Youth scramble for Peace Corps jobs in Kwara

Date: 2016-12-12
The growing scarcity of jobs for employable but unemployed army of youth has forced many Nigerians to opt for available opportunity at their disposal. In this report, AHMED 'LATEEF visited Kwara State command Headquarters of Nigerian Peace Corps in Ilorin yesterday where youth flocked the office in their quest to get space.

Many Nigerians are agitated about the precarious situation the lingering economic downturn subjected them to. No thanks to unabated inflation and skyrocketed prices of food in the market.

As the situation gets worsened, Nigerians irrespective of class are paying the costly price. But what seems to be most disturbing in the multfarious problems confronting the country is the menacing unemployment. It has turned hopeless situation even for the brilliant as getting jobs in Nigeria be it in private or public is herculean.

Once in a calendar year, higher institutions of learning churn out army of graduates not just for the euphoria that accompany exiting the four wall of the citadel of learning with enviable grade but sojourning into the world of their own and translate what they have acquired in the classrooms into practical reality.

However, the supposed transition is bedeviled by a snag- Unemployment. From time to time, thousands of youth leave their respective higher institutions with no recipe for job. In order not to be idle, some graduates opt for what is available around them. They resign to fate that half-bread is better than none.

Even while the government is doing what it could to address the debacle, the situation is getting complicated and hope further diminishes. The ugly trend therefore forced many Nigerians to lament the inability of the government to tackle the problem.

It has become similar scenario across the country as no state is exempted from the unemployment syndrome. The number keeps soaring on daily basis. Thus, the youth are not leaving anything to chance in utilizing the opportunity that surfaces.

Because of the unemployment menace, those who would ordinarily consider some jobs as last option are not just opting for them but desperately scrambling and could go extra mile to get them.

While the array of unemployed youth are bemoaning the situation they found themselves, the National Assembly completed its legislative work on the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill.

The bill, which was passed fortnight ago, had suffered casualty in the sixth and seventh legislature until its concurrent passage by the present eight session of the National Assembly.

Prior to the passage of the bill, some youth have volunteered themselves for the job without financial gains in return. The bill, which awaits assent of President Mohammadu Buhari, seeks to empower, develop and provide gainful employment for youth.

Information made available also indicates that the legal framework will facilitate the training of youth to advance the course of peace building and conflict transformation through peace education, mediation and conflict resolution among warring groups or communities where there are crisis in Nigeria.

Sponsored by Senate Leader, Mohammed Ali Ndume (APC-Borno), the bill was first read at plenary on March 10, 2016 and scaled second reading.

With the passage of the bill, the head of the corps will be referred to as Commandant General with six Deputy Commandants from the six geopolitical zones of the country.

The headquarters of the corps would be domiciled in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

The functions of the corps include promoting social and economic development and empowering and preoccupying the Nigerian youth through job creation and provision of alternative employment.

Following the passage of the bill, thousands of youth have besieged offices used by the Corps in some states to be enlisted preparatory to when the agency fully becomes operational.

The case was not different in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital as youth (graduates and non-graduates alike) flocked the state command Headquarters of the Corps on Erin-Ile Street via Gaa-Akanbi to obtain application form for consideration as members of the Corps.

When The Herald visited the office yesterday, hundreds of youth were seen around adjourning buildings of the office scrambling to check their names.

It was gathered that the applicants parted with N1500 non-refundable application form fee while N40,000 is for training, kits and other facilities that would be made available to them.

The successful applicants will thereafter go for four weeks training while they will be issued with certificate of training in the end.

When our correspondent approached the State Commandant of the Corps, Mr Lukman Adelowo Yekini, yesterday on the number of applicant so far, he responded thus, "We cannot give you the precise number now based on the fact people are still coming in. But immediately we reach the number we are expecting, we are going to stop".

Speaking on the process of application, the commandant said, "Before you can apply, there is a requirement that must be met. An applicant must have a minimum of 'O' Level, OND, HND, BSc and all above. We have different ranks or levels to place whoever that have required certificate. And the prospective applicant must be between the age of 18 and 35. He must be mentally and physically sound. He would obtain an application form at the rate of N1500. When you fill the form, you submit with your credential.

"We will thereafter look into it and when we feel that you scale through and meet the qualification required, then we will invite you for screening. There is a physical screening to test your mental and physical fitness. After that, we will go for four weeks initial training and orientation just to give the applicant the training and knowledge required to be a full officer of Peace Corps of Nigeria.

"For the camp, we normally use NYSC Orientation Camp but we used to find alternative to do our camping whenever the NYSC management is using the camp. We used four weeks in the camp. And during this period, the applicants will go through a lot of trainings. They receive lectures from both internal and external lecturers including Nigerian Police Force, Road Safety, Ministries of Education, Youth and Justice. Also lecturers from religious side, Islam and Christianity. And when these people come, we give them honorarium.

"And for four weeks in the camp, we take care of medical treatment of the trainees in the camp. Even before they enter the camp, we make some materials available for them. These include T-Shirt, Crested T-Shirt, Fez Cap and then the compiled lectures they supposed to receive while on camp. This is called training manual, which will be given to them.

"Apart from that, we are going to give them full uniform as officers. This include all the kits they need. At the end of the camp, they are going to be presented with certificate of training and service identity card. All these things are being summed up at the very high subsidized rate of N40,000.

"Because when you look at what we are going to supply to them and compare to what NYSC is doing, their own is just three weeks. Our own is four weeks. Let me also say that our training is more strict and disciplined, higher in level than NYSC. But not as rigorous as Nigerian Army training".

Speaking on why the applicants were paying N40,000 fee, Yekini said the money was meant to make some provisions for them.

He noted that it was from the money paid that the Corps will attend to some needs but the trainees will have to provide feeding for themselves.

"The money is meant for the kitting of the officers. I just said that we are going to camp and give them four weeks orientation and training in camp. We normally used NYSC Orientation but anytime they are using the camp, we go somewhere else. That camp alone, we pay for it. And at the same time, we are going to give them a pair of service uniform, beret, other kits and Nigeria Peace Corps Service Medal.

"And apart from that, medical care throughout the duration in the camp is going to be taken care of. We always have our clinic manned by qualified medical doctor and we pay for others. Training manual, PCN brochure and camp Identity card will be given to the trainees immediately they are entering the camp. Certificate of training and service Identity card are also to be given to them. Accommodation for four weeks. That is exactly what the N40,000 is meant for", he said.

The State Peace Corps Commandant told The Herald that the organization as presently constituted was optimistic that the bill will get presidential assent soon, saying the establishment of the corps was anchored on the President's promise to create job opportunity for the teeming unemployed youth.

He commended the National Assembly for its courage in passing the bill, which he pointed out, was long over due.

"Of course we are hopeful (the Mr President will sign the bill). Let me use this medium to appreciate our legislators for having the interest of the masses at heart for passing the bill at last. We started the process of passage of this bill from the sixth Assembly. Our appreciation goes to the eight Assembly for prioritizing the interest of the youth and creating meaningful job for the youth.

"For Mr President, we are all aware and very sure. Mr President is a man of his word. When he says something, he does it and stands by it. During the last election, it was one of the promises in the manifestos to create job, open more opportunity for employable but unemployed youth to be meaningfully engaged. With that, Mr President will be glad to sign the bill since it has been passed by both chambers of the National Assembly", the Peace Corps Commandant said.

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