Opinion: Serving your nation in tears and pain

by Akin Ogungbe


Why should ordinary registration of a foreign student for the NYSC scheme be made so expensive and cumbersome? Why should all foreign students go to Abuja just to register for the NYSC? Are there no state offices of the NYSC where this can be done?

The excitement and joy of a prospective National Youth Service Corps member from abroad will soon wane immediately he or she is faced with human hurdles placed in his or her path in the NYSC and Federal Ministry of Education offices, both in Abuja. By the time he or she is confronted with all these man-made obstacles created by Nigerians for Nigerians, he or she would rather opt out or go back to where he or she is coming from, and probably blame God for making him or her a Nigerian.

The truth is that we continue to frustrate our youths such that the remaining patriotism in them is destroyed because officials of those federal institutions they have to deal and interact with, continue to frustrate them in their bid to serve their nation. The trend in government establishment in Nigeria is to make a simple process difficult in order to induce corruption. For God’s sake, why should ordinary registration of a foreign student for the NYSC scheme be made so expensive and cumbersome? Why should all foreign students go to Abuja just to register for the NYSC? Are there no state offices of the NYSC where this can be done? What is the NYSC doing with the transcripts of foreign students as opposed to the original certificates brought along by the students? Why should each and every foreign student go to the Federal Ministry of Education in Abuja to obtain what they call “Letter of evaluation and accreditation” of their degrees? Why is the NYSC not working with the Federal Ministry of Education to get a database where you have the list of accredited institutions all over the world, as opposed to each foreign student queuing endlessly in the Federal Ministry of Education to get a letter of evaluation and accreditation? Can’t the NYSC afford a robust online-real-time website where these students can go to submit all information required for processing, rather than travelling down from abroad and probably back, only to come back at the call-up date? These are the questions begging for answers.  I will now go through each of these in view of the present experience I am faced with in respect of my daughter.

My daughter has the following qualifications-ACCA, MBA, BSc (Applied Accounting), in that order. She flew in to Lagos on January 14, 2013 from London to beat the registration deadline for the next batch of students for the National Youth Service going to camp on March 6. On Wednesday, January 16, she flew to Abuja with the excitement of getting registered to serve her nation. She was wrong to have imagined that it would be a simple, straightforward process, having armed herself with all that was posted on the NYSC website. At the NYSC office, the procedure was smooth up to the last stage, where the officer came up with “invented” demands. Firstly, she does not know what ACCA (Association of Certified Chartered Accountants) was. She could not believe that my daughter could have completed her ACCA in such a record time, even though she passed her Advanced Level papers and AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) before sitting for the ACCA.  The officer stood her ground, and would want her to go to the Federal Ministry of Education to go and collect a Letter of Evaluation and Accreditation of her ACCA despite the fact that she passed her B.Sc (Hons) in Applied Accounting from Oxford Brookes University. That was to be the beginning of another tortuous and unending procedure, where she met a huge crowd of foreign students who came for the same purpose. Of course, they studied in various countries all over the world. The officers of the ministry seemed to like it that way, in the name of corruption. Many of these students had been in pursuit of this “golden” letter for up to five weeks. They had to incur hotel accommodation and feeding costs as they were not resident in Abuja. According to my daughter, the situation was chaotic, and was an embarrassment to our dear country. Having envisaged bureaucracy as is usual with government offices, her return flight to Lagos had been confirmed for Saturday so that she could go back to her base in London on Monday.

She ran back to NYSC office to explain the rowdy situation in the Federal Ministry of Education, and to explain that she had to go back to her base in London. There, she was faced  with yet another obstacle. The officer said her certificates only showed her first and surname, without her middle name. My daughter’s explanation to her that the British style now is to use your first and surname would not hold water. What then would the officer advise her to do? She would want her to go and swear to an affidavit. So, another journey began to the court to go and swear to an affidavit. So, on Thursday, January 17, 2013, she set out to do this. That being concluded around mid-day, she ran back to the NYSC office to submit it, conscious of the fact that she had only Friday left to conclude her assignment in Nigeria. By the way, the Evaluation and Accreditation Office of the Federal Ministry of Education does not attend to students after 2 pm. My daughter then sought a favour from the officer. That an employee of my friend’s company in Abuja who had been taking her round, should collect the letter from the Federal Ministry of Education and hand it over to her as soon as it was ready. This, she obliged her. On getting back to the Federal Ministry of Education, there was no hope in the horizon. Some students had been around for over five weeks in search of this “special” letter. My daughter was lucky that our contact could even take her that far to that stage where the “almighty officer” designated to sign the letter was not available, and nobody knew when he would be back from his duty tour. Nevertheless, my daughter had to return to Lagos on Saturday, January 19, with the hope that our surrogate would collect the letter whenever it was ready, and deliver a photostat copy to the NYSC office for processing.

Information at my disposal as of January 28, 2013, is that the so-called letter is not yet ready. Can you then imagine the nightmare these officials are subjecting our youths to? A nation that mocks its youths is a failed country. Whoever is responsible for these bottlenecks is doing a disservice to this country. They are the future leaders of this country, and we cannot afford to treat them as if they are not relevant in the scheme of things. I am therefore using this medium to appeal to the Minister of Education and the Director-General of the NYSC to urgently look into these lapses and proffer immediate solutions.


Akin Ogungbe is a Chartered Accountant based in Lagos.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

Comments (3)

  1. The process is too frustrating! I have gone through it and mine was not even half of what your daughter went through but yet I felt so frustrated. I nearly gave up and said screw NYSC.

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