The tough, exciting life of Lagos corps members

Lagos State attracts the largest number of corps members across the country. In all, Lagos receives well over 6,000 corps members yearly.

While corps members are likely to be paid more monthly by their employers in Lagos and other cities – in addition to the N33,000 monthly allowance from the Federal Government, they are also more likely to be faced with challenges of accommodation, which is scarce and costly.  Some corps members in the city centre may not also be well paid.

As a rule, the NYSC Lagos Directorate  demands that employers pay corps members a minimum of N25,000.

Some corps members said they are paid more, while others get less or nothing at all.  Most corps members posted to Lagos do not get accommodation from their employers and are forced to rent or stay with relatives.

A corps member serving in Agege (who did not want to be named), said she earned N30,000 without accommodation.  She described her experience  as a mixture of gains and pains– with it being unpleasant for the most part.

“My PPA is in Agege. My PPA does not provide accommodation but they pay corps members N30,000 and then when I compare what they pay us with what other companies are paying, it is not any better. But when you compare to the 10 or N15,000 people are being paid, you think it is better.

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“To me, it is not worth it.  They hardly retain; so I do not think it is worth it. Then, the employers, that are there. I think it depends on the department one finds himself. Some departments are nice, while some treat some corps members in a way I don’t like. They say things like – after, all you are a corps member.  (They see us as) cheap labour.”

Another corps member simply called Pamela said serving in Lagos was “very stressful”.  She identified not having an accommodation as a major cause of stress – plus the workload at the private primary school where she serves in Surulere Local Government Area of the state.

“I am being paid – though the pay is not that much and no accommodation is provided for me.  But I am lucky to be staying close by at my Aunt’s house.

“For me, this NYSC programme is not organised. They are meant to provide accommodation for corps members at their PPA. I don’t understand why they would not make provision for accommodation. What if I don’t have a home here?     It’s not funny serving in Lagos seriously. I would have chosen another state. Serving in Lagos is very very stressful.”

Pamela’s role in the school includes helping to promote the school on the social media.

“What I do in the school is snapping the students. I work together with the social media manager of the school. We kind of do publicity for the school on social Media.  I was told that they would like to see my impact for the school. That I can teach them anything I want maybe when they are free.

“The only thing that stresses me is that the school would not give you your time. No time for yourself. Maybe if you want to do any extra thing for yourself, you would not find the time. It is stressful. Had I known this is how it will be, I would have opted for rejection from the school. I am seeing this NYSC programme as a scam, I support it to be scrapped. Because I do not see the benefits it adds to me because if it is not for my personal development, what else is it meant for?”

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Ijeoma is having a good time in Lagos.  The plus to earning N30,000 as an assistant marketer, is that she lives with her family so does not have to pay for accommodation.

“My PPA is in marketing firm. I am an assistant marketer. I market drugs. The condition of serving in Lagos State is fine. It is very okay. My PPA is very cool. I go to work around 8:00am and come back around 5:00pm,” she said.

The only grouse Ijeoma has with serving in Lagos is that her local government, Oshodi- Isolo, does not provide a conducive place for corps members to meet for Community Development Service.

She said: “There is no provision for conducive environment for weekly CDS. That is very wrong. They should at least make provision for a hall but in my local government in Oshodi, there is no provision for such. We have to sit under the sun, no social distancing. We all cluster together. Sometimes, we are beaten by rain.”

Queen, a corps member serving in Victoria Island, earns up to N50,000 as an assistant facility manager.  However, she has to face the stress of battling traffic to get to work early enough.  Nevertheless, she finds the experience both interesting and stressful.

“Why I say okay is that I do not know what next day holds for me in terms of transportation and safety. It is not easy coping with Lagos stress. Because you have to wake up early to beat traffic on top of that you have to pray transportation cost does not increase and making sure not entering ‘one chance bus’.  I cope with by being patient and prayerful. It is not interesting at all but can be dramatic and funny because in the streets of Lagos a lot of drama occurs. Most common drama is two car drivers cursing at each other for clashing on the road or bus driver using his hand to control traffic while driving.

“My PPA is 60/40. I am enjoying what I do because I am learning. I was not given an accommodation. I am working as an assistant facility manager. I have not had such experience before so I am excited about the experience,” she said.

Olafemi redeployed from Cross Rivers State to Lagos because he said the place was not as good as touted.

He said: “Cross River is very cool at first.  My first day at Cross River was very nice – seeing your friends and guys. But when I entered the hostel I knew I had entered something more terrible than I can handle. The mattress and the bunk were not in good condition. Going away from the hostel, the treatment given to you by the soldiers was not satisfactory in camp. The weather there was not good. I had to relocate to Lagos.

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However, at Mushin LGA where he now serves, Olafemi said he does not get paid.

“My PPA is in a local government. When I first registered there, I was told there was no payment. And it is not pleasant at all. Going away from that, there’s no provision for accommodation,” he said.

Miracle Ayotunde is not also enjoying serving in Calabar, the Cross Rivers State capital.  He claimed the indigenes were not fair to corps members.

“They are not fair to corps members. Anytime they see corps, especially in the town or market, they see it as an avenue to defraud you. They see the ‘khaki’ as an opportunity to hike the price of materials in the market. Here, in Calabar, there is no benefit a corps member enjoys. The accommodation is very expensive. The only cheap thing is transportation.

His employer, the National Population Commission, NPC, offers no accommodation.  Ayotunde concluded:  “We serving in Calabar are seeing below what we expected of the city”.

However, Jennifer’s experience serving in Ikom LGA in the same state could not be more different from Ayotunde’s.  Though she is paid just N10,000 by the army, she enjoys so many other comforts – accommodation, free food, security and warmth from her hosts.

She said: “My service here in Ikom Local Government Area has been interesting. I was posted to an Army Barracks here in Ikom. The experience has been a wonderful one. Not just for my Place of Primary Assignment (PPA) alone, learning about the military and whole of lot of insights into how they operate and all. In terms of security, I am inside the barracks. This is like the most secured place one can stay in.

“We are provided with accommodation here at our PPA and it is a very comfortable place. They take care of us and give us foodstuff, water. We do not pay any extra bill here. Our NEPA bill is well taken care of by the barracks. In their kind-hearted way, they still give us stipend of N10,000 to add to what  the Federal Government gives us. I teach in a secondary school at the Barracks. Though it is different from being at home but it is still an experience I am loving. I love the experience of being a corps member in a place you know nothing about but they are accommodating,” she said.

SOURCE: THE NATION

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