“Lies run sprint, but the truth runs Marathons.” -Michael Jackson
No doubt, we are in moments of anxiety and national outrage, no thanks to the unprecedented anarchy, chaos and doom caused by insecurity. In these moments of uncertainty even institutions that symbolise sublime goals of making Nigeria great are challenged by cocktails of externally generated speculative tails of fear, anxiety and apprehension.
The National Youth Service Corps Scheme is not an exception. The institution is battling cocktails of lies, half truths and speculations and these are sowing seeds of doubts and anxiety in the minds and hearts of Nigerians. The good news is that the NYSC is headed by a tested and trusted leadership headed by Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim who holds a doctorate degree in education. Before putting pen to paper, I read few books to understudy the different ramifications of anxiety and these were my findings and summaries in the following citations.
“There’s no getting over the fact that high anxiety can be brutal, which is why our natural reaction is to fight against it. This is how we become quickly disillusioned; because it’s a battle we’ll never win. More importantly, it’s a pointless battle we shouldn’t be fighting in the first place. Anxiety is not your enemy. it’s your life companion. It’s essential to your survival, and if you didn’t have it, you wouldn’t be here today. By learning to live comfortably with it, and accepting it as part of your life, you will win – every time.
I’m continually shocked by the number of individuals who claim to be experts offering a ‘cure’ and ‘elimination’ for anxiety. It’s difficult to understand how anybody with a true understanding of anxiety could make such false promises.
It’s no coincidence that I spent so many years looking for answers, and why people suffering from high anxiety are constantly seeking a ‘cure’. It’s because it doesn’t exist!
Anxiety doesn’t have a switch that you can permanently turn off. It’s well and truly implanted in us and forms part of who we are, just like any other emotion. When we feel sad or angry, our natural reaction isn’t to completely eliminate the emotions of sadness and anger – we accept them as part of our lives. We accept that it’s healthy to get angry and upset. If we agree that it’s healthy to get angry and sad, why are we led to believe that we should ‘eliminate’ anxiety, when it’s just as healthy to be anxious? All of these emotions might come with unwanted and uncomfortable feelings, but that’s part of the human experience. We would live in a very strange world if we felt happy every time we got dumped or fired, for example.
Anxiety is what gets you out of bed in the morning. It keeps you safe when you cross the road. It provides the motivation to find a loving partner and friends. It keeps your children fed and healthy. It makes your life possible. Save yourself a lot of grief and stop fighting it. Put Your arm around it, and thank it for being a loyal companion.
I now accept that anxiety will always be present in my life, and by changing its meaning, I completely change the way I deal with it. I understand that overcoming high anxiety is a life’s journey, not a quick fix, and it’s not something I can turn off, cure or eliminate.
Accepting anxiety as part of your life doesn’t mean being ruled by it. The
concept of rebalance means that once you’ve achieved normal anxiety levels you can live your life without having to make decisions based around it. You will regain control, and be free to live a happy, active and fulfilling life, doing what you want, when you want”. (ANXIETY REBALANCE ALL THE ANSWERS YOU NEED TO OVERCOME ANXIETY & DEPRESSION BY CARL VERNON).”
Another author says as follows: “LEADERS SHOW THEIR METTLE IN many ways-Setting strategy and motivating people, just to mention two-but above all else leaders are made or broken by the quality of their decisions. That’s a given, right? If you answered yes, then you would probably be surprised by how many executives approach decision making in a way that neither puts enough options on the table nor permits sufficient evaluation to ensure that they can make the best choice. Indeed, our research over the past several years strongly suggests that, simply put, most leaders get decision making all wrong.”
The author stated also that: “The reason: Most businesspeople treat decision making as an event-a discrete choice that takes place at a single point in time, whether they’re sitting at a desk, moderating a meeting, or staring at a spreadsheet. This classic view of decision making has a pronouncement popping out of a leader’s head, based on experience, gut, research, or all three. Say the matter at hand is whether to pull a product with weak sales off the market. An “event” leader would mull in solitude, ask for advice, read reports, mull some more, then Say yea or nay and send the organization off to make it happen. But to look at decision making that way is to overlook larger social and organizational contexts, which ultimately determine the success or any decision.
The fact is, decision making is not an event. It’s a process, one that unfolds over weeks, months, or even years; one that’s fraught with power plays and politics and is replete with personal nuances and institutional history; one that’s rife with discussion and debate; and one that requires support at all levels of the organization when it comes time for execution. Our research shows that the difference between leaders who make good decisions and those who make bad ones is striking. The former recognize that all decisions are processes, and they explicitly design and manage them as such. The latter persevere in the fantasy that decisions are events they alone control.
In … decision-making process-an approach we call inquiry-and outline a set of criteria for assessing the quality of the decision-making process.” (On Making Smart Decisions By Daniel Kahneman, Dan Lovallo, and Olivier Sibony)”.
Another illustrious author wrote thus: “We all have a backstory It explains why we behave as we do. OK, it doesn’t always justify it, but at least it’s a reason for our behaviour. Of course, no one else ever knows all the details and complexities of your backstory like you do, but lots of people get the gist.
