Gov. Willie Obiano is committed to the welfare of Corps members in Anambra, writes Chris Egbuna

Despite infrastructural development challenges competing for available resources, Gov. Willie Obiano of Anambra State has shown unflinching commitment to the vision of the National Youth Service Corps scheme (NYSC). Since he took over the leadership of the state in 2014, Obiano has extended generous gestures to Corps members posted to Anambra, as well as support to the management of the 26-year-old scheme in many remarkable ways.

Every year, Anambra State government moves a step further in improving the welfare of Corps members while accelerated work goes on at the permanent orientation camp at Umuawulu, Awka South Local Government Area. Bearing in mind the limited facilities in the present orientation camp in Umunya, Oyi Local Government Area, Gov. Obiano has remained committed to the welfare of the Corps members, a gesture that has earned Anambra special recognition by the NYSC authorities.

Recently, Gov. Obiano donated N10 million to supplement the feeding of Batch ‘B’ group comprising 2,200 Corps members for a three-week orientation camp at the Umunya temporary orientation camp.

Represented by the State’s Head of Service, Harry Udu, the governor reiterated his government’s continued support towards enhancing the welfare of the Corps members in Anambra. He said the move was to enable them to be integrated with their host communities and to participate in various rural development programmes.

Gov. Obiano said, “I hereby direct the NYSC Co-ordinator to ensure the provision of the most sumptuous meal as I shall be supplementing the feeding in the Anambra camp with the sum of N10m. We will continue to provide the enabling environment for the youths to maximize their potential”. He urged the Corps members to take advantage of the numerous youth-friendly policies and conducive environment to build prosperity for themselves and the nation.

The NYSC hierarchy acknowledges the outstanding role of Anambra in sustaining the vision of the scheme towards nation-building. While visiting the state in August 2018, the National Governing Board of the NYSC, led by its chairman, Ambassador Fatima Bala Abubakar, hailed Obiano for taking Anambra into the league of states that provide outstanding welfare for the corps members. She also praised the governor for maintaining the position of the state with the highest monthly payment of corps members’ allowances – a development she said confirmed Obiano’s emotional attachment to the NYSC scheme. Anambra is also recognised as the most NYSC-friendly state.

Obiano had noted last year that the Corps members were deployed to Anambra when the state was transiting from massive infrastructural to human capital development. He therefore uses available opportunities to urge them to contribute their quota not only in the realisation of the NYSC scheme’s objectives, but in complementing and accelerating the development of the state and the nation.

In demonstration of his passionate commitment to youth empowerment through entrepreneurship, Gov. Obiano has pledged synergy with NYSC by dedicating certain centres for the training of Corps. Anambra State has 21 skills and entrepreneurship centres, 10 of which are fully operational.

In this circumstance, Obiano had approved the donation of a parcel of land to the NYSC for agriculture and other entrepreneurial training for Corps members serving in the state. To ensure maximum benefit from the venture, professionals would be engaged at the centre to train corps members in various aspects of agriculture, including crop and animal husbandry.

A large percentage of the Corps members are posted to rural and hard-to-reach areas to complement state government’s efforts in sustaining education and health facilities established for rural dwellers by bridging the manpower gap. The state government has approved a special allowance for Corps members engaged in such areas – as an incentive.

The state government is aware of concerns over the conclusion of the NYSC permanent orientation camp at Umuawulu – Awka. Gov. Obiano has assured that the camp will be commissioned with ultra-modern facilities by August 2019, and had ordered speedy work at the site. Interestingly, the NYSC state co-ordinator, Kehinde Aremu understands the mind of the state governor and had lamented the budgetary release challenge that hampered the completion of the permanent camp at Umuawulu – Awka.

“We were almost 100 per cent sure of the readiness of the camp, but budgetary releases stalled the total completion. That’s why we were back in the loving arms of the Umunya community. But looking at the commitment and body language of the governor, I’m not in doubt that the camp will be ready by August,” Aremu said after acknowledging the N10 million gesture by Gov. Obiano who had also directed that ‘a beautiful hall’ be provided for the Corps members at the State Secretariat at Amawbia.

As a distinguished Corps member in his service year in Benue State where he was rewarded with both an award and automatic employment for carrying out a major project in a community, Gov. Obiano has ensured that Corps members who show outstanding performance are rewarded. In 2017, he announced automatic employment for 17 Corps members in recognition of their outstanding performance during their service year. Similarly, seven Corps members were rewarded in 2018 for distinguishing themselves during their service year. The awardees received a total of N850, 000 cash and three large screen HP laptops.

The Corps members serving in Anambra will benefit from the numerous unique community development programmes of the state. These include the multi-billion naira Community-Choose-Your-Project Initiative. By this, each of the 179 communities in the state would have N20 million for projects unanimously decided by them to be sited in their respective domain. The community chooses the contractor who must come from the area while government provides the resources.

According to reports, the Community-Choose-Your-Project Initiative has earned eulogies from researchers and development experts as “a perfect example of the bottom-top approach to development which was recommended in the democratic setting, as opposed to the traditional top-down style which sees top government officials decide projects for communities without finding out the felt-needs of the communities”. The communities have chosen various projects for rapid development of their areas such as civic and health centres, markets, water boreholes, rural electrification, cottage industries and others.

Gov. Obiano’s wise counsel to the Corps members has remained the same: “I charge you to take advantage of the great opportunities the state has to offer so that when the story of the uncommon transformation of Anambra is told in few years to come, you will be proud to claim a part of the glory because I have a passionate commitment to the NYSC scheme.”

Egbuna, a Developmental Analyst, wrote from Nnewi