By Toba Suleiman
Given the many challenges the scheme has faced in the past, especially in the area of security of members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), many people have understandably called for the scrapping of the NYSC programme. But on occasion, exciting stories emanating from the scheme have helped to sustain the flame on its many benefits.
Wednesday, one of such stories hit the waves, this time from Ekiti State. Surmised as an extraordinary feat, a serving corps member, Dr. Ibrahim Oluwatosin, a veterinary medicine graduate of University of Ibadan, hit the bull’s eye, when he embarked on the building of a block of six toilets, and donated same to the Ekiti State Government.
Oluwatosin, a 2011 Batch 'A' serving corps member in Ekiti State, may have shocked many of his colleagues and even government officials for daring to initiate a programme that would cost as much as over N2 million. In a scheme where participants often bicker and heckle over “älawi” (allowance), embarking on a N2.7 million project for the community can only be a selfless demonstration of patriotism.
Explaining the rationale behind the project, the corps member pointed out that he embarked on the project to assist the state government, which he noted, has been proactive in the provision of social amenities to the people.
“The zeal to assist the government of the day in providing social amenities was strong. I was concerned about what I could do to assist the masses,” he said.
The toilet, which has six rooms, three for males and three for females, has an outlay of interlocking stones around the surroundings, while the floors are also covered with tiles, which further enhances it.
But how did a corps member whose N18, 000 monthly “alawi” raise the sum of N2 million to undertake the project? Twenty-nine-year-old Oluwatosin explains: “I solicited money from prominent members of the society, from individuals, government agencies and ministries, and I had to fall back on my little savings when the money raised was still not enough…”
He narrated to THISDAY that he approached several people, including plank traders, who for instance, donated some of the wood with which the building was roofed.
More wood was donated by the Forestry Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, where he served in his primary assignment. The Information Commissioner, Hon. Funminiyi Afuye in the state donated the inter-locking stones that were used to beautify the surroundings. Concrete blocks and some other materials were also donated by some kind members of the public while the Physical, Urban and Regional Planning Department provided the parcel of land on which the toilet was built.
Asked if he faced some challenges while undertaking the six-month project (commenced work on August 22, 2011), Oluwatosin said he was riled by the insults and denigrating comments of some persons, who took him for a fraud and a beggar. “They talked to me anyhow, because they thought I was a beggar. I had to tell some people that I was a doctor at some point,” he said.
He said the entire cost of the project was N2, 718, 000. 80.
“I had to make up what I got from individuals with my little savings to complete the project,” he said, in a calm and humble tone.
Besides, the toilet, which also has one over head tank, with a bore hole, was connected to the electricity source of the state’s secretariat to make it function round the clock.
The toilet project will be Oluwatosin’s sixth project during the service year. He has trained 82 men and women on cat-fish farming, donated five flat screen computers to five secondary schools, welfare materials to a rehabilitation centre in the state, as well as facilitating the monthly sanitation in all veterinary hospitals and the central abattoir in the state.
Oluwatosin, an indigene of Aiyetoro Quarters of Ilesa, Osun State, who will be passing out today, profusely thanked spirited members of the society and government agencies who assisted him in achieving the feat.
Asked why he chose to undertake such a gesture during his service year, Oluwatosin explained that even in his Ilesa home town, “I always assist the people of my community, by treating their animals just for a token.”
While lauding those who assisted him to raise the funds, Oluwatosin disclosed that it took him throughout his one year service to raise the amount, which he said he garnered from individuals, corporate bodies, as well as from government agencies in the state, in addition to his own little stipend. He said he had been looking forward to the opportunity to better the lot of the people, which he said he had eventually achieved in the construction of the toilet.
The ultra modern toilet built within the vicinity of the state secretariat, was inaugurated by the deputy governor, Mrs. Funmi Olayinka. Olayinka, who was represented by her deputy chief of staff, Mrs Sade Obioha, lauded the corps member for the gesture which, according to her, had shown him as a focused and exceptional individual. She noted that the gesture would promote a hygienic environment and serve as a great relief for members of the public.
Also speaking, the Commissioner for Information, Afuye, commended the initiative, saying the gesture would bridge a significant gap in the provision of sanitary facilities. The commissioner called on other corps members to take a cue from the initiative of Oluwatosin, whom he said, worked tirelessly to achieve the feat.