and we will still have stream 2; we need new structures and the existing ones should be renovated. “
According to him, the intervention of the State government is very important because the scheme, unknown to many, is not the sole responsibility of the federal government, but also that of the State governments and other critical stakeholders. He called on the government of Nasarawa State to renovate the orientation camp in the State to adequately cater for the increasing population of corps members.
Mrs Habiba Bappah, State Coordinator of the NYSC, confirmed to our Correspondent that the camp is faced by several challenges that needed urgent attention. “In fact as I speak with you, the old generator is faulty and we are trying to fix it; but I believe if some of these urgent needs are attended to, our members in Nasarawa State will enjoy life better and be motivated to serve their communities better after orientation” she said.
From Minna, the Niger State capital, JOHN ADAMS reports that for the past 30 years, the NYSC authorities in the State have continued to use part of Government Secondary School Paiko, Paikoro Local Government Area of the State, situated about 20 kilometers from Minna, the State capital, as its temporary orientation camp.
The camp lacked facilities for human comfort, despite repeated appeals by the NYSC management to successive administrations in the State to assist in providing a permanent camp.
The only attempt at building a permanent camp was in 2010, when a former governor of the State, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu, awarded N579million contract for the construction of a permanent orientation camp on Minna-Suleja road. The contract, which the government said was the first phase of the project, was however, abandoned after the contractor allegedly collected 20 percent of the contract sum, amounting to about N29million as mobilization fee.
“Apart from the dilapidated structures you see here, the camp does not have water, no light and no beds. Yes they are trying in the area of feeding, but the environment is nothing to write home about. We are here because it is mandatory for us. Some of the classrooms which they converted to hostels have no windows, some of the beds also don’t have mattresses”, a corps member at the camp who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
Another female corps member also lamented how lack of toilet and bathroom facilities, had forced them to defecate and bath in the open.
Worried by the condition of the temporary camp, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, during a visit, ordered the renovation of some of the structures, with a promise to look into the possibility of reviving the abandoned permanent orientation camp project. Six months after he gave the directive for renovation of some structures at the temporary site, nothing has been done.
Niger State Coordinator of the NYSC, Mrs. Bolade Loto, appealed to the State government to fulfill its promise of completing the NYSC permanent orientation camp at Paiko. She said the appeal has become necessary in view of the hardship being faced by the corps members during orientation.
LAYI OLANREWAJU, from Kwara State, reports that it is the same lamentation over infrastructural deficit at the NYSC temporary orientation site at Yikpata, Edu Local Government Area of Kwara State. Established in 1979, and formerly used as camp by the Citizen and Leadership Training Centre, the camp is located on the Ilorin- Share-Lafiagi road, which is about one and a half drive from Ilorin, the State capital. It is surrounded by bushes and make-shift shelters inhabited by Fulani herdsmen.
Our Correspondent reports that corps members queue with plastic buckets for hours before they could get water to bath or do domestic shores. With regards to security, sources said a perimeter fence was erected just recently to wade off reptiles and straying Fulani cattle and herdsmen, which had posed danger to corps members, when the Director General of the scheme visited site. The NYSC boss, who was said to be shocked on visiting the site, had threatened to shut down the camp.
From Kano, DESMOND MGBOH, reports that a number of corps members complained bitterly about the cold weather in the camp, a condition that was worsen by the dam that lies adjacent to the camp.
One area that was emotionally reported was the issue of feeding. Although views differ on this, it was generally held that the quality and quantity of the feeding arrangement was on a steady decline, with many corps members resorting to the buying extra food from the Mammy market.
Investigation by Saturday Sun indicated that many corps members were still in shock over the death of them, Miss Oladepo ifedolapo, who died on last Tuesday after she was admitted to the camp.
From Dutse, in Jigawa State, AHMED ABUBAKAR, reports that the camp is adjudged as the best NYSC camp in the country in terms of architectural design and unequalled facilities.
It was constructed by the immediate past administration of Alhaji Sule Lamido at the cost of N800 million and has the capacity to host up to 3,000 corps members at a time.
However, with the present increase in their number, sometimes numbering up to 4000 corps members, the management of the scheme has since decided to revive the former orientation camp in Gumel to make up for the additional numbers..
An official of the camp who pleaded anonymity, said the camp administration, after consultations with the national headquarters, Abuja agreed to re-open the former camp situated at the College of Education, Gumel due to the problems of inadequate facilities.
OLUSOLA OJO, from Kaduna, reports that the State Coordinator of the Scheme, Prince Muhammed Momoh told Saturday Sun that the welfare and safety of corps members remained a topmost priority as the scheme was determined to improve on its mandate on daily basis. According to him, “You have seen for yourself that what we have here is one of the best you can see in the country. The first thing that comes to the mind of any staff of NYSC is welfare and the safety of corps members. In fact, we value and care for them than ourselves because we know they are in our care here”.
From Kebbi, OLANREWAJU LAWAL, reports that the NYSC camp has many facilities such as a camp clinic, a vocational centre, four male and four female hostels, with 20 rooms each in addition to enough bed spaces for the corps members. The State Coordinator of the NYSC, Mr. Ebenezer Olusegun Olawale was unavailable for comment when Saturday Sun visited, but a reliable source argued that corps members were happy with both medical and welfare arrangements put in place to attend to their needs.
MOHAMMED MUNIRAT NASIR, reports from Gusau, the Zamfara State capital that to make the orientation camp more conducive and comfortable for corps members, Zamfara State Government recently earmarked N30 million for the rehabilitation and upgrading of the facilities in the camp.
From Sokoto, TUNDE OMOLEHIN, reports the State NYSC Coordinator, Mr. Thomas Yamma, said that the establishment of a permanent NYSC Orientation Camp in Sokoto State was his greatest achievement, adding that “when I resumed office, we are conducting our orientation at a temporary site located at Government Technical College, Farfaru, Sokoto, but through my efforts and the support of the former governor, Senator Aliyu Wamakko, I was able to secure a permanent orientation camp at Wamakko Local Government for camping of our corps members.”