Under the National Youth Service Corps- NYSC- in Nigeria, one of the awards and the highest award a corps member who is preparing for his Passing-Out-Parade- POP- is issued in the Federal Capital Territory-Abuja-FCT- is the FCT-Minister Award Certificate which is equivalent to a State Governor’s Award Certificate, which is awarded as a mark of honour and recognition of excellence for the serving corps member’s great efforts and sacrifices rendered to the posted community as Community Development Services-CDS- and for his giant roles in rendering Personal Community Development Services- P-CDS- to his hosting community(ies), hence, the topic under discourse.
The writer of this paper was one among those five (5) corps members who were awarded the FCT-Minister’s Award Certificate, Batch C- 2014, at his POP in the year 2015, and as the only lawyer to be so awarded in that year and as a member of the Legal Aid Community Development Services- LA-CDS. On that day of POP, hopes were filled in the writer of this paper that at least, the pains that have been invested in the course of the projects are not wasted rather yielded positive results! All the awardees were very happy and assured that their ever dreamt focus will come through in no time, as the award of such certificate is a great stepping stone to a higher and better life! This is because, apart from the accruing benefits of monetary award, automatic employment, etc. that are expected to come along with the award from the FCT-Minister, the certificate itself adds a great value to the awardees’ Curriculum Vitae (CV). More so, both public and private entities look forward to employing those of the awardees in their various establishments with a high level of emoluments. And that is why one will be very happy to be honoured with such an award!
On that day, when the said award certificate was issued- which was in the beginning of the Administration of His Excellency, the Honourable, the Minister of FCT Administration- Mohammed Musa Bello-, who was represented by the then FCT Administration’s Permanent Secretary, who was also himself represented by another official in the FCT service, at the POP, all the awardees had hands shakes with the FCT-Minister as a mark of honour and excellence for the awardees, as they marched towards him to receive the award one after the other. However, at the end of these hand-shakes and the POP, the NYSC-FCT-State Secretariat’s officials in the Awards and Discipline Department approached all the awardees, including the writer of this paper and requested to collect back the already issued award certificates on the ground that the FCT-Minister has not signed them all. All the awardees were all surprised that why then did you disguise and present the said certificate to the public as if all is well?! Then the said officials informed the awardees and promised that in the next two (2) weeks, the said awards will be ready for collection at the NYSC-FCT-State Secretariat. All the awardees were all encouraged to come forward by that time to collect our certificate each. Surprisingly, this is just four (4) years since then, the certificate is yet to be returned back to any of the awardees! Frustratingly, the writer of this paper paraded the said Secretariat to enquire when the award certificate will be returned back to him. In fact, he discussed with the FCT-State Coordinator then in charge directly who promised that the said certificate will be returned very soon and that it was the FCT-Minister that the NYSC was waiting for to request that the awards certificates be brought to his office and that however, they have not received any of such request. Also, that there are other awardees that were awarded by the previous administration whose award certificates are still pending in the secretariat. He gave the writer of this paper hopes that very soon, the awardees will be called for collection. Disappointingly, the writer of this paper wrote several letters to the NYSC-FCT-State Coordinator, the NYSC Director-General, the Honourable, the Minister for Youths and Sports, the Honourable, the Minister of FCT-Mohammed Musa Bello- and the Permanent Secretary of the FCT, on the issue of the said award certificate, within the said four (4) years but up till this moment, there is no result! Other awardees too have been calling the writer of this paper to inquire on the issue of the award certificate but when they got tired of no news yet, they stopped calling!
It must be expressed here, the pains that even the writer of this paper had gone through on the issue of this award. First, is it to talk of the stress and pains that one went through in carrying out the projects to completion, which after the completion of the projects lead the writer of this paper to be sick for two (2) weeks and be hospitalized in a hospital?! Or the pains and expectations which seemed lost if not for God’s support?! Etc?! Specifically, at the time when the award was issued to the writer of this paper, the writer of this paper was very hopeful just like any other awardees that at least, the sum of N200,000.00 that will be paid to each of the awardees will do a great favour and the employment opportunities accompanying too will breathe a new beginning of life but they all ended up in disappointment! The question is: how much is the sum of N200,000.00 to be paid to each of the awardees, the sum which if multiplied by 5 is just N1,000,000.00 (one million naira only)?!. And how much will it cost the FCT-Administration to employ just five (5) awardees into the service if not that the government is with due respect, an irresponsible government?! This is exactly what the government is with no apology! In fact, it will surprise the reader of this paper that the writer of this paper was also a State Counsel in the Office of the FCT-Minister, Legal Services Secretariat, FCT Administration, as a place of primary assignment in the NYSC, for good one year of his national youth service! Even in the said Legal Services Secretariat, he also made some impacts but all seem not being recognized! Furthermore, the writer of this paper was the Assistant-Director 1, LA CDS and a member of the LA CDS executives. He had a lot of impacts there then some of which still remain till date. For instance, close to the passing-out from the NYSC, the writer of this paper studied the association’s constitution and observed that there was the need for a repeal of the said constitution. He single handedly drafted a new constitution for adoption. Copies were sent to the executives of the association and the NYSC coordinators in charge. However, adoption was not made possible due to the passing out from the NYSC but the said constitution was recommended to the new administration and to the knowledge of the writer of this paper, the said constitution drafted was adopted as recommended. And if no further amendments have been made till date, it will still be the constitution of the association till date!
The question now is that: why do the NYSC LA CDS coordinators keep quiet about the award certificate without fighting for it from the authority? Or why is the NYSC keeping quite over the issue? Why did the Honourable, the Minister for Youths and Sports not doing anything on the complaints written to his office and duly acknowledged by his office? What is the FCT-Minister doing about this issue? Will he leave this issue like this until he vacates his office after the 2019 election?! What is the FCT Administration’s Permanent Secretary also doing about the issue?! What are the Director-General and the FCT-State Coordinator of the NYSC doing on this issue?! Or are they not all concerned?! How will any corps member be encouraged and or advised to carry out any personal project if this is the necessary result?! They say, awardees’ rewards are in God’s hands! The question is whether it is wrong to also enjoy the fruit of the efforts in this life?! All these issues narrated above gave rise to the writing of this paper as, as it is, it is as if the said NYSC FCT-Minister Award Certificate is just a camouflage in disguise! Thanks to God Almighty, that the writer of this paper is able to bear the struggle and being a legal practitioner, is engaged in his own private law office in Abuja!
Finally, the NYSC Director-General, the NYSC FCT-State Coordinator and the Honourable, the Minister of the FCT Administration are to note that the judgment’s day, if at all they believe in it, will very soon arrive and God Almighty shall decide and do justice for the undeserved continuous injustice done to all the awardees of the FCT-Minister Award!