If you lose your character, you have lost everything. Cultivate the spirit of probity which is a primary ingredient required in business and daily engagement
Speech delivered by Chief Pius Obi Muoghalu, UN Peace Ambassador and retired Director National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to corps members in orientation camp
I feel highly delighted to welcome you aboard the ship of nation building that the National Youth Service Corps represents, which will sail for the next 12 months. Indeed, your membership of the service scheme, a scheme that harbours the most enlightened class of youths did not come by accident, but by a dint of hard work anchored on discipline, dedication, resilience in the last 20 years and above that you have navigated through primary, secondary and tertiary education while burning the proverbial midnight oil.
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Undeniably, it has been a tortuous journey, which has been gratifying paid off with your acquisition of the Golden Fleece and thus your membership of this elite corps – the National Youth Service Corps Scheme. On this premise, I extend hearty congratulations to you for the success that you recorded in the qualifying examinations that gave you the ticket to be in this cam today.
My dear children, it is my earnest expectation that the same zeal and fervor that saw you through your academic pursuits will be brought to bear in all your endeavours in the camp and thereafter.
Stepping on the threshold of moving into the world
My dear patriotic corps members, rehearsing the essence of the National Youth Service Corps, which is one of the fallouts of the 3Rs of reconstruction, rehabilitation and reconciliation enunciated by the then Federal Military Government as the country was emerging from the throes of the bloody Nigeria/Biafra civil war will be quite trite having been lectured on this a number of times in the camp. Having said that, it will be appropriate to go into the nitty-gritty of our gathering today.
My dear virile children, upon whose shoulders the future of the country rest, as the orientation camp progresses to the final week, I need not tell you that you will soon step into the mainstream of a world full of complexities, a world full of ups and downs, a world of oddities – the good the bad and the ugly – a world full of murky waters that requires tact, discipline, resilience, perseverance, patience among other sterling attributes to navigate.
Be that as it may, having come this far in life, I have no iota of doubt about capability and capacity to make it in life only if you believe you can with carefully laid out plans.
Shrinkage of white collar jobs
Currently, going by the increasing institutions of higher learning, the first shocker that will confront you is the dearth of white-collar jobs, which has been a consequence of inclement economic weather over the years. Sadly, many graduates have been trudging the streets of Nigeria in search of scarcely available white-collar jobs. In frustration, many have taken the ignoble path to armed robbery, prostitution, fraud, irrational trip to Europe through the desert and Mediterranean Sea. A few of them have met their untimely deaths as a result of such acts of indiscretion.
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Thankfully, in the past five years, NYSC has availed successive batches of corps member the opportunity of empowerment through Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) programme. If many of your predecessors had the opportunity that SAED offers you today, I am very certain that many of them in search of the elusive white collar jobs today would have been business owners and employers of labour. I personally saw signs of this during my training in South Korea, sponsored by NYSC Management.
Therefore, your future is in your hands for you to make or mar it. You must have a strategic plan for the future. If you do not have one, develop it today as failure to plan is planning to fail.
Some of my personal experiences related to the current realities in the field over the years
I must say that I was particularly lucky in my chosen field since joining the scheme in the 1970s. Besides a few years spent in Kano and later Lagos State, the turning point in my National Youth career came in 1982/83 when His Excellency, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, gave the directive that the scheme must immediately show her presence in the new FCT, Abuja. In their wisdom my superiors sent me as the first Liaison Officer of the Scheme. In that capacity I joined other liaison officers in weekly meetings, initially I was coming from Shiroro Hotel, Minna, until an accommodation was secured for residence and office. It was in this capacity that I secured most of the staff quarters NYSC officers thereafter used. This was followed by the acquisition of the land now housing NYSC Directorate Headquarters in Maitama.
On being converted to the first NYSC Chief Inspector (equivalent to State Coordinator today) I had to run the first orientation camp in Jabbi Primary School. I must say that I had the best set of corps members anybody working deserve or indeed desire. Hence again I must say that I received encomium and cooperation from RCDA Management. Camping was more fun as the corps members were daily having “pepper soup competitions.” In all these something struck me, outside the camp the whole place was boring, to revise this, I had to introduce evening classes in all the six zones of FCT where my corps members were preparing drop- outs for GCE ‘O’ Level. I had to prevent the staff from sharing this experience.
Within a few months, virtually all of them were able to buy their cars. When Col. Edet Akpan took over as the Director-General of NYSC, after his first visit to Abuja, he had to post me to the NYSC Headquarters as Chief Administrative Officer and thus the Head of Administration. In quick succession I was thereafter moved to old Anambra State as State Director in present Enugu. I established massive rice farm in Ezillo present day Ebonyi State. This was followed by a massive piggery project. In all these my aim was to establish means of alternative employment to corps members. When in 1991 I was posted to NYSC Headquarters as Director CDS (community Development Services), I introduced different forms of farming and projects in virtually all states of the Federation eg. Garment Factories in Minna and Awka, Shoe Factory in Benin, Freed Mill in Lagos, snail farming, rabbit farming and fish ponds in Iseyin Oyo State. In all these, the aim was to expose corps members nationwide to alternative and profitable employment that they can personally manage whenever the need arises.
Coterie of friends
An old saying goes thus: Show me your friend and I will tell you who you are!
What kind of friends do you keep? Just like your attitude to life will determine your altitude, the quality and broad spectrum of friends that you keep will determine how far you can go in life. Strive to cultivate the friendship of those from whom you will learn something positive, friends that will add value to your life instead of devaluing you.
You must adopt a positive mindset in life. No excuses! The good book says that everything is possible to him that believe. Set your goals, lay out the specific tactics to reaching your goals, pursue it with single mindedness and watch your goals flourish. By excuses, I mean advancing sometimes near plausible but irrational and absurd excuses why a particular course of action or concept cannot work. Prune and wean yourself of cynicism, skepticism pessimism as that can never be attributes of a winner. Avoid like plague friends with such mindset if you cannot win them over, as they are capable of dimming your light.
Your character defines your personality. For you to arise and shine in life you must be a man, a woman of character. To this end, in your dealings with people, you must at all times put on the apron of integrity. If you lose your character, you have lost everything in life. Cultivate the spirit of probity which is a primary ingredient required in business and daily engagement with people.
Need to embrace knowledge
Seek and embrace knowledge. You must broadly, cutting across the diverse fields of study, regardless of your discipline. If you can read at least one book in a week,it will do you a lot of good by broadening your horizon.
Above all, the importance of prayer cannot be over emphasise. God must occupy a prime position in your life as God-driven life will lead you to highway to success.
Finally, while you get set to commence the last phases of the National Youth Service Corps Programme, note please, that life is not a bed of roses. There is no rose without thorns. Therefore, nothing good comes easy in life. Go forth to your host communities and make a mark of difference. I wish you the best as you Arise and Shine.