Assertions the community development efforts of corps members make
Someone should please tell governors and local government chairmen that the ground for them to celebrate the sinking of boreholes has been removed from them. Not that sinking of boreholes shouldn't be a part of their agenda nor should they take their minds off providing it for their people. The point is that they no longer have to make a big deal out of sinking one or more boreholes. Neither should they see the sinking of borehole as a major achievement that befits their offices.
With what a corps member has done, if our politicians still go about brandishing such, then will they be exposing themselves to ridicule and insulting our sensibilities. We have seen them rent crowd, create much fanfare and even take spaces in print media and airtime in broadcast stations all in a bid to score political capital out of their sinking a borehole.
They do this to the extent that what is spent on these stunts sometimes eclipse the cost of the project itself. But, politicians in this cast must now learn to quietly commission their borehole projects without disturbing our peace. This is because that for which they create so much buzz is what a corps member surviving on a paltry N19,800 has executed!
The corps member; Mr. Toochukwu Stanislaus Onuchukwu, upon noticing the sufferings of pupils of Government Day Secondary School, Adankolo in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital sunk a borehole to assuage their sufferings. He had for the umpteen time observed the students abandon their classes in search of water that they have sundry needs for. This led him to bring about a borehole that not only serves the school but the entire people of Adankolo community as well.
We know the ones our showy elected public office holders execute to be mostly hand-pump boreholes, but that which this corps member did execute is a motorised kind with six taps- three of the outlets inside the school and another three outside. With this as the case, why shouldn't a governor or local government chairman with unfettered access to state funds be ashamed to celebrate sinking a borehole?
While we talk about those who construct manual boreholes and celebrate it as if they built power-plants, we aren't oblivious of those who exhaust two terms in office yet fail to sink even a borehole. You think we don't have such politicians? We very much do! You need not strain too hard before you hear one of them telling anyone who cared to listen that while he was in office, salaries were promptly paid. And he will strangely claim that to be a feat!
How be it, Toochukwu Stanislaus Onuchukwu has given us a reason to shoo away such politicians who would want us to be eternally grateful to them because they gave us a borehole. As regards those who for all their time in office couldn't sink even one, his effort has simply made them irrelevant! They should fade their faces in shame, if really they knew what shame is.
A top civil servant in Kogi State who confided in me at the commissioning of the over N1.5m borehole project said: "for a corps member to afford sinking a borehole, I believe a local government chairman should be able to sink hundreds of borehole while a state governor should be in a position to sink thousands." Pray: how many local government chairmen have we seen sink even a conservative 50? Then again; how many state governors have be able sink up to a hundred boreholes even?
In neighbouring Benue State, the Otobi/Otukpo water project that was commissioned by President Jonathan in March last year has since packed up, thus sparking the outbreak of cholera in those parts of the state. You needed to see how people suffer for water there. The situation is so bad that most sachet water products do stench. Yet, people go about drinking them, while those who can't afford it take to other water sources that aren't safe for drinking.
According to one of those affected: "the state government has again deceived us by the white elephant project. Just when we needed the water most, it stopped running and that is after we spent so much installing water channels in our homes and paying bills to the state water board." Some others believe the current administration will never revive the project since it has already scored a point by its elaborate commissioning.
In contrast, virtually all dignitaries at the commissioning of the borehole sunk by Mr. Onuchukwu noted in their speeches that the borehole will still be there many years after he must have concluded his national service. An Engineer who was also present made me to understand that the longevity of the water source is guaranteed. What a challenge! It then means that barring all technicalities, a water project executed by a corps member stands to outlive that carried out be a state government. River Benue, we hail thee!
It is already bad that the effort of a 25-year-old corps member will have to be juxtaposed with that of a governor. It gets even worst when the effort of the former appears set to trump that of the later in the test of time. The NYSC Zonal Inspector (ZI) of Lokoja Zone in Kogi State, Mr. Felix Ajayi said at the commissioning: "As I'm here now, the same thing is happening in other local government areas, happening in other states all over the federation." That suggests we have so many youths executing projects that promises to endure beyond the one done by some of our elected public office holders.
Yet, they still don't see youths as deserving of being trusted with leadership positions in this country. Hear what Mr. Ajayi told me: "What has been done by this corps member shows that some of our youths qualify to be trusted with power because leadership is all about having the interest of the people at heart." But that's just an NYSC ZI speaking, would the powers-that-be allow this to be?
The Commissioner of Education in Kogi State, Mrs Grace Elebiyo was spot on when while speaking through a representative said, "With what we have seen here today, those of us who are elderly can go back to sleep and believe that our younger generation can take Nigeria forward." Indeed, younger Nigerians look set to move the nation forward, the only snag is: would our elderly ones truly agree to quit the stage? There again is another poser to which I don't have the answer.
While we were celebrating Mr. Onuchukwu for his uncommon achievement, another corps member also serving in Lokoja Kogi State has devised and is implementing a more pragmatic way of curbing corruption and other social ills in our nation. This corps member, Mr. Joseph Ugbeju Victor published a novella titled: 'The Selfish King and other Stories' which the relevant authority has approved for junior secondary school pupils in the state.
The author told me he was led into writing the piece of literature because of his distaste for the vices prevalent in our society. This, he thoroughly addressed in the work believing that its content will impact greatly on J.S.S. 1 to 3 students for whom he intended it. This, no doubt, will go a long way in instilling mores and ethical behaviour in our upcoming generations. And there goes another youth whose intention and act have shown that younger Nigerians can actually be trusted with sensitive positions of authority.
Warts and all, all hope is not lost for Nigeria. At least, Mr. Onuchukwu and his like have become beacons of inspiration that would verily inspire other youths into having the interest of country and its people at heart. When youths have the interest of our nation at heart to the extent of going out of their way to ease the sufferings of others and make our country work, then, truly, can our elders go to 'sleep'. Pray, what are they waiting for?
Ugochukwu, a public affairs analyst can be followed on twitter @ugsylvester or reached through [email protected]