There’ll be a reason why certain things make you feel more anxious, stressed, excited, cynical, depressed, relaxed, angry confident than other people do. It might be genetic, it might be because of bad past experiences, or according to Freud it might all be down to your parents. Friends might say that you shouldn’t stress so much about this, or be so suspicious about that, or be too laid back, or shout so much. But they don’t understand – if they’d been to the same school as you, or lived through the poverty you have, or had siblings like yours, or Worked for your last boss, they’d realise why you behave that way.
Listen, this is true of everyone. There’s no one on the planet who isn’t shaped by their personal experiences. So, when your colleague snaps at you, or your friend lets you down, or your partner forgets your birthday, just remember there’s always a reason. It might be a rubbish reason, but there’s a reason.
And I’m telling you this because if you can understand the reason, it makes it easier to deal with other people’s negative behaviour.
Even if you can’t change the way they act, you’ll find it slightly easier to take if you get the reasons behind it. And often simply because you are prepared to understand, they can let go of being defensive and decide to change their behaviour. (The Rule of People by Richard Templar).”
We took a lot of time to cite authoritative submission on anxiety because of the salient fact that due to the spread of fake news and rumors about one of the most successful public institutions-: the National Youth Service Corps Scheme(NYSC), a lot of people may have developed anxiety and some are already believing these lies deliberately told to muddy the facts.
The truth is that: “Rumors. Gossip. Fake news. We’ve all heard these terms. While most consider them harmless, they can affect your health. Learning to tell the difference between fact and fiction can be a real boost — both mentally and physically. What happens when rumors aren’t harmless? What if they damage someone’s reputation, livelihood, or personal life? If you’re on the receiving end of untrue gossip, what do you do?”
On Rumors vs. Gossip vs. ‘Fake News’, the writer says: “Rumors are defined as widely spread talk with no reliable source to back it up. They aren’t always bad. Some rumors can even seem positive, like promotions, engagements, or awards. But until proven otherwise, they are just that — rumors. Gossip is when you take rumors — those unconfirmed pieces of information — and pass them along, spreading what may be “fake news.” What may be surprising is how difficult it can be to tell rumor and gossip from truth. Even people who are Internet-savvy can have trouble telling what’s real and what’s not. It can also be tough to tell the difference between news and advertisement. As a result, people sometimes give more weight to what they see in their social media feed than what they get from more credible news sources.”
The author then posed the question to know What’s the Harm in rumoursand responded thus: “When it comes to “fake news,” the effects can be both immediate and long-lasting. In most cases, a “fake news” story can rile up your emotions and change your mood. Depending on the strength of your feelings, the story, and the reaction it gave you, can stick in your head, even after you find out it’s false. You may even remember those feelings if you see another story about the same subject. On their own, rumors and gossip seem harmless; almost a fun pastime. But there’s a point where they can become harmful to your health. There’s a great deal of information out there about bullying among teenagers and younger children. What’s sometimes overlooked is that adults can be bullied, too. It can come in the form of untrue rumors or gossip about them or a loved one. It can also come through reactions to words or an image that’s been posted. Physical appearance, politics, and financial issues can all become the subject of online bullying, too.”
The author asked to know What you Can Do? And then responds thus: “Rumors, gossip, and fake news can make you feel helpless, angry, and very anxious. There are steps you can take to regain your power and your health. To avoid fake news, you can:
Watch out for sites that end in “.com.co.” Often, these are bootleg versions of traditional news services.
Try to find other articles on the same topic from other sites, especially if the first article you read makes you upset. It’s possible that the anger-inducing story was created in a way to rile you up.
Check another source if an article you read uses all caps, either in headlines or in the article itself.
Click the “About Us” tab for more information about the source.
Poke around a little to see if other, more-known sites are reporting the story. If it’s legitimate, at least one other site would cover it.
Be careful about blogs, even if they’re tied to well-known sites. In many cases, blogs aren’t held to the same editorial standard as regular news pieces.”
“When you come across a piece of gossip, a juicy rumor, or an unflattering photo that clearly is aimed at hurting the subject, don’t share it, don’t comment, and don’t engage. You might be able to help someone who doesn’t know how to combat the problem by simply reporting it for them. If you’re the subject of a rumor, gossip, or bullying, it’s important to remember that not every bit of teasing is bullying. But when it escalates to that point, don’t respond. Cut them off — block the calls and texts, and block them on social media. Get in touch with your Internet service provider if the abuse is coming through a website or your smartphone. Chances are the bully is violating their terms of service. If so, the offensive posts will disappear. You can also contact the police. There are laws against harassment, stalking, and threatening behavior. Don’t engage with them. Don’t forward the messages to friends. Most of all, don’t believe whatever is being said about you”( www.webmd.com).
Here are some of the rumors so far spread about the NYSC. Luckily, the proactive managers of the NYSC have also ably provided the responses to these rumours and as someone writing from the background of an Independent observer, I can confirm that what the management of NYSC have adduced as their responses are factually accurate.
Around July 31st 2021, the National Youth Service Corps, alleged that the reported story that 544 corps members were killed in the Northeast and Northwest in 2021 was nothing but junk journalism and blackmail by a section of the media.
In the report, the NYSC was also accused of risking the lives of 9,100 corps members deployed to the seven states in the North-West region; where at least, 189 persons have been killed and 376 persons were abducted in Zamfara and Kaduna states alone.
Reacting to two reports by a national daily ( not Vanguard), the Scheme said the medium was losing grip on “balanced reportage, which is the hallmark of good journalism.”
A statement signed by the NYSC Director, Press and Public Relations, Adenike Adeyemi (Mrs), alleged that the unsubstantiated reports were published to create apprehension in the minds of parents, guardians and other stakeholders.
The statement reads in part, “No corps member deployed to the North-East and North-West geopolitical zones of the country was killed, neither was any abducted by bandits in July 2021, as reported.
“Management would have ignored these stories, but had to issue this rebuttal for the sake of undiscerning minds who may swallow the fake news, hook, line and sinker. Nonetheless, discerning minds know that they are a figment of the writer’s imagination, as nothing of such happened.
“However, it is imperative to restate that balanced reportage is the hallmark of good journalism. The integrity of information pushed into the public domain should never be in doubt.
“Management hereby passionately appeals to both the mainstream and new media, as opinion moulders and critical stakeholders in the polity to always place national interest above every other consideration in their reportage, as anything contrary has the propensity to create apprehension in the minds of parents, guardians and other stakeholders.
“The Scheme is always open to enquiries, in order to guard against feeding the public with inaccurate, or completely false information.
“NYSC shall continue to prioritise the security and welfare of Corps Members which is the cardinal policy thrust of the Scheme.
“The Scheme hereby reassures the general public that it will continue to work in concert with security agencies in order to ensure the safety of Corps Members across the nation.”
Around August 5th 2021, the National Youth Service Corps described as untrue claims of COVID-19 positive corps members.
The organisation said there were no COVID-19 positive corps members in any of the 37 NYSC orientation camps nationwide.
The NYSC Director, Press and Public Relations, Adenike Adeyemi, made the clarification in a statement in Abuja.
She said, “Please note that before any prospective corps member is admitted into the 37 camps, they must undergo COVID-19 test. Only those that test negative are admitted; the same rule applies to camp officials.
“Those that test positive are handed over to the NCDC for treatment and management. It is pertinent to state that there is a gulf of difference between a corps member and a prospective corps member. “One becomes a corps member after admittance to the camp, registration and administration of the oath of national allegiance. “Anyone mobilised for service that has not gone through the aforesaid process is not a corps member.
“In view of the foregoing explanation, there is no red alert in NYSC orientation camps, as all corps members, as well as camp officials admitted in the camps are COVID-19 negative.”
In not too distant past, there was also a certain Sinister effort to spread some toxic rumours that the DG of NYSC was against Christian worships within the NYSC Camps. But ironically, the Director General though a sound and good Moslem but incidentally he is married to a Roman Catholic Christian adherent and so can not possibly be categorized as a hater of Christians.
I do think that this regime of rumours targeted at the NYSC which are meant to sow a sort of anxiety in the minds and hearts of Nigerians are really not strange. This is because of the recent move by a member of the Federal House of Representative to get the National Assembly to abolish the NYSC due to the unprecedented rate of insecurity in Nigeria.
The bill on the discontinuation of the National Youth Service Corps has reached the second reading in the House of Representatives.
Sponsored by the lawmaker representing Andoni-Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency of Rivers State Awaji-Inombek Abiante, in the explanatory memorandum of the proposal, the bill listed various reasons why the NYSC should be scrapped.
It said the NYSC has led to the “incessant killing of innocent corps members in some parts of the country due to banditry, religious extremism and ethnic violence; incessant kidnapping of innocent corps members across the country.”
“Public and private agencies/departments are no longer recruiting able and qualified Nigerian youths, thus relying heavily on the availability of corps members who are not being well remunerated and get discarded with impunity at the end of their service year without any hope of being gainfully employed.
“Due to insecurity across the country, the National Youth Service Corps management now gives considerations to posting corps members to their geopolitical zone, thus defeating one of the objectives of setting up the service corps, i.e. developing common ties among the Nigerian youths and promote national unity and integration.”
The bill is seeking the alteration of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Alteration Bill, 2020. The youth service, which started on May 22, 1973, was established during the military regime of General Yakubu Gowon under Decree No. 24 of 1973.
The whole truth is that the NYSC was established to reconcile and reintegrate Nigerians after the Nigerian civil war; traditions and customs of their host communities; providing the forum for corps members to experiment with ideas and translate them into concrete achievements thereby relying less on foreign technology and encouraging the use of local raw materials in the execution of projects; harnessing the enormous energy, talents and skills of corps members into an effective machinery or change in our rural communities; providing on-the job-training, skill sets and experience for corps members; providing complementary service in our National development activities, by ensuring that our underprivileged population learn basic techniques for self-help through the appropriate technology concept being promoted by NYSC; to instill in corps members the tradition of dignity of labour and productivity; to complement the activities of government at all levels in the stride towards national development.
So, do not believe the lies about NYSC!
BY EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO
EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and was a federal commissioner at the National Human Rights commission of Nigeria